A/C outside fan not running

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When we switch on the A/C (or just the fan), the unit inside the house comes on but the outside fan does not run. Importantly when the A/C unit is switched on or off, we can hear the "clicking" sound in the outside unit. Also power seems to be coming to the outside unit (this was checked by a handyman) but fan does not turn on.
Air being blown through the vents in the house can hardly be felt and it is not cool.
Any ideas what could be wrong. The handyman who came to check the unit didn't have all the diagnostic tools but he felt that maybe either the capacitor or the compressor is defective. He says he cannot say for certain yet and is going to bring more diagnostic tools day after tomorrow.
From the description I have given above, can someone suggest the reasons for the problem ? Also, I think the handyman guy may be trying to fleece me. Is there something I can look over his shoulder or are there any questions I can ask him that can help figure out the real problem (and prevent him from unnecessarily replacing the part that doesn't need replacement) ?
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In alt.home.repair snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Kamal) wrote:

Possibilities in order of likelyhood.
1. The fan capacitor is burned out. This is easy to check and takes no special "diagnostic tools." A simple volt meter will do.
2. The fan motor is burned out.
3. Something else

Definitely watch over his shoulder for ANYTHING. AC repairmen are notoriously dirty. I really don't care if it pisses off the ones in this group, it is a fact proven time and again.
Do you have a VOM meter? You can get one at Walmart for less than $20 and check these things yourself. To easily check the cap, you want one with a needle on it, not a digital one. You can do it with a digital meter but it is easier to see on an analog meter. Many times when the cap fails, it will bulge out. That is easy to see. If not, you have to place your meter to read ohms and place the leads across the two terminals of the cap. Caps behave funny when you check them like this. What you want to see is the needle swing all the way over to almost full scale then slowly lower back to the other end of the scale. This is showing the cap charging with the voltage output by the meter. If it doesn't move or swings over and stays, the cap is bad.
As for the fan motor itself, poke a pencil through the grill and see if it turns freely. If it doesn't, the bearings could be burned up. If it does, it could still be burnt up but it is to much typing to tell you how to check that.
My advice is that if the cap checks ok, the motor is likely toast. If the cap is bad, the motor is likely fine so don't let him tell you to replace teh motor if the cap is bad until he shows you that it doesn't work with the new cap in there.
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(Kamal) wrote:

Pre-1a. 240 volt line voltage is actually not present at outdoor unit.
Pre-1b. Wire burnt off of load side of contactor.

If you don't trust him because of something he's done or some misleading practice, get another opinion.

Not to plagerize another poster's phrase, but blow me. The fact of the matter is that humans are notoriously dirty. It's present in every trade, every aspect of your life. I really don't care what your opinion is on the matter - I'm content with my moral fabric and need not stoop to hasty generalizations of any group of humans.

Amazing you didn't tell the OP to discharge the capacitor before checking it with that $20 meter from Wal-Mart. I hope he lives to see the sun come up tomorrow. Those leads are Cat III rated on those right?

Agreed, if you want to check the bearings in the fan motor, kill the power to the unit and spin away.

My advice is to use a licensed repairman that won't just throw parts at it or advise you to stick tinker toy meter leads into a 240 volt panel.
- Robert
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In alt.home.repair

She said the compressor is heard running.

Meter inputs are high impedence and the leads on any meter are good for 600-1000 volts.

Are you suggesting that I can't test a cap or check the line voltage with a $20 meter from Walmart? How much money you got?
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wrote:

Wrong. The OP stated they heard a clicking noise and that their handyman 'felt' that the fan and or compressor was faulty.
BEGIN ORIGINAL POST QUOTE When we switch on the A/C (or just the fan), the unit inside the house comes on but the outside fan does not run. Importantly when the A/C unit is switched on or off, we can hear the "clicking" sound in the outside unit. Also power seems to be coming to the outside unit (this was checked by a handyman) but fan does not turn on.
Air being blown through the vents in the house can hardly be felt and it is not cool.
Any ideas what could be wrong. The handyman who came to check the unit didn't have all the diagnostic tools but he felt that maybe either the capacitor or the compressor is defective. He says he cannot say for certain yet and is going to bring more diagnostic tools day after tomorrow. END ORINGIN POST QUOTE

Wrong. A statement like that merely indicates that you are a fool. I pray for your sake that you don't try that $20 meter out on 600+ volt applications or you could very well wind up a dead fool.

