Ouch. Outside Amana central air conditioning unit. Compressor. $4000?

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On Thu, 08 Sep 2011 09:47:48 -0700, mkirsch1 wrote:

This I am starting to understand.

In fact, in California, they won't even let me 'buy' the compressor. The sold me the $12 capacitor; and they sold me the $45 controller; but they refused to even tell me the specs on the compressor!
The compressor plate says: - Copeland - KF - Model CR32K6-PFV-270
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On Thu, 08 Sep 2011 15:16:29 -0400, Stormin Mormon wrote:

Nice link. I found out more from talking to Copeland, now Emerson.
Copeland Technical Support (937-498-3926) told me that the motor is definitely available. They said the third section of my part number (i.e., the "270" in CR32K6-PFV-270) is merely the "BOM", which they said is meaningless from the standpoint of replacing it.
They said the second part of the triad, the PFV, is merely the voltage.
So, they say, the important part is the first set of numbers.
They provided two distributors to call in my area: RSD 408-297-9453 Baker 408-436-4950
The first can get it, but, they changed the part number from: CR32K6-PFV-270 ==> discontinued in favor of CR32K6-PFV-970
So I called Copeland back, and they confirm that the CR32K6-PFV-970 is right.
Calling the second, they can only get the CR33KQ-PFV-980WB, so I have a call into Copeland to see if 'that' part number is kosher.
Meanwhile, I find the local distributors are: - Marcone 408-275-9951 <-- don't have access to it - Appliance Parts 408-977-0404 <--- they can get it - North Air 408-286-9850 <--- they can only get the CR33KQ6-PFV - Slakey Bros 408-494-0460 <-- they can only get the CR32K6-PFV-870
Whew! I'm realizing there is a 'fraternity' because they all first ask for my company (and I'm just a person). I'm not sure if I should lie, but I've been telling them the truth - so absolutely none of them will sell it to me nor will they give me a price.
Meanwhile ... I'll start looking up a second service company to get a second opinion.
Thanks for all your help. I'm learning that the information is a bit hard to come by ... but it's out there.
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In California it may very well be against the law for an unlicensed person to work on that kind of stuff... They have some pretty whacked- out laws about environmental protection, and older refrigerants like R22 are pretty nasty to the environment.
Now stop wasting money on the parts shotgun, and get a pro in to fix it. Either that or suffer in the heat.
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On Sep 9, 11:39 am, snipped-for-privacy@rochester.rr.com wrote:

I agree. By the time you finish you will have spent more money replacing perfectly good parts than it would cost you to have a competent service guy fix it. Ask your neighbors or relatives who they have had good experieces with. Or use angies list.
You don't have any of the equipment needed to work on this stuff anyway. At a minumum you need a good meter and a set of guages. To replace anything involving the refrigerant you need a vacuum pump and a recovery tank too.
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Not just California. Per EPA regulations, it's illegal for anyone to work on that AC system without being licensed. That includes the homeowner.

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wrote:

It's not a license and it's only required to charge or recover the refrigerant. The epa does not care if you replace a cap or the contactor yourself or have a service guy do it. And the basic certificate is fairly simply to get. I got one so I could service my own units.
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OK, technically it's called "certification", meaning you've taken the required training and passed a test. Does it really matter if it's called a license or certification? And it covers any work that could result in release of refrigerant, including just hooking up gauges, which is one of the most basic service checks.

