Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

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mancich
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Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by mancich » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:53 pm

Hello all,

I have 2 zones of central air in my home. Each has an air handler and an outside condenser. The upstairs zone was changed out completely about 2 years ago. I have both zones serviced every year religiously. The most recent servicing of the downstairs unit was about a month ago. My heating/cooling company said everything looked ok, despite the unit being 22 years old.

Well today, the outside unit stopped working; the air handler still was blowing air through the house vents, but it wasn't cold. When I went outside, I saw that the fan on the condenser wasn't spinning. I pulled the breaker to prevent any "seizing" issues with the motor (or worse). I then researched this, and it seems like the issue is either a capacitor that has gone bad, or the motor itself. They're about $30 and $165, respectively. YouTube videos make it look fairly simple to change them out.

Here's my question. Although I'm fairly confident I could change out both myself, I'm not positive that either of those things is the issue. OTOH, replacing the condenser and air handler would total about $4500 for a 3 ton unit, 14 SEER. Is is worth it to attempt the repair, or just bite the bullet and replace the unit and air handler? We have plenty of cash and do not expect to move from the home for many years, if ever.

Thanks for any input. :beer

sport
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by sport » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:02 pm

I would try replacing the capacitor. It is not expensive and it is easy to replace. If that is not the problem, you have lost little. Be sure the power is off when you replace it.

mancich
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by mancich » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:04 pm

sport wrote:I would try replacing the capacitor. It is not expensive and it is easy to replace. If that is not the problem, you have lost little. Be sure the power is off when you replace it.
Thanks. I was kind of leaning that way too

sport
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by sport » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:19 pm

In my experience, if you have the service company replace that part, they will charge for a service call. They will also want to charge about $150 for that $30 part.

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tennisplyr
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by tennisplyr » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:26 pm

Try to replace it if you feel comfortable doing it.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

Spirit Rider
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:31 pm

If you have a reasonable knowledge of electricity and can use a multi-meter and follow routine troubleshooting steps. It should be relatively easy to determine if is something simple like the start/run capacitor, the contactor (solenoid), or possibly the fan motor. These are all rather common points of failure. The capacitor should almost be considered a once every decade or so consumable part, with the contactor and motor not unlikely to fail in 20+ years of operation.

These are all reasonably easy for a reasonably knowledgeable and safe DIY individual to replace. Please do some research and actually troubleshoot the problem and not just go on an easter egg hunt. For example, it is not unheard of for the thermostat to fail and you are not getting call for cooling from the thermostat. There is usually, a schematic on the inside of the cover over the electrical/electronic components.

Note: There can be many other reasons for the compressor not to run, there are many lock outs. You need to research a good troubleshooting procedure going in.
Last edited by Spirit Rider on Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

neilpilot
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by neilpilot » Sat Jun 24, 2017 7:37 pm

I have 3 outdoor units, and in the past 2 years have replaced the fan motors on two with good results. Does you compressor run but the fan does not?

While not fool proof, CAREFULLY use a stick or some other tool to rotate the inoperable fan. Do this first with the power off, and then with the power on. If it will not rotate freely with the power off, then the bearings are likely bad and/or the shaft seized and a new motor is required. If it turns freely with the power off, then CAREFULLY turn it again right after you start the compressor. When you turn it, if it stats and runs normally, that's an indication that all you need is a start capacitor (usually under $10 and very easy to change).

CurlyDave
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by CurlyDave » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:15 pm

sport wrote:I would try replacing the capacitor. It is not expensive and it is easy to replace. If that is not the problem, you have lost little. Be sure the power is off when you replace it.
I own 12 rental units plus our house has 3 heat pumps, so I have 15 air conditioning units total. Ages vary from a few years up to 30 years. Most of the time the capacitor is the culprit in this failure. If you try the capacitor and it doesn't fix the problem, getting a quote on a new unit may very well convince you to try replacing the motor. I have ordered both parts online for different brands. Typically it the savings on a motor are substantial, the capacitor is so inexpensive that the convenience of picking one up a a local supplier is often worth the extra cost.

