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Old 05-08-2012, 11:02 PM   #1
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Capacitor versus Compressor


We bought a house in September, the a/c has worked amazingly. Yesterday it just went kaput. We had someone come out today and he said we needed a new compressor and he estimated it would cost 1500-2000 dollars. The house was built in 2005 and was a foreclosure, so I don't know anything about the unit beyond that it is a Carrier brand.

I talked to a friend of my dad's, who retired from the HVAC business 12 years ago recommended getting another estimate and having them verify it wasn't possibly a capacitor problem. So I've been researching how to tell if it's the capacitor or the compressor.

The man who came out said my "numbers" were "blue to black 2.4, black to yellow 1.4, and blue to yellow 3.5. He said the two smaller numbers should equal the higher number, and since it didn't he could tell the compressor isn't working. My dad's friend said that if all the numbers are low, the compressor is shorted and needs to be replaced, but if two are higher, then it's likely the capacitor. Can anyone help me make sense of these numbers?

If it's the capacitor, my husband said he could take some time and try to do it himself... and quite frankly, I don't have $2000 to spend on an a/c (although I will have to find it- since we live in hot hot Texas).

Also, does anyone know the price range on a new compressor, or perhaps even a whole new unit for a 1600 sq ft home?

Help!


Last edited by heidabear; 05-08-2012 at 11:03 PM. Reason: update
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:23 PM   #2
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Capacitor versus Compressor


Most likely the compressor is good if any and all of the windings are ohming out regarldess of numbers. They might be weak but not bad completely. If any of the windings show infinity or OL on the meter while being ohmed out then that is referred to as an open winding which also would mean the compressor is shot but not because it's grounded but because the windings are broken and not allowing electrical continuity, open.

The only real way to know if the compressor is grounded is first the tell tale sign, the breaker for the unit trips. Secondly, you test for continuity from any individual winding/terminal to ground. If there is continuity to ground than the compressor is grounded meaning the insulation on the inside which keeps the copper windings of the compressor seperate from the casing has a hole in it and the electricity is thus touching the casing or is grounded. This would trip the breaker.

You test the cap with a multi meter that tests microfarads.


Last edited by Doc Holliday; 05-08-2012 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:49 PM   #3
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Capacitor versus Compressor


Heidabear,

Just like Doc said. Unfortunately, testing the winding in the compressor is not a typical Do it yourself. What I reccommend is your husband replace the dual run capacitor first before spending on a new compressor. Since the unit is in 2005, which makes your unit 7 years old, I am 90% sure that it is a scroll compressor. Scroll compressors are robust, they typically don't just fail especially at that age. Replace the dual run capacitor is pretty simple. There are alot of videos on youtube on how to replace dual run capacitor. Just type in "dual run capacitor for air conditioner". Good luck!
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:17 AM   #4
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Capacitor versus Compressor


With those numbers, I'd change out the capacitor first. A small investment that may save you lots of money.

If when your hubby opens the electric panel, he sees that the cap is swollen , thats a good indication its the cap.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:32 AM   #5
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any terminal to the copper pipe and shows continuity is a short not adding up terminal numbers...how was the contactor burnt arc'd.then burp the freon suction/insulated line smell the freon(burns your nose smelling it)...if the compressor shorted out the freon goes "nuke" and cooks..check that stuff get back
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Old 05-09-2012, 02:17 PM   #6
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Capacitor versus Compressor


Well- replaced the capacitor... turned on the a/c and it went "ka plunk" like it was trying to start. No success. Now to call around for estimates on replacing compressor. Thanks for your help.
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:05 PM   #7
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Call for a diagnostics first and please come back and tell us what the problem was. I'm having a very difficult time believing it's the compressor.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:47 PM   #8
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Capacitor versus Compressor


So we asked around the neighborhood and a man here used to work on HVAC talked my husband through some things to try. He was supposed to come over tonight, but my husband had to go to school and got home so late we opted to have him come over on Friday instead. Luckily it's cool this week.

I'll try to describe the best I can what my husband did. So we replaced the capacitor as I said before, and it didn't turn on. My husband took some voltage readings, he said he wasn't able to read a voltage on the cord, which doesn't make sense because when he pushed the "jumper contact" between the power into the unit and the thermostat(?) the air conditioning started. Once he pushed that button, the unit came on and has been working since. (Although, I haven't turned it off, so who knows if it would come on again.) I'm not sure if any of the makes sense, but that's where we currently are.

So I guess we know now that it's def. not the compressor as we were told. Hopefully we'll know on Friday when this neighbor can come over and look around with my husband.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:51 PM   #9
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Capacitor versus Compressor


progress
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heidabear View Post
So we asked around the neighborhood and a man here used to work on HVAC talked my husband through some things to try. He was supposed to come over tonight, but my husband had to go to school and got home so late we opted to have him come over on Friday instead. Luckily it's cool this week.

I'll try to describe the best I can what my husband did. So we replaced the capacitor as I said before, and it didn't turn on. My husband took some voltage readings, he said he wasn't able to read a voltage on the cord, which doesn't make sense because when he pushed the "jumper contact" between the power into the unit and the thermostat(?) the air conditioning started. Once he pushed that button, the unit came on and has been working since. (Although, I haven't turned it off, so who knows if it would come on again.) I'm not sure if any of the makes sense, but that's where we currently are.

So I guess we know now that it's def. not the compressor as we were told. Hopefully we'll know on Friday when this neighbor can come over and look around with my husband.
You may not have a problem any longer. Do you have a digital thermostat? If you set it to cooling mode and dropped the temperature and expected for the outside unit to come on right away then you may at the moment simply be mistaken, especially if thermostat is set to a very low temp and the system hasn't reached that temp yet to shut off.

What may have happened is you turned the system on to cool at the thermostat and since the condenser didn't immediately turn on your husband pushed in the contactor to bring the condenser on. By then, once he let go of the contactor, the TIME DELAY inside the digital thermostat timed out and the finally called for the unit to come on, by the time he pushed and released the button/contactor.

One possible scenario and again, if you have a digital stat and/or an older condenser with a time delay in it itself.


Anyways, I'm glad to hear this is now simply a minor irritation versus a major and costly headache.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:34 PM   #11
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Heidabear....make sure you remember the company who told you you needed a new compressor and AND WARN THE NEIGHBORS. You either had someone running a scam or someone who shouldn't be in the HVAC business. With the diagnostics available today there is no reason you should have been told you needed a major replacement. I"m glad it worked out for you....the repair will be minimal.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:27 PM   #12
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There we go, we just solved one problem, "MISTAKE DIAGNOSIS". Sorrry heidabear, we don't want you to spend money on a new dual run capacitor. We were just giving you the best ideas/suggestions based on what you described. Since your neighbor is doing HVAC, just wait for him to come over. He's your best source for information. Asking people for help online is like asking what should I do if my heart is beaten too fast. Good luck!

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