Had you read my reply without your head stuck in your lower quadrant you would understand that I recommended knowing the proper procedure for checking the capacitor with an analog meter. You left off the first step and I would label it one of the most important. I could care less what grade of tool you care to use, I am fairly certain that either you or I could check the components of this system with a $20 meter. I just choose to trust my life to a bit higher standard.
YOU are the one that posted an anal response and suggested throwing parts at the problem until it's fixed. The OP should be more concerned if you showed up to do the job than the incompetent handyman they already have. To answer your last question to me, more than enough.
- Robert
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In alt.home.repair

OK, fair enough. Check for 240 at the condensor, no biggie. Easily done with my $20 meter.

OK, I'll bet you $1,000 I can buy a meter at Walmart and chekc the voltage on a 600 volt AC circuit with it. Where do you wish to meet, and bring your cash? Do you even know what high impdence imputs are?

So, you're saying I'm right. Thanks.

Excuse me? I said test the cap and test the motor. I didn't say try a different cap or motor.

Hate to disappoint but I am not in that business and would not EVER choose to be in that business. The work is much to hard and hot and dirty. I'll work at an air-conditioned desk and make much more money, thanks.
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wrote:

This is Turtle.
I will say one thing here and you can take it or not.
The Walmart VOM that they sell for $12.99 will read up to 750 volts and the meter will be good to keep any out sparking down because of the insulated propertys of the meter it'self. Now if you look in the instruction and you will see the wires are only rated for 300 volts because they will tell you to not use the meter in very high voltage equipment because of electrical sparking that can occure on high voltage service. These meters are made in china and they don't care about your well being. They know this : all the people that will buy this meter will not be testing voltages above 240 volts because of residentiual service of houses and the 480 and 500 volt systems will be commercial equipment and they will not be testing this high voltage. By you saying that you would test a 480 volt service with a VOM that has wires on it that is only rated for 300 volt. Well you need to keep your present job because you may not be long for this world testing the 480 volt system with the 300 volt rated wires. You only make one mistake with 480 volt service and it will be your last. You don't have to touch 480 volt service wires for they will travel through the air and hit you.
Any Commercial Electrician or HVAC service man that works on 480 volt system. they will not buy their VOM and equipment at Walmarts for they like living too much.
TURTLE
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I hate Walmart, and would not recommend anyone to buy anything from (Walmart) SlaveMart. But,...
1) Internal resistance of the voltmeter is very high, and this means very low current passing threw its circuits!
2) If a voltmeter resistance (impedance) is low, it would not be able to measure voltage correctly.
3) Low current = no sparking (or very little) unless you short something, or voltmeter probs are bad.
4) Low current = no wires will be melted when measured voltage.
5) When they say wires are rated at 300 volts, this means when connected in parallel to measure current.
6) Every wire has resistance. If you VOM allows you to measure 20 Amps they computed based on the internal
resistance of those wires that 300 volts at 20amps would be safe....
7) In any case, you will be fine measuring 480V with it.
M
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Mike J wrote:

leads? NOTHING!