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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by WildBill » Sat Jun 24, 2017 9:55 pm

mancich wrote:Hello all,

I have 2 zones of central air in my home. Each has an air handler and an outside condenser. The upstairs zone was changed out completely about 2 years ago. I have both zones serviced every year religiously. The most recent servicing of the downstairs unit was about a month ago. My heating/cooling company said everything looked ok, despite the unit being 22 years old.

Well today, the outside unit stopped working; the air handler still was blowing air through the house vents, but it wasn't cold. When I went outside, I saw that the fan on the condenser wasn't spinning. I pulled the breaker to prevent any "seizing" issues with the motor (or worse). I then researched this, and it seems like the issue is either a capacitor that has gone bad, or the motor itself. They're about $30 and $165, respectively. YouTube videos make it look fairly simple to change them out.

Here's my question. Although I'm fairly confident I could change out both myself, I'm not positive that either of those things is the issue. OTOH, replacing the condenser and air handler would total about $4500 for a 3 ton unit, 14 SEER. Is is worth it to attempt the repair, or just bite the bullet and replace the unit and air handler? We have plenty of cash and do not expect to move from the home for many years, if ever.

Thanks for any input. :beer
Howdy

A capacitor is an easy fix. You can check the one you have in there now with a multi meter to see if it is good. Blown capacitors will often (sometimes) show it physically with deformation or swelling in the top. Be careful - if the capacitor is working it will be charged and careless tinkering will discharge it, with potentially unfortunate results for adjacent electronic circuitry and humans.

Beyond that it is trickier and there are more things to consider. If the unit is 21 years old it uses the old version of Freon coolant which sells in excess of $100 per pound. If you need to recharge the unit it would cost circa $500. The price of coolant will continue to increase and will be unobtainable in several years. That does argue for biting the bullet and replacing the unit for one which uses the new, much cheaper, coolant now if there is a major repair necessary.

You will need to replace the unit at some point due to the future unavailability of the coolant it uses. This may be a good opportunity to do so.

Why not call the company who did the earlier work to come out on a service call and troubleshoot it for you? In our medium cost neck of the woods that is about $80.

I like to do stuff myself and am pretty handy, but there are some areas where I observe the CAP principle ( Call a professional) Messing with HVAC systems is one of them.

Good luck

W B
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid

Teague
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by Teague » Sat Jun 24, 2017 10:03 pm

WildBill wrote: ...Be careful - if the capacitor is working it will be charged and careless tinkering will discharge it, with potentially unfortunate results for adjacent electronic circuitry and humans.
...
Very important point above, and just to emphasize, if the capacitor is working at all, even not well enough to make your unit work, it will store a charge for some period of time.
Semper Augustus

mancich
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by mancich » Sun Jun 25, 2017 4:07 am

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful responses. I did do quite a bit of research on the capacitor, and especially the safety precautions regarding it's discharge. I'm going to open up the unit today and have a look (breaker is pulled), taking extra care with the capacitor. We keep a separate "house" fund in a Capital One online savings account for these types of emergencies, but it will still be annoying to have to spend the money for a totally new unit if it comes to that. Though I know it owes me nothing due to its age.

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Cosmo
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by Cosmo » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:12 am

mancich wrote:Hello all,

I have 2 zones of central air in my home. Each has an air handler and an outside condenser. The upstairs zone was changed out completely about 2 years ago. I have both zones serviced every year religiously. The most recent servicing of the downstairs unit was about a month ago. My heating/cooling company said everything looked ok, despite the unit being 22 years old.

Well today, the outside unit stopped working; the air handler still was blowing air through the house vents, but it wasn't cold. When I went outside, I saw that the fan on the condenser wasn't spinning. I pulled the breaker to prevent any "seizing" issues with the motor (or worse). I then researched this, and it seems like the issue is either a capacitor that has gone bad, or the motor itself. They're about $30 and $165, respectively. YouTube videos make it look fairly simple to change them out.

Here's my question. Although I'm fairly confident I could change out both myself, I'm not positive that either of those things is the issue. OTOH, replacing the condenser and air handler would total about $4500 for a 3 ton unit, 14 SEER. Is is worth it to attempt the repair, or just bite the bullet and replace the unit and air handler? We have plenty of cash and do not expect to move from the home for many years, if ever.