I agree you can replace the cap or the contactor. But clearly the discussion taken in context mentioned the issues that prohibit the typical homeowner from working on their own system and R22 was specifically mentioned. It was in that context that I formed my reply.
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On Sat, 10 Sep 2011 05:50:00 -0700, jamesgangnc wrote:

It's September. I'm going to look for a class, for the future, in one of those 'night schools' for adults!
Can't be any harder than scuba diving.
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On Wed, 07 Sep 2011 13:27:48 +0000, arkland wrote:

Yikes!
The Amana compressor part number was discontinued! - Compressor P/N $500 = 10481808 <== Amana no longer sells this! - Controller P/N $12 = C6170004 - Capacitor P/N $45 = D6789025
Does anyone have experience with getting reimbursement from PG&E?
I called them to send me a claim form; but I'm not sure what to put on the form since it's difficult to prove that the power outage caused the problem.
I'm currently looking for a 'similar' compressor to replace it with!
BTW, here are some numbers if anyone else needs them: Amana Central Air Conditioning Unit: Model RCB3602A Whirlpool, Amana & Maytag Customer Support: 866-616-2664 Amana A/C Parts (actually Marcone is the company): 877-337-3639
It turns out Amana didn't make the A/C. They bought it from Haier America! Haier America: 800-313-8495 (www.partsquik.com/haier)
And, Haier America didn't make the compressor; it was made by Copeland (which is now owned by "Emerson" (emersonclimate.com) 937-498-3011
There is a nice Copeland compressor troubleshooting flowchart here: http://mea.emersonclimate.com/mea/CompressorTrouble/media/index.html
The key problem, now, is how to obtain a replacement Copeland compressor!
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On Wed, 07 Sep 2011 13:27:48 +0000, arkland wrote:

Yikes!
The Amana compressor part number was discontinued! - Compressor P/N $500 = 10481808 <== Amana no longer sells this! - Controller P/N $12 = C6170004 - Capacitor P/N $45 = D6789025
Does anyone have experience with getting reimbursement from PG&E?
I called them to send me a claim form; but I'm not sure what to put on the form since it's difficult to prove that the power outage caused the problem.
I'm currently looking for a 'similar' compressor to replace it with!
BTW, here are some numbers if anyone else needs them: Amana Central Air Conditioning Unit: Model RCB3602A Whirlpool, Amana & Maytag Customer Support: 866-616-2664 Amana A/C Parts (actually Marcone is the company): 877-337-3639
It turns out Amana didn't make the A/C. They bought it from Haier America! Haier America: 800-313-8495 (www.partsquik.com/haier)
And, Haier America didn't make the compressor; it was made by Copeland (which is now owned by "Emerson" (emersonclimate.com) 937-498-3011
There is a nice Copeland compressor troubleshooting flowchart here: http://mea.emersonclimate.com/mea/CompressorTrouble/media/index.html
The key problem, now, is how to obtain a replacement Copeland compressor!
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On Wed, 07 Sep 2011 13:27:48 +0000, arkland wrote:

