Last evening, my A/C unit stopped working. I'd like to try to figure
out what died, how much it will cost to fix, and if I can do the
We heard a sort of buzzing sound a few times, and when I looked out
the window, I noticed that the fan blades seemed to be turning slower
than usual. I went to the thermostat and turned off the A/C for a few
minutes. When I turned it back on, I could hear a short buzz sound at
the A/C unit, but the fan blades didn't move. The buzz sound would
repeat every 10 seconds or so, but the fan never moved.
I then turned off the A/C and flipped the breaker. I tried to spin the
fan blades with a screwdriver, and they turn freely. I checked the
service disconnect box outside the house, and all looks fine.
I'm thinking that either the fan motor died, or the compressor is
dead, or both. Any thoughts?
This is just a lay-person opinion.
The fan motor is a possibility. A dead contactor (switch like device) is
Does not sound like compressor failure to me.
A service man will know how to jumper the motor and force the contactor to
determine the actual cause.
Since that is the least expensive part let's hope that is the one.
The most likely cause is : a defective combo Run Capacitor based on
what youve described. You wont be able to buy this part yourself ; it
is only available thru the Trade and you need to initiate a Service
Not necessarily so. Replacement parts can be easily (though not rapidly)
obtained via mail order OR you can take the part to Grainger's (or similar),
say "Gimme one like this" and provide the name of an A/C contractor, OR get
your jovial and friendly HVAC technician to sell you one off his truck.
Exactly correct up till the last part, I used to buy nad replace my
own caps all the time. I upgraded all my units, so haven't had a break
down for a while,
My advise is to install two separate capacitors, anyhow. That way you
only have to replace the bad one, + the separate ones are easier to
@ $10- $20 they are worth a try, that's less than 15 minutes worth of
You guys are encouraging a homeowner who hasnt had the technical
expertise to repair something he can destroy or hurt himself on. All
for the sake of a simple service call (??) . Whether he can get the
exact replacement or not, isnt the point. And to tell him to buy two
independent run capacitors and expect him to wire them in so they work
correctly and safely...is absurd im afraid. OP, call an HVAC
serviceman to do the job and realize your limitations ; at the same
time, he can check out the freon level, do preventive maintenance
routines, and tell you the overall performance of the entire system
including the inside Unit with Cooling Coil.
To a point I agree with you. I lose sight of the fact that a lot of
people lack the basic skills to even attempt such a task.
I was perhaps lucky, on my first attempt at AC repair, I peeled the
sheet metal on the outside unit and quickly spotted the problem.
That emboldened me to go deeper the next time. I do have fairly
advanced mechanical and electrical skills though, I have worked as a
auto dealer line mechanic, and the electrical I've picked up as I
Having owned several older homes you just learn it, if you have more
desire to learn than money for service calls,
I have replaced nearly every component, over the years, on various
units, except a compressor, & for that I'd call a pro.
I dealt with thieving HVAC repairmen for years before becoming disgusted
enough to learn to do much of my own servicing. It's about the only
business I know where failure of a $20 part can result in a $2000 repair
bill. That said, there are limits to what one can do without equipment
that justifies a service call by someone who has it already.
Not everyone who repairs HVAC equipment is going to
rip you off. Just like all the trades, there are some
contractors who give the rest a bad name. I have to
defend the majority of "all" trades. Word will get
around pretty quick if you gouge people no matter
what service is provided.
I'm sad that there are crooks in the AC field. A couple
years ago, a news team did a sting, and found that many of
the techs who showed up either didn't find the problem (one
wire unconnected) or did other damage while they were
working. That's a shame.
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