Thanks for any input. :beer
You didn't mention where you live. Down in the Houston area, if you get 12-15 years from a unit, consider yourself very fortunate. I would just bite the bullet and replace the entire unit. You are on borrowed time. Also, older units use freon and the cost per pound is going up every year as it is no longer used in new systems.

mancich
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by mancich » Sun Jun 25, 2017 6:33 am

Cosmo wrote:
mancich wrote:Hello all,

I have 2 zones of central air in my home. Each has an air handler and an outside condenser. The upstairs zone was changed out completely about 2 years ago. I have both zones serviced every year religiously. The most recent servicing of the downstairs unit was about a month ago. My heating/cooling company said everything looked ok, despite the unit being 22 years old.

Well today, the outside unit stopped working; the air handler still was blowing air through the house vents, but it wasn't cold. When I went outside, I saw that the fan on the condenser wasn't spinning. I pulled the breaker to prevent any "seizing" issues with the motor (or worse). I then researched this, and it seems like the issue is either a capacitor that has gone bad, or the motor itself. They're about $30 and $165, respectively. YouTube videos make it look fairly simple to change them out.

Here's my question. Although I'm fairly confident I could change out both myself, I'm not positive that either of those things is the issue. OTOH, replacing the condenser and air handler would total about $4500 for a 3 ton unit, 14 SEER. Is is worth it to attempt the repair, or just bite the bullet and replace the unit and air handler? We have plenty of cash and do not expect to move from the home for many years, if ever.

Thanks for any input. :beer
You didn't mention where you live. Down in the Houston area, if you get 12-15 years from a unit, consider yourself very fortunate. I would just bite the bullet and replace the entire unit. You are on borrowed time. Also, older units use freon and the cost per pound is going up every year as it is no longer used in new systems.
Good point. We live in upstate NY, so we really only use the AC about 3-4 months a year

goblue100
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by goblue100 » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:46 am

I've taken the capacitor from my upstairs unit to test the one in the bottom unit. Costs nothing but a few minutes time. If it works, then go to Graingers and get a replacement. If not, probably worth it to get it a new higher efficiency unit.
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by blaugranamd » Sun Jun 25, 2017 7:52 am

sport wrote:I would try replacing the capacitor. It is not expensive and it is easy to replace. If that is not the problem, you have lost little. Be sure the power is off when you replace it.
This. Post a picture of the capacitor. If the top is bulging, the capacitor is shot. Make sure you replace it with the correct one. Replacing a capacitor is easy. I have minimal electrical experience and this was a super easy fix when my 20+ year old unit stopped working. Make sure you have the breaker off and some units also have an outdoor fuse box you can pull. Putting a new capacitor in is as simple as pulling a few connections and plugging them into the new capacitor.
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by hightower » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:28 am

mancich wrote:Hello all,

I have 2 zones of central air in my home. Each has an air handler and an outside condenser. The upstairs zone was changed out completely about 2 years ago. I have both zones serviced every year religiously. The most recent servicing of the downstairs unit was about a month ago. My heating/cooling company said everything looked ok, despite the unit being 22 years old.

Well today, the outside unit stopped working; the air handler still was blowing air through the house vents, but it wasn't cold. When I went outside, I saw that the fan on the condenser wasn't spinning. I pulled the breaker to prevent any "seizing" issues with the motor (or worse). I then researched this, and it seems like the issue is either a capacitor that has gone bad, or the motor itself. They're about $30 and $165, respectively. YouTube videos make it look fairly simple to change them out.

Here's my question. Although I'm fairly confident I could change out both myself, I'm not positive that either of those things is the issue. OTOH, replacing the condenser and air handler would total about $4500 for a 3 ton unit, 14 SEER. Is is worth it to attempt the repair, or just bite the bullet and replace the unit and air handler? We have plenty of cash and do not expect to move from the home for many years, if ever.