Yikes!
The Amana compressor part number was discontinued! - Compressor P/N $500 = 10481808 <== Amana no longer sells this! - Controller P/N $12 = C6170004 - Capacitor P/N $45 = D6789025
Does anyone have experience with getting reimbursement from PG&E?
I called them to send me a claim form; but I'm not sure what to put on the form since it's difficult to prove that the power outage caused the problem.
I'm currently looking for a 'similar' compressor to replace it with!
BTW, here are some numbers if anyone else needs them: Amana Central Air Conditioning Unit: Model RCB3602A Whirlpool, Amana & Maytag Customer Support: 866-616-2664 Amana A/C Parts (actually Marcone is the company): 877-337-3639
It turns out Amana didn't make the A/C. They bought it from Haier America! Haier America: 800-313-8495 (www.partsquik.com/haier)
And, Haier America didn't make the compressor; it was made by Copeland (which is now owned by "Emerson" (emersonclimate.com) 937-498-3011
There is a nice Copeland compressor troubleshooting flowchart here: http://mea.emersonclimate.com/mea/CompressorTrouble/media/index.html
The key problem, now, is how to obtain a replacement Copeland compressor!
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Emerson (aka Copeland) technical support (937-498-3926)just called me back with MORE information.
Even though it was 5:30am my time, I was glad to field the call.
He explained the "270", in the CR32K6-PFV-270 single-phase compressor, is merely the "bill of materials", and the 200-series was for the OEM's of the air conditioning unit itself (where 270 is Haier American who sold to Amana).
He said that's 100% equivalent to the CR32K6-PFV-970, where the 900 series is for wholesale distributors (i.e., what I would want to buy).
Similarly, the CR32K6-PFV-875 is the same compressor with a different molded plug; again, it would work and is apparently ubiquitously found.
For completeness, he said the 500 series was for overseas.
More importantly, he said the fan has nothing to do with the AC compressor so he suggested something else must be amiss.
He also said to not only check voltage, but to check voltage AT the compressor itself, particularly there should be 230VAC between the Common and Run coils.
More importantly, he said to check the resistance & he provided the specs: 1. Start to Common = 3.20 ohms +/- 7% 2. Run to Common = 0.75 ohsm +/- 7% 3. Start to Run = Add those two up (I guess then the error would be +/- 1.4%)
Lastly, he postulated only one of three things is the real problem: a) Open windings (the resistance test will determine that) b) No power to the compressor (must remove cover off the terminal box at the compressor itself & pull the wires off the compressor to test at this point!) c) Compressor is locked up
So, even though I had scheduled a visit by another company (who said they don't like people looking over their shoulders), I think I'll tell them to wait a day and I'll check it out myself.
Oh, BTW, he said a brownout usually causes the bimetallic strip to overheat but it generally doesn't fail unless it's kept that way for a long long time. He does not think it's that.
He did say the power surge 'could' blow the motor - but he didn't offer any way to tell for sure.
I do thank you all for your kind help and I appreciate that you don't have to help me. Now it's time for me to do some homework!
PS: He said the fan should have gone on nonetheless so he would suspect a power problem.
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On Wed, 07 Sep 2011 13:27:48 +0000, arkland wrote:

I'm embarrassed to report back this repair isn't completed yet, but, I will say it took a completely different turn today.
I brought the "heater" core from the bottom of the compressor into three different AC appliance parts warehouses today, and, while two didn't know what it was, the third explained that it's for heating the oil that falls cold to the bottom of the compressor during disuse.
While there, the counter guy showed me a similar 2 1/2 ton system that had similar components. While we were discussing what could be wrong (he didn't think it was the compressor), we mentioned that the power was 120V to one side and 120V to the other but zero volts between the two.
I checked it again today, and got (weirdly) different readings of 120 vac on one side, and 28 vac on the other hot wire at the fuse.
So I went to the circuit breaker in the main panel, and lo and behold, 120vac on one leg with 28 vac on the other leg!
Removing the wire from the circuit breaker I got 120vac from one side and 0vac on the other.
So, it appears, the problem was, after all, that the PG&E power outage (brownout) damaged the 30 amp ganged circuit breaker.
Unfortunately, this circuit breaker is 'wired' (with a copper wire) to 3 others, all 30 amps (the other two for the dryer), but I was able to find, after visiting quite a few electrical supply houses, a quad 30 amp circuit breaker to fit into the panel (since the panel is otherwise full so it couldn't take two separate 220v 30 amp circuit breakers).
Unfortunately, the bus bar is too thick for the circuit breaker, so I'll have to go back tomorrow and get one that has a wider opening. But, I'm confident that this is the real problem.
If so (and I'll let you know), then the AC company that checked it out first were lying cheats since they said that the voltage was within 5% of what it should be.
It wasn't even 50% of what it should be (since it was only 120 and not 220!).
Now I'm really mad at the company - but first - I have to see if the new circuit breaker (30 amp x 4, in two gangs) will fit on the bus bar which is thicker than the opening.
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On Thu, 15 Sep 2011 08:43:39 +0000, arkland wrote:

I'm steaming mad. Either the company I sent out was incompetent, or, worse yet, they're lying cheats!
They tried so hard to sell me on a new A/C unit for $4000, I should have known. They 'said' it was the 'compressor'. They 'said' the voltage "was within 5%". Guess what?
The problem had NOTHING to do with the air conditioning! The problem was merely that the 30-amp quad ganged circuit breaker was broken. Of the four 30-amp 120v circuits, one was 0 volts.
When I replaced the breaker (it wasn't easy to find a 30-amp quad breaker), everything worked just fine.
What steams me is I can't for the life of me figure out whether the air conditioning company was lying or if they were simply incompetent!
But, I'm so mad, I want to write them a letter! What else do you suggest?
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wrote:

In this case incompetence and lying is pretty much the same thing.

