Ac unit on the roof stopped working at a rental house. Called an AC
company to go look and fix. $74 flat charge to show up and diagnose -
that seemed in line. So they call me back and say the condenser motor
wasn't starting but once they gave it a nudge it worked ok. Said it
might stop again tomorrow or last another five years. The motor is
still under warranty (whole unit is only 2 years old) but the labor is
on me. So he says it will cost $275 for the labor to replace the
motor. Sounded like a rip off so I told him to just bill me the $74
(why don't they charge $75???) and I"ll take my changes. For $275 in
labor I'll go buy the motor for $111 and put it in myself. Based on
doing this in the past it should take me no more then a couple hours
total including taking it out, bringing it to the parts place, and
going back and putting it back in.
How do these guys justify $275 for an hours worth of work (in addition
to the $74 I've already paid them)???????????
Condenser fan motors don't have starting capacitors. The
motors have a "run" capacitor with a capacitance of 5-7.5
uf typically and voltage rating of 370-440 volts AC. The
run capacitors are oil filled. The start capacitors will
often but not always be for the compressor and those are
electrolytic capacitors with a wide range of capacitance
values. The compressor will have an oil filled run capacitor
with a typical value of 35-50 uf and 370-440 volts AC.
Not all AC condensing units have a start capacitor or a
start assist device from the factory, it is an option.
Most of the AC condensing units for homes have a three
terminal oil filled capacitor for the fan and compressor.
It will be marked "C" common, "F" fan and "H" hermetic
with hermetic meaning the compressor.
Since I don't know all the facts, I am only guessing. The service call
is ( $74) separate travel and time involved to diagnose.
Are you confusing condenser motor with compressor motor? If you are,
there is one big reason for teh costs. If you're not, there is
additional travel time, man hours to fix problem. It may have only
taken one man to diagnose, whereas it will take 2 men to fix. How hard
is it to get on the roof? How dangerous is it to work onthe roof? How
far up is the roof? All these are factors that affect pricing.
Also, like another poster said, it could be the capacitor. Or, it
could be a corroded switching mechanism, loose wire, bad circuit board
or a long list of things that are not the motor itself. But, if you
trust this companies diagnosis, go replace the motor if you have the
Personally, I'd let it go to see how long it runs.
On Tue, 1 Sep 2009 01:35:39 -0700 (PDT), "Hustlin' Hank"
I'm going to let it go till it's cooler and hope it keeps running.
When the weather is nicer I'll replace it. I'm pretty sure he said
condenser motor but you raise a good question. When I was over to see
if it had blown a fuse nothing on the roof was even trying to start.
My past experience has been that when it's a condenser motor the
compressor will kick on till it kicks back off from high pressure but
nothing kicked on so I figured it was not the condenser fan. And it
was so hot I didn't want to mess with it. Live and learn.
Huh, What kind of AC unit do you have that you can replace just the
compressor motor on. Do you mean the condenser fan motor? If it is
the fan motor I think they are a little high. The labor on mine was
about $150 and the guy was here about 45 minutes of which he spent
about 10 minutes doing paper work. Like you the motor was under
warranty. I would have replaced it myself but that would have voided
the remaining warranty on the unit. $275 to replace a compressor would
be a GOOD DEAL..
I'd say they shot an hour coming to your place & checking it out. They
give you a break on the price because that's how they get their foot
in the door.
If they come back and replace the motor that's another 2 hours-
getting there, doing the work, doing the paperwork & packing up.
So for 3 hours it's $350. Less than $120 an hour. That's what my
mechanic gets & I go to his place. I'd shudder to see what either
one has tied up in tools & education to keep up with all the
Seems reasonable to me.
[and if it didn't, I'd buy all the tools I needed, study up on how
it's done & do it myself.<g>]
I agree that it's not at rip off level and if he had said the motor
was frozen I would have gone ahead and let him do. It would have
taken me another day or two to handle it and my tenants were
sweltering in the heat.
Im no ac guy but just how do you give a Condensor Motor a "nudge"isnt
it completely enclosed. Once I noticed my outside unit wasnt running ,
my tech put in a new Capacitor. He said I was lucky o find out quickly
or I would have caused serious damage to the compressor. I think I
would not pay anything and get out someone else, pay his call if he
didnt lie to you or clarify what you
You free up the bearings when you "nudge" it. Many times the grease in
the bearings may dry out a little. Or, it may delvelop a little rust
on the shaft at the bearings. Either way, nudgeing it will free it up.
My AC on my motorhome quit working after sitting all winter (just like
homes). After investigation, I discovered the squirrel cage inside
wasn't turning. When I tried to turn it lightly by hand, it didn't
move. After using a little more force it moved and ran fine. I found
out that the same motor turns both the condensor fan and the
evaporator fan and it sits on the roof and is exposed to the weather.
After checking with the RV repair department, they said I needed a new
motor and installation was very high from what I can remember. After
calling the manufacturer and told them the problem, they said I need a
new motor also. Well, the following year it did the same thing after
running good after I "nudged" it. Then I shot some WD40 on the area
where the shaft meets the bearings and I turn the fan on (not the
compressor) every month. It has worked flawlessly for the last few
years without the "nudge".
That's how you "nudge" a motor. :-)
Hank <~~~~wouldn't replace anything.........yet.
My experience is that WD is nearly useless as a motor
berring oil. But, I'm glad it's worked for you. As I
understand, motor makers don't use grease. Grease is what
you get after the proper oil dries out, many years later.
The repair guys sell new motors, cause the old ones just
keep drying out. And then you have unhappy customer who
wants you to fix it for free every now and again for the
rest of your life.
I agree about the WD40. It will (and did) free it up. Now that I run
it more often, the grease/oil that is in there gets moved around and
it stays free to spin. Not because of the WD40 tho. It is because of
it not sitting still for months. Just my opinion.
On Tue, 1 Sep 2009 19:59:37 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"
The last condenser motor I replaced, several years ago, had little oil
cup/channels with a small red plastic plug in them. I assume that if
one was so inclined they could oil the things yearly. For the most
part I've found condenser motors to last a long long time, anywhere
from 5 to 15 years. This unit was only 2 years old.
I believe Ransley's point is that the poster said "condenser motor".
So, it's unclear, as there are two motors involved. The big one is
sealed inside the compressor, which you obviously can't nudge.
Assuming it's the fan motor, then yes, you could nudge that and spray
it with lube. However, since it's only 2 years old and still under
warranty, it would seem that it might be better to replace it.
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