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Old 07-05-2012, 04:47 AM   #1
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


I just woke up to notice my AC was blowing non cooled air. The compressor was running for who knows how long before I noticed. My question is could the unit have had some issue because it was on for too long and shutting it off for a while might fix it?

My house was built in 08 and the AC was low on refrigerant when we first tried it in 09. They refilled it and then came out in 2010 when we had the same issue. I believe it was at this point that they located a leak in the coil and tried to tighten a fitting. They then put one of those sealers in the system because it was still leaking.

My wife is seven months pregnant and we're in the middle of a nice heat wave in the north east so any suggestions would be appreciated. Did the sealer mess up the system or could it just have leaked out over might? It cooled 100% last might so I thought this would be a gradual thing. The copper lines weren't hot or cold and nothing was frozen.

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Old 07-05-2012, 05:50 AM   #2
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


I opened up the air handler and don't see any obvious signs of ice. Also checked the outside unit and nothing looks out of the ordinary.

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Old 07-05-2012, 05:51 AM   #3
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


Does the blower motor inside of your house is running?
Does the outside Fan/compressor motor at the condenser is running? Make sure both is running....you may need to disconnect the fan motor to hear the compressor running.....you have to know what you're doing....(High Voltage)

If yes in all question you need someone to hook up the gauges to check the pressures
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Old 07-05-2012, 05:52 AM   #4
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


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Originally Posted by mikegp View Post
I opened up the air handler and don't see any obvious signs of ice. Also checked the outside unit and nothing looks out of the ordinary.

Looks like the compressor is not running....
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:11 AM   #5
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


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Looks like the compressor is not running....
The compressor fan runs, but is not shooting out hot air.

Last edited by mikegp; 07-05-2012 at 06:17 AM.
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:12 AM   #6
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


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Did the sealer mess up the system or could it just have leaked out over might?
I've never used the sealer, and I've heard horror stories about it (clogged evaps, locked compressors, etc). IMO the contractor should have actually found the leak and fixed it, not dumped "stop leak" in the system.

It sounds like your compressor isn't running. Could be any number of things, from a bad capacitor to a bad compressor. You can check the cap to see if it's bluging - turn the high voltage power OFF at the outdoor unit, open the panel and check to see if your capacitor is bluging. The capacitor is a round cylinder, normally silver in color, with several wires connected to it. If the top of it is bulging out, head over to a local HVAC supply house and pick up another one (they'll need the MFD rating, which is generally something like 45 + 5 @ 370v - just write down all the info on the cap tag).

If it's not the cap, then you'll need to get someone out to diagnose the trouble. Personally I'd stay away from the company that dumped "sealer" in the system, but that's your call.
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:24 AM   #7
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


So just because the fan is spinning on the outside unit does not mean that the compressor is working, correct? I'm hoping it's something small that I can replace myself.

What else could go bad in a 5 or 6 hour span? Can the short time span rule out a leak?
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:31 AM   #8
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


One other thing. While testing out the AC I noticed that the lights in the house would faintly dim every few minutes for just a second. Does that mean anything? It could be the neighbors unit kicking on for all I know, but just a thought.
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:45 AM   #9
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


Yes, the outdoor fan (the "condenser fan") can be working even if the compressor is not. Bad capacitors often cause this condition - check it out first and you might be able to save yourself some money. As always, be sure to remove power from the outdoor unit, and check it with a quality meter to verify before working on it.
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While testing out the AC I noticed that the lights in the house would faintly dim every few minutes for just a second
That generally means the compressor is not starting. Don't continue to try this, since you can burn out the compressor. A bad cap could certainly cause this as well, although it could be other things.

See this below for an image of a "bulging cap":
http://www.ronstultz.com/knowledge/D...%20Running.htm
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:10 AM   #10
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


Ok, thanks alot. I'll check it out in a little bit and see what I find. Really appreciate the help.
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:51 AM   #11
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


I opened up the unit and the capacitor doesn't appear to be bulging, but the top is rusty. I listened to my other unit kicking on and it sounds different than this one. So I want to say the compressor is not kicking on. Any other advice? I'm going to go look for my voltmeter and see if it's good for 240.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:07 AM   #12
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


Even with a bad hermetic side of a cap the compressor can try to start. It, the compressor, will buzz for a second and then go quiet. Not always but a lot of the time.

You'd need a meter that reads microfarads to be able to test the capacitor. 240 volts should be present across the two poles of the contactor.

Capacitors aren't too expensive. If you have 240 volts at the contactor and can not test for microfarads, turn the breaker to the condenser off, make a diagram of all wiring of the capacitor such as color wire to which terminal it's connected to and even better would be to take a few clear pictures of the cap's wiring, remove the capacitor and take it with you to Grainger. Get an identical new one. Numbers only have to be identical. Round to oval or vice versa matters not at all.

Maybe $30-ish..?
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:43 AM   #13
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


I took the voltmeter to my other working unit and checked it while running and all of the leads on the capacitor were showing power. One of the ones on the bad unit wasn't showing anything. So that's conclusive that it's definitely the capacitor, correct?
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:53 AM   #14
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


Not if you didnt check incoming 240 volts at contactor.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:49 AM   #15
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Central air stopped cooling overnight. Can it be temporary?


Can you be more specific? I'm new to this stuff. Everything I touched on the cap showed 240 except one lead. I went to my good unit and this one and everything was the same except that one lead.

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