Is A/C capacitor supposed to look like this?

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Alexander wrote:

Let's say a Contractors Association did exactly that.
In about five minutes they would be convicted of violating the Wright-Patman Act: Conspiracy to Restrain Trade.
Off to the Federal Grey-Bar Hotel they would go. Hi-ho, Hi-ho, Hi-ho.
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Looks like I'm jumping in at the end of a thread. Anyway, I have a 1991 Coleman Park model A/C unit. Its about 3' X 3' X 18" high. It is mainly an AC unit but does have heat strips for the "heat" function.
It started making a moaning sound (only at night in the COLD (near freezing) weather) 2 yrs ago. There was also the slight odor of hot/ melting plastic wire insulation.
A local guy that says he's an AC tech ( he s done several jobs in the neighborhood) came by and said I needed a new motor..that would run about $ 175-200 plus labor so maybe $ 250 and UP.
I decided to check the internet and to make a long story short, I found a REAL AC expert on:
ALL EXPERTS http://en.allexperts.com/q/Heating-Air-Conditioning-696 /
NOTE: This is NOT the FEE BASED 'Ask an Expert' type website(s)
There were several guys listed to select from, so I picked one, posted my question and after 2-3 posts back and forth, in a couple of days, I had the FIX.
It was a part called the (start) capacitor. It, like the whole unit was 18 years old. I pulled the old one (following the PROs instructions) found a XREF to the part # ONLINE, the found a local supplier by a Google search. I went to pick up the part but they had a minimum order of $ 5.00 Yes, the part was under $ 5.00 so I had to buy TWO at $ 2.67 each. Went home, put it in, gave the motor bearings some lube while I was in there and closed it up.
Its been working fine now for 2 years.
New Motor $ 250 ? New Capacitor $ 2.67
ALL EXPERTS Priceless ! (No Charge, No FEE)
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SPAM
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On Mon, 3 May 2010 23:06:26 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"

    Guy at the counter just don't want to deal with your sorry lame mormon ass.
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brassplyer wrote:

That fan run capacitor looks like the crimp on the top is damaged and leaking. Those things cost less than $10 around here. The start capacitor terminals and top looks burned from what I can see in the picture. That capacitor is less than $20 in this area. If you found critters in the control box, the circuit board could have been damaged and that's the most expensive item $60-$100. If you can't get an HVAC supply house to sell to you, try an electric motor sales and rewind company. Either supply houses will have a capacitor tester and most will be glad to test the capacitor for you. Dress like a working man and you may get away with it. If you show up wearing an Izod knit shirt, white shorts and deck shoes, the city sales crew might get suspicious. *snicker*
TDD
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Looks like a heat pump to me? Isn't that a defrost board?
Most hvac supply places won't give you much grief if you just show up with a cap and ask for a new one. Don't start asking them troubleshooting questions though. See if you have a johnstons, they carry a lot of stuff.
I think that's the fan cap though so while it might be leaking a bit it's not your main problem. Use a vom to check and make sure you have 240 vac on the downside of that contactor. You could try replacing the compressor cap since it won't cost you much. You need to observe it to see if it even tries to start. You can do that either by having a helper turn it on while you are there or push the contactor in yourself with an insulated screwdriver. It's ok to run the unit for short periods without the fan on top. You can tell when a compressor is trying to start as it will make noise for a few seconds and then quit. Compressors have thermal overload switches inside them so they cutoff after a bit if they can't start. It's a lot easier to tell what it's doing or not doing with the fan removed. With out gauges and other test equipment it can be difficult to fix hvac systems. You can try simply replacing the cap on the compressor but after that then you need to check the charge and possibly the current draw if it's trying to start. A hard start kit might help too.
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jamesgangnc wrote:

Johnstones in Sioux Falls, SD, Appleton, Wisconsin, Fargo ND, and Sioux City Iowa all have large commercial signs on the front entrance that says Licensed and wholesale only. I assume those signs are nationwide and are enforced. There is also a minimum purchase price and only to account holders. Maybe your sister might be laying it out to a counterman that can get it for you?

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Here's what I've found so far. The spade connector contacts on both the capacitors were highly corroded. I used a Dremel to grind off rust to get a clean contact surface.
The electromagnetic contact switch works, definitely engages. I hooked everything back up, put the top of the unit back on secured it with a few of the screws.
The top fan works so apparently that capacitor isn't bad enough to prevent that. As I was sitting by the unit after a few minutes I heard a humming noise that sounded like the compressor had momentarily kicked in but then stopped.
Further, on that circuit board there's a red LED that flashes while the unit is running.
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Maybe if you were to take a crowbar to your wallet and called a *competent*, licensed, insured, professionally trained tech??
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I may end up eventually doing that, but apparently it bothers you that I'd like to learn something about the workings of the unit and be somewhat informed and would also like to see if I get lucky and solve the problem with the replacement of a relatively inexpensive part or two.
Of course another issue is, in the Yellow Pages, they don't make a clear distinction between "Honest, fairly priced genuinely competent tech" and "bungling, meth-addict ripoff artist".
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brassplyer wrote:

There are excellent 2 year training programs at your local VoTech school that will get you accepted as an apprentice at graduation. I so hope you have good liability, health and fire insurance until then.

Try calling building Services at City Hall for a list of companies that have survived a lot of city and federal Job inspections. They certainly are not going to point you to a hack...If any should exist. I would suppose that your first question would be who can I get that will work at minimum wage or do you know any illegals that will do this?
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As it turns out, I found someone to do the job for free. Me.
:-)
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brassplyer wrote:

Good for you trying to learn about the equipment that runs your home. Here's a link to a site with a lot of information about how your HVAC system works and repair procedures.
http://www.toad.net/~jsmeenen /
TDD
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wrote:

I appreciate the info, thanks.
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Steve wrote:

Dammit...Stop that. We aren't done playing with him yet.

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brassplyer wrote:

Thats the countdown to self destruct. No Joke....
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Replaced both the fan cap and compressor cap and it's runnin' like a champ now. The guy at the parts place put a meter on them and said the fan cap was on its way out and the compressor cap was kaput. The shape on the compressor cap is different - this one is oval, the old one was cylindrical about like an old car coil. However the ratings are the same and it appears to work.
Apparently it doesn't matter which side the connectors get attached to? I.e. there's not a "pos" and "neg"? It seems to be running fine.
One thing that makes me curious - I noticed that even with both the breaker for the A/C compressor on the main panel and the exterior breaker at the compressor turned off, when I turned on the air handler, the compressor relay switch still activated. I thought if the breakers are off, it interrupted the circuit to the compressor and nothing should get to any part of the unit?
Thanks again.
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brassplyer wrote:

Looks like that is near Chicago.. Heavy Union country. Be interesting to know who is superceding the service companies over there.
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That's the kind of ignorance that gets people hurt. "but I thought...."
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