Another miss statement. An older analog meter of medium impedance. (there were really no LOW Z models to speak of) would still read fine.
This is only a factor in an electronic circuit where the impedance of a meter could load down the circuit. This would never happen in a 120/220 volt situation like were talking about. A low voltage digital circuit, maybe.
There are probably old school techs still out there with simpson 260's.

current des not mean the leads cannot arc.

volts with a cheap meter. (or without proper safety gloves and goggles). And you sure won't be measuring 480 in a normal private residence
Checking a cap with a normal DVM is NOT a 100% method of checking. The only truly proper way is with a cap checker. A cap checker checks ESR, Capacitance, leakage, and maybe breakdown voltage. Non of which a normal VOM or DVM can do. If think you can accurately check the above with a wallmart meter please tell me how.... With a DVM, you can see if its shorted, or that it will charge to some degree. That's it. Some higher end DVM's might also give you a capacitance reading, but non of the other specialized tests.
For a homeowner that is NOT familiar with electricity, it all comes down to safety. Even 120 volts can kill. I think some of the people that know better here have visions of someone taking the outdoor unit apart with tools laying around and the main 220v breaker still energized. All it takes is once slip. Believe me, even those who know better get shocked or have accidents on occasion.
You should feel lucky that a few of the HVAC pros answer questions here. A well versed technically proficient homeowner can do some of these tests and repairs. But the average Joe who is electricity deficient should NOT. I think the key is anyone who does not already own a meter and know how to use it should steer clear from a project like this.
Bob

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I had my grand father's Simpson 260, and probably still have it. Something mashed the glass, and it doesn't read right any more. Great meter.
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Christopher A. Young
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Mike J writes:

I love Walmart, and will now double my purchasing there to compensate for you.
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This is Turtle.
So M , You say it is OK to hold a wire / Lead from a VOM in your hand with the insulation on the wire rated at 300 volts or less and I apply 480 volts to the wire. You say you will be safe holding the wire in your hand when standing in a puddle of water or wet feet. Well M , If you say yes. i got to say you got Balls. I just don't have the Balls to do that and you can just call me a chicken out person.
TURTLE
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Better chicken out than electrically fried out. Chicken outs stay alive.
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Low resistance for voltage measurements isn't a problem with with items like motors, lights, and transformers only with transistors and chips and automotive exhaust oxygen sensors (ruins them). I've seen cheap analog meters rated for as little 1,000 ohms per volt (i.e., the 10V scale will give 10,000 ohms, the 50V scale 50,000 ohms), but you wouldn't want those anyway because they can be notoriously inaccurate in any case. Better analog meters are rated for at least 10,000 or 20,000 ohms/volt (lower figure for AC, higher for DC), but the worst digital meter I've seen was rated for 1 megaohm, with 10M being far more common, even among cheap models.

Still, don't use one around a gas leak.

I don't know of any meter that will do that when set to "volts," unless the voltage is so high that it arcs over internally and turns into a short.

They mean 300V AC + DC, period, even if one end of the wire is connected to the voltage source and the other end just dangles in free air.

You measure 480V only with high quality equipment rated for at least that much voltage, and you make sure that your meter probes and cables have not even the tiniest damage in the insulation, and you use only meter leads that both fit securely in their sockets and can't expose a tip if one pulls out accidentally -- that's why manufacturers went to insulator sleeves around banana jacks.
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I hate to say it, but some of the most careless people I've seen around electricity were professional electricians and HVAC mechanics, and I've seen a few test for voltage on 480V circuits with their finger, even when they had their meter with them. The most safety conscious tended to be electronics techs who, ironically, worked almost exclusively on low voltage equipment.
Don't buy a meter that isn't UL or CSA approved, and don't trust Europe's CE mark because they'll pass almost anything (exposed jack metal close to the surface, 250V fuses for 600V).
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This is Turtle.
You got me here. How do you test a 480 volt service with your fingers? Also did you go to the funeral or visit them in the hospital when they got their hand blown off. I would like to know about this one.
TURTLE
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Those people were "pretty sure" those circuits were dead, but I always cringed when I saw them do it. Also one of them had a habit of turning on any breaker that was off, without first asking around the job site.
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This is Turtle.
You touch 480 volt with your finger one time and the next person you see is the Lord.
TURTLE
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I read the original post three times, and didn't see this.
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Bruce writes:

Big spender. Use the $4 digital meter from Harbor Freight. These work great; I use 'em for permanently installed meters on electronics for CNC machine tools.
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