I'd call them up and just tell them how you resolved it. And mention that the BBB and anybody I know will hear about how they do business. That should blow off some of your steam. They'll probably hang up on you. I never had this kind of problem with getting stuff fixed. Maybe because I tell them up front I'll pay for the service call, but if I don't like what they say I'll get somebody else in.
--Vic
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On Thu, 15 Sep 2011 17:38:07 -0500, Vic Smith wrote:

business.
I looked it up and you probably meant the Better Business Bureau. I see there is a process to file a complaint, so, I will do so (I've never dealt with a BBB before, even though I'm an old guy).
It's not so much for me that I'm upset; what about the little old ladies who don't know enough to realize something was amiss. These guys were trying to take me for a ride. I can publish their name & address here, but the better part of valor would be to formally complain to the BBB as you suggested.
In hindsight, I feel kind of stupid though.
I took for granted that the wiring was OK (especially since they said they "tested it to be within 5%"). So for the past 10 days, I've been concentrating on the AC unit (learning how it works and replacing the capacitor and controller).
I should have started with the basics, i.e., "is it plugged in", which, (in effect) it turned out to be.
When I talk to them, I'm going to ask for a reduced bill!

That's good advice. I think they took me for a fool, which, embarrassingly, I was. I believed them. Next time I'll tell them to give me a diagnosis, and if it comes with an estimate, that I'll get three good estimates before choosing. Words to the wise.
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On Thu, 15 Sep 2011 16:29:58 -0700, Oren wrote:

I never heard of a state contractor's board. I'm in California, in Santa Clara County. Lemme look that up...
It looks like I can file a complaint here: http://www.cslb.ca.gov/consumers/FilingAComplaint/FileAComplaint.asp
I'm confused though as this "state contractors board" seems to be for 'new construction' only.
The company that I'm complaining about is called "Comfort Energy", 408-263-3100. http://www.comfortzone-air.com
They came recommended to me by someone I know well (who has been kept informed of the progress all along).
I can't tell from their web site if they're a big company, but, they've been in business since 1929 it seems and they seem to do new construction as well as old.
I just filled out a "contact me" form at the Comfort Energy web site and I will see what I can do about filling out a complaint at the State Contractor's License Board site too!
Thanks for the advice. I'm embarrassed it took me this long, but, it was partly because Comfort Energy told me the compressor was bad, so, I was tracking down the wrong rabbit all along!
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On Fri, 16 Sep 2011 10:23:54 -0700, Oren wrote:

Yesterday, I called the co-president of "Comfort Energy", Yuka Abbot, at 408-263-3100. http://www.comfortzone-air.com (formerly Comfort Zone Mechanical Air Company).
She was good enough to listen to what I had to say, which was mostly that neither my fan nor my compressor was working, but it had 24 volts as the contactor was working fine and the capacitor appeared undamaged. I explained the experience tracking down the wrong diagnosis cost me a couple hundred dollars and ten days and that I didn't want a little old lady to have the same problem in the future.
She said she'd have her husband, the VP, Harry Abbott, a former cop, call me, but, instead, they directed E.J. Hansen, the manager of the technicians to talk to me by phone. To his credit, he almost immediately did so.
He was personable, understanding, and said he'd call me on Wednesday to let me know the resolution.
I'm out two hundred dollars plus my compressor is (self) damaged as I was all this time trying to figure out what was wrong with it since they expressly told me it was the bad part. In doing so, I removed the lower heating thermoswitch, which turned out to not have any bearing on the problem (of course, since the entire AC system was working in the first place ... it just didn't have power).
I had taken that part to Marcone (who had never seen one before), and to APED (who likewise had never seen them) and to Appliance Parts on the Alameda in San Jose, who also had never seen it. However, John at Appliance parts kindly referred me to Northaire in northern San Jose who knew right away what it was. (Remember, it was Greg at Northaire who patiently explained to me there was no way a bad fan and bad compressor would be anything other than the capacitor, contactor, or bad power). When I explained the power readings I obtained both before and after the Comfort Energy visit, Greg stopped right there, and said "it's clear as day", you have only one leg of power.
A customer, Jim, a licensed electrician and A/C guy, offered to stop by to help me, and we exchanged calls and set up an appointment because he too said a lot of companies aren't truthful when dealing with air conditioners (which requires licensed technicians).
At that point, I finally realized that this is a 'special' case because we are FORCED to trust the LICENSED people to work on our A/C. Remember, I've talked to a dozen companies by now, and they all clam up when they realize that I'm not a licensed technician. They won't even tell me the price of a compressor! They certainly won't sell it to me. In fact, some expressed surprise that they'd sell me the contactor and/or capacitor!
Anyway, after all this, the problem embarrassingly, was simply that the circuit breaker was bad. There was only 120v at the A/C unit fuses instead of 240 volts. But they CLEARLY (and REPEATEDLY) told me the compressor was bad. They couldn't explain why the fan wasn' working which made no sense to me but I had to trust them as they're the experts, not me. And they're the only ones LICENSED to work on this A/C unit, not me!
Proving that point, unfortunately, I broke the plastic surrounds around that thermoswitch in the process. This bottom plug in simply warms the compressor oil, but now my compressor is likely to fail sooner simply because of the mis-diagnosis of a compressor failure by Comfort Energy.
The end result is that it cost me a compressor component, ten days, and two hundred dollars.
Yet, that's cheap compared to the $4000 they were desperately trying to sell me.
After talking to Yuka Abbott, and to E.J Hansen, I'm not sure which of the three possibilities (well, actually two) are correct: 1. I'm wrong and the technician did a good job <== almost impossible 2. The technician failed to test that 240 volts existed at the AC unit <=P% 3. The technician committed the crime of fraud <== 50%
The company, seemingly sincerely, is telling me that it's #2, an honest mistake. I'll wait 'till Wednesday to make my decision as to whether or not I will file a suit, file a grievance with the state, or what.
The problem is that this is happening to others who don't doublecheck the technician! How do we prevent this from happening again?
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On Sat, 17 Sep 2011 15:07:30 +0000, U vigilance wrote:

Ooops. I use one nym per unrelated thread when I have more than one at the same time; but accidentally used this nym to respond. This should have been with the arkland nym. Sorry for the confusion.
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On Sat, 17 Sep 2011 15:07:30 +0000 (UTC), U vigilance

If you can get your $200 back, fine. Maybe the guy's honest and will fire or train his tech, maybe not. I'd still do the BBB complaint to try to protect the little old ladies Just remember licensing doesn't mean you're not dealing with a crook or incompetent. If you can't do the diagnosis yourself, when somebody says it'll cost you $4000, just get somebody else in. At $4000, I'd probably go to a 4th opinion. Honestly, I've never had this problem with repairs. When I had to replace my lift system pump I was willing to pay one joker about $1500 more than I ended up getting it done for, but that pales compared to your story. My Ma got taken by a chimney shaker for about 3 grand. Real sleazeball. Even me and 2 big brothers-in-law visiting the guy in his office couldn't shake the money loose. We didn't go beyond veiled threats. We wanted to think hard before become lawbreakers ourselves, In the meantime Ma filed a complaint with the States Attorney and got her money back in a few weeks. If I got screwed hard that's where I'd go. Beyond complaining, you shouldn't let it bother you too much. Too many crooks out there.
--Vic
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