Thanks for any input. :beer
I've done these repairs on an ac unit once. Turned out in my case not to be the problem (it was actually a short in the circuit from a faulty wire connection), but the repair wasnt bad. If that's all that it is it could totally be worth it in my opinion.

myleaf
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by myleaf » Sun Jun 25, 2017 9:58 am

A good chance it is the capacitor (cheap guess). If you plan to replace changing, in addition to switching off the breaker. There most likely is a manual disconnect next to the unit that you can pull out to disable the power to the unit. I heard that if the the capacitor is bad you can try to manually spin the fan (with a stick maybe) and it will start to run. If you are not comfortable with the repairs - get a professional.
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by WildBill » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:19 am

goblue100 wrote:I've taken the capacitor from my upstairs unit to test the one in the bottom unit. Costs nothing but a few minutes time. If it works, then go to Graingers and get a replacement. If not, probably worth it to get it a new higher efficiency unit.
This is not a good idea if the capacitors are different specs.
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by neilpilot » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:25 am

WildBill wrote:
goblue100 wrote:I've taken the capacitor from my upstairs unit to test the one in the bottom unit. Costs nothing but a few minutes time. If it works, then go to Graingers and get a replacement. If not, probably worth it to get it a new higher efficiency unit.
This is not a good idea if the capacitors are different specs.
I agree. Also in my opinion it's not worth the trouble of opening the other AC unit just to save the ~$10 a new capacitor will cost. I'll repeat what I recommended in my earlier post (read above for details):

[1] with power off confirm fan will spin freely (if it doesn't you likely need a new motor)
[2] with power on, right after compressor starts manually spin fan (carefully) to see if it starts (if it does, you likely only need a new start capacitor).
[3] with power off, open unit and get specs on capacitor and model number of fan. Price motor on internet/eBay and locally, and if you do need a motor also order a new capacitor (some replacement motors will come with a capacitor).
[4] after this easy and cheap (under $125) repair, if it still doesn't run call in the repairman and open your wallet

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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by mancich » Sun Jun 25, 2017 12:43 pm

Thanks again everyone!

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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by blaugranamd » Sun Jun 25, 2017 12:52 pm

Perfect example of bad capacitor vs good capacitor. Notice the bulging of the top under the connectors

Image
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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by FrugalInvestor » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:00 pm

If the capacitor isn't obviously bad it can be easily checked with a multi-meter. Look on Youtube for instructions and don't forget to cut power to the unit and discharge the capacitor by shorting across the terminals before messing with it! Capacitors store energy and you don't want to be the object to absorb it.
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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by Spirit Rider » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:40 pm

I will strongly repeat what I said earlier. Do not go on an easter egg hunt. You do not know it is the start/run capacitor. You do not know it is a fan motor.

As has already been said, do NOT swap capacitors unless they are the exact same specification. Given that they are decades apart in age, maybe different cooling capacities, and maybe even different manufacturers , it is very possible the capacitors are different specifications.

Quite frankly, if you are not going to follow rudimentary troubleshooting procedures, you should not be DIY.

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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by rhornback » Sun Jun 25, 2017 1:58 pm

Teague wrote:
WildBill wrote: ...Be careful - if the capacitor is working it will be charged and careless tinkering will discharge it, with potentially unfortunate results for adjacent electronic circuitry and humans.
...
Very important point above, and just to emphasize, if the capacitor is working at all, even not well enough to make your unit work, it will store a charge for some period of time.
I am a major do it yourself-er. But 3 items I do not feel comfortable doing

1. Capacitors
2. Garage springs
3. Roofs

I have seen where you can 'safely' discharge capacitors with a screw driver with a rubber handle. And then I would wear a rubber glove. But still.

I have reached the level of wealth (and maybe age) that some stuff are not worth it to me.

BIGal
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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by BIGal » Sun Jun 25, 2017 2:40 pm

rhornback wrote:
Teague wrote:
WildBill wrote: ...Be careful - if the capacitor is working it will be charged and careless tinkering will discharge it, with potentially unfortunate results for adjacent electronic circuitry and humans.
...
Very important point above, and just to emphasize, if the capacitor is working at all, even not well enough to make your unit work, it will store a charge for some period of time.
I am a major do it yourself-er. But 3 items I do not feel comfortable doing

1. Capacitors
2. Garage springs
3. Roofs

I have seen where you can 'safely' discharge capacitors with a screw driver with a rubber handle. And then I would wear a rubber glove. But still.

I have reached the level of wealth (and maybe age) that some stuff are not worth it to me.

I second this list and may add a few more....what these all have in common...not only can they hurt...they can kill....
Maybe replacement is worth considering unless you have intentions of moving in the near future...then I would probably hire a professional to diagnose and repair.

