YORK compressor won't always start


Hello gang. I've got an issue I'm trying to diagnose, and some of the posting I've read on this site are very helpful. I'm the owner of the unit, and I've gone through multiple technicians who have been unsuccessful. I'm not on here to cut corners, and I'm no do-it-yourself'er. I'm currently working with a knowledgable tech that I trust, but he's running out of idea. And he's been working directly with the YORK technical service rep in our area.
So here it goes. Live it Phoenix, and it's been 110/day. Unit running fine all summer, turned off for 1 week vacation, and issues arose upon return. Unit is 3.5 ton YORK heat pump, circa 1985. Well maintained, and in generally good shape...just old.
When turned on, in AC mode, the inside blower would run, but neither the fan or compressor would start on outside unit. But this proved to be intermittent. Unit would sometimes start, but then would run short while and kick off, with the "EM Heat" light coming on. In general, it'd run in the cooler mornings, and error in the hot afternoons and evenings. I'm not sure the significance, but the pattern was beyond coincidence.
The YORK tech determined one of the sensors was bad (Ambient sensor, discharge sensor, liquid sensor, DS Defrost sensor). The tech suggested jumpering two pins in the control module, to take these sensors out of circuit. We did that, problem appeared to be solved, as the unit fired right up, and cooled without issue that night and next day.
End of next day, different problem (prob same problem, but now different manifestation given elimination of sensors). Now the outside unit fan motor always turns on, but compressor does not. Unit just blows warm air in the house. Like clockwork, three days in a row now, I leave the unit off until it cools down outside, then it fires right up and runs until the next day's afternoon. When it's running, air is ice cold and cools the house immediately.
Any direction would be great help. The current direction my tech has recommended was adding a "hard-start" kit, which I understand to be a higher charging cap? While this new cap can't hurt, I assume, I'm wondering about whether the reversing solenoid or the high pressure sensor might be to blame?
Lastly, if it ends up being the HP sensor, and assume the sensor works, any ideas on what temperature-related scenario could be creating the high pressure?
Thank you all, for your time. -------------------------------------
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On Sun, 30 Aug 2009 19:52:15 +0000, Rerich00_at_gmail_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (Cant_Sleep) wrote:

    There's problem # 1 :-).

    FAR beyond its reasonable life expectancy. 24 years ???? Geez !!!

    Any tech should be able to approach a non-functioning unit and see what's keeping it off. Why can't he ?

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Cant_Sleep wrote:

110F daytime? Try the hard start capacitor immediately and go from there. Give your Technician free rein and get this over with. Christ, it is August in Phoenix! Expect to pay extra when you have a heat pump.

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Cant_Sleep had written this in response to http://www.thestuccocompany.com/hvac/Re-YORK-compressor-won-t-always-start-38334-.htm :
Don Ocean wrote:

-------------------------------------
Thanks for the advice. The "trick" to my tech diagnosing this, is that it's intermittent, and as luck would typically have it, it's usually running while he's here. Last time it was down and he was here, the York technical service work around of jumpering the sensors seemed to do the trick. He's never experienced this type of unit (no surprise there), or this particular issue. I'm hoping by broadcasting to a wider audience, I'll find someone who's seen this problem. There were a few threads on there that were quite close.
The tech is great, very supportive and cooperative in this problem. I've given him free reign to replace whatever might be the cause. Because the unit runs so long without issue, I feel like the major working parts are fundamentally intact, and we're moments away from a relatively cheap fix once we find it.
Longer term, we're heading down the path of new units. Like you said...how much more can I possibly expect from units of this age. That said, I'd LOVE to get through the month of Sept with this unit, to make the change at my leisure over the winter.
Thanks for your help.
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On Mon, 31 Aug 2009 00:46:02 +0000, Rerich00_at_gmail_dot snipped-for-privacy@foo.com (Cant_Sleep) wrote:

    If it comes down to it, consider a temporary window unit to get you through the month. Then keep it for emergencies anyway.
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.p.jm.@see_my_sig_for_address.com wrote:

Spend the Summer in Seligman.

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Seldom have I read an opinion so well described.
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The other techs on this list are going to really have kittens, but this leads to my favorite diagnosis. Clean the condensor. Your tech should turn off the power. Take off some sheet metal. Spray on cleaning chemical (probably the purple stuff). Onto the fins and tubes. Wait several minutes, and repeat. He should clean the coils at least three times, to do it right. And then lots of water to rinse off the chemicals.
Sounds like your outdoor unit isn't properly releasing the heat, and that's causing the compressor to over heat.
Sorry, guys, but that's my internet diagnosis for this case.
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Being in dry Phoenix, that will likely provide good evaporative cooling. On the units I service, I've seen evaporative cooling, even in more humid NY. From what he's describing, I can't be sure the condensor is actually clean.
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Cant_Sleep wrote:

During the hottest part of the summer, I had a customer who's 2.5 ton Carrier condensing unit became a bit recalcitrant when it came to starting. A small kick-start unit cured the problem. Ask you service tech to try a suitably sized start assist device.
TDD
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Wow, that must hurt if it backfires.
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With the heat, and what he was describing. Sounded more like it was cycling on thermal overload.
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<snip>
Dude.
That's very old for a heat pump. You mention that it's well maintained, but make no mention of any part being replaced since Rick Springfield was all the rage. Do you actually know the history of this unit? For starters, I don't think anyone makes a contactor or capacitor that would possibly last that long these days. A YORK unit should be convertible to AC only FWIR. They were doing it in the factory in '88. That would eliminate many of potential heat pump issues for the time being to see what's what. You know the condenser only is a fairly simple contraption?
HTH, Lefty
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wrote:

    What exactly do you mean by 'since' there, camper ?
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LOL, like any fourteen year old girl these days has ever heard of Rick Springfield. He's been replaced twenty five times over by the iCarly's and Hannah Montanas and such just like the Michael Jacksons and Elvises (Elvi?) before him.
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