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Old 11-01-2010, 11:59 AM   #1
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Last week was interesting.. HVAC Crash Course..


Hey all!!

As an avid googler, I pride myself to be able to find info on just about anything. I've successfully added breakers to my panel , run lines for my hot tub, added switches and done my own recessed lighting..

One thing I have yet to tackle until last week, was HVAC.. Sometime on Wednesday, we noticed the house was really warm. Upon inspecting the thermostat, we saw the temperature was 82 (set for 76). I inspected the vents and noticed that there was warm air coming out..

The handler was obviously running, though pushing warm air.. I decided to see what I could come up with.. Shutting off the unit at the thermostat, and also at the pull kill switch, I disassembled the air handler. I wanted to see if the unit had frozen and was causing air to divert around the coils..

What I saw when I opened it up was shocking. The fins on the condensor were completely clogged!! With a mix of dog hair and dust (thanks filter) ..

I tried to loosen this up manually, but ended up succeeding with a bbq copper brush> (be very careful to go with the fins and not to press into them, just hook the blockage and pull, the goal wasn't to deep clean here..

Once this was cleared and adequately vacuumed, I decided to turn everything back on. Cool air began pumping and all was right with the world..

Or so I thought.. About 25 minutes later, and reaching 78f on the thermostat, warm air started coming out again. It was getting serious , time to inspect outside.. As soon as I got to the side of the house (midnight btw) I noticed that it wasn't running. I checked the fuse box and everything was fine but for good measure I reset all the breakers.. Still nada..

Figuring the unit was overheating, I decided to relocate the wife to a friends house (she's pregnant, didn't want to add to her stress). I went out the next morning and bought some foaming coil cleaner and thoroughly cleaned out both the inside and outside coils.

Cranked her on again and same thing.. runs for about 20 minutes then nothing..

At this point , at a loss, I called a friend of mine who's a certified HVAC specialist. He came out and immediately figured out it was a faulty AquaGuard safety switch. These are the switches that tell your a/c that it's wet and should shut off. Apparently it had been wired wrong and set