Sometime it just isn't worth the risk...I've found that age helps get to this conclusion.

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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by neilpilot » Sun Jun 25, 2017 3:05 pm

rhornback wrote:
I am a major do it yourself-er. But 3 items I do not feel comfortable doing

1. Capacitors
2. Garage springs
3. Roofs

I have seen where you can 'safely' discharge capacitors with a screw driver with a rubber handle. And then I would wear a rubber glove. But still.

I have reached the level of wealth (and maybe age) that some stuff are not worth it to me.
While I totally agree with items #2 (only on torsion spring doors, though) and #3, I'd like to see an example where a capacitor discharge in the magnitude used on home AC starters has actually caused significant injury. Maybe for someone with a pacemaker.

Discharging a 120 V capacitor through your finger is very unlikely to cause injury beyond, at worse, a small burn mark. Discharging it through the body carries a greater risk, but realistically, you will probably be startled but otherwise fine.

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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by WildBill » Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:58 pm

neilpilot wrote:
rhornback wrote:
I am a major do it yourself-er. But 3 items I do not feel comfortable doing

1. Capacitors
2. Garage springs
3. Roofs

I have seen where you can 'safely' discharge capacitors with a screw driver with a rubber handle. And then I would wear a rubber glove. But still.

I have reached the level of wealth (and maybe age) that some stuff are not worth it to me.
While I totally agree with items #2 (only on torsion spring doors, though) and #3, I'd like to see an example where a capacitor discharge in the magnitude used on home AC starters has actually caused significant injury. Maybe for someone with a pacemaker.

Discharging a 120 V capacitor through your finger is very unlikely to cause injury beyond, at worse, a small burn mark. Discharging it through the body carries a greater risk, but realistically, you will probably be startled but otherwise fine.

That is true,although getting burned while troubleshooting is certainly not recommended. However you have great potential to damage electronic components on adjacent circuit boards in the unit. Then your troubleshooting just got more complicated by an order of magnitude. :oops: "When that capacitor arced I wonder if it shorted out the ..., or if it is this.. or that? "

Then somebody will come along recommending swapping circuit boards between incompatible units....

HVAC systems do not respond well to inexperienced tinkering. :twisted:

Happy troubleshooting
"Through chances various, through all vicissitudes, we make our way." Virgil, The Aeneid

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Re: Worth it to attemp repair on A/C condenser?

Post by neilpilot » Sun Jun 25, 2017 10:07 pm

WildBill wrote:

That is true,although getting burned while troubleshooting is certainly not recommended. However you have great potential to damage electronic components on adjacent circuit boards in the unit.

HVAC systems do not respond well to inexperienced tinkering. :twisted:

Happy troubleshooting
As an inexperienced tinkerer, guess I've been lucky since I was able to easily repair 2 of my 3 units in prior years by installing new condenser fan motors and start condensers. The OP was asking for advice, and I was simply explaining how an easy (even for me) and low cost repair might get his outside unit running. I would think, if the OP was considering replacing his 22 YO unit anyway, there's little to loose since if he were to "damage electronic components" on the old unit (really far fetched, in my opinion), it's a non-event if he's already on the verge of replacing the unit.

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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by mancich » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:22 am

As an update, it was very hot and humid here yesterday, and DW didn't want to wait until the new part arrived from Amazon, especially since we're leaving for vacation soon and have a very hectic few weeks coming up in general; not a lot of time to tinker. She also didn't have quite the confidence level in my DIY skills as I do :)

So I called our local company we've been using for years, and they came right out. Sure enough, it was the capacitor, and the top of the capacitor was indeed "swollen". It took the technician about 10 minutes to perform the the repair, and it truly was as easy as I saw it on YouTube. He showed me the old capacitor, and I quietly looked up the model on Amazon. $15.10. They charged me $130. But, it was a Sunday and they had to make a service call, so I get it. And now ole Betsy is working fine again. If I get another year or more out of it (or could be longer, who knows), then I'm fine deferring the several thousand dollar outlay :sharebeer

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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by blueman457 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 4:48 am

Sometimes happy wife --> happy life.

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queso
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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by queso » Mon Jun 26, 2017 8:28 am

+1 on all the capacitor posts. The symptoms you are describing sound exactly like a capacitor failure. I bought a bag of resistors on Amazon and made a capacitor discharger out of those and some spare wire and alligator clips. Total cost about $8. You could also use the big screwdriver across the terminals method, but I'm chicken. :happy I keep an Amrad Turbo 200 in the garage since it can stand in for either of my A/C units as long as you wire it correctly.

http://www.americanradionic.com/products/turbo-200/

EDIT: sorry, just read the rest of the thread and saw that you had it fixed.

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Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by random_walker_77 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:09 am

mancich wrote:As an update, it was very hot and humid here yesterday, and DW didn't want to wait until the new part arrived from Amazon, especially since we're leaving for vacation soon and have a very hectic few weeks coming up in general; not a lot of time to tinker. She also didn't have quite the confidence level in my DIY skills as I do :)

So I called our local company we've been using for years, and they came right out. Sure enough, it was the capacitor, and the top of the capacitor was indeed "swollen". It took the technician about 10 minutes to perform the the repair, and it truly was as easy as I saw it on YouTube. He showed me the old capacitor, and I quietly looked up the model on Amazon. $15.10. They charged me $130. But, it was a Sunday and they had to make a service call, so I get it. And now ole Betsy is working fine again. If I get another year or more out of it (or could be longer, who knows), then I'm fine deferring the several thousand dollar outlay :sharebeer
Consider yourself lucky that it was only $130. The first time this happened to me, I got charged $200 for a bad capacitor. After that, I stocked spares for both units. As a EE and diy'er, I'm ok w/ light electrical work. With the parts on hand, subsequent bad caps were fixed in under 20min, which sure beats waiting for a tech. That said, I'd reiterate all the cautions above: if you don't know what you're doing, call out a pro as the 300+ volts on a capacitor is potentially lethal.

Heat accelerates capacitor lifetimes, and in the texas heat, capacitors are very much consumable parts.

random_walker_77
Posts: 640
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 8:49 pm

Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by random_walker_77 » Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:13 am

queso wrote:+1 on all the capacitor posts. The symptoms you are describing sound exactly like a capacitor failure. I bought a bag of resistors on Amazon and made a capacitor discharger out of those and some spare wire and alligator clips. Total cost about $8. You could also use the big screwdriver across the terminals method, but I'm chicken. :happy I keep an Amrad Turbo 200 in the garage since it can stand in for either of my A/C units as long as you wire it correctly.

http://www.americanradionic.com/products/turbo-200/

EDIT: sorry, just read the rest of the thread and saw that you had it fixed.
Individual resistors aren't rated to discharge much power, and it's a pain to wire up a bunch of them. For anyone else, your best bet is to use an incandescent lightbulb. If you've got an old lamp, just cut the plug off the cord, and strip the wire ends...

Spirit Rider
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Joined: Fri Mar 02, 2007 2:39 pm

Re: Worth it to attempt repair on A/C condenser?

Post by Spirit Rider » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:41 am

random_walker_77 wrote:Consider yourself lucky that it was only $130. The first time this happened to me, I got charged $200 for a bad capacitor. After that, I stocked spares for both units...

Heat accelerates capacitor lifetimes, and in the texas heat, capacitors are very much consumable parts.
I would add that If you are a competent DIY, you should also get yourself a spare (full disclosure: I own stock in capacitor manufacturers, in index funds of course). Texas or comparable heat may change the when, but not the likely if it will need to be replaced in the A/C condenser's lifetime. Is it possible that the capacitor will never fail? Sure, but $10 - $15 is small insurance for the likely failure.

Like many other products, the capacitor is most likely to fail when stressed on that very hot and humid day. It is nice to be up and running again in less than a hour.

P.S. HVAC contractors seem to be the most prickly of all the trades about DIY and they are not happy when their suppliers sell to the public. Try going to an HVAC forum as a DIY and ask for advice. You would think you were stealing their first-born.

So many suppliers might have a "policy" on not selling to the public, but many of them will sell parts such as capacitors, contactors, fan motors, etc.. to the general public. Sometimes a little persuasion is required, like "I can just buy this off of Ebay, Amazon, etc... works.

When you are buying a spare and you have the time, sure go to Amazon or Ebay. However, for the next time/person if your A/C fails and your need a part now, go to a local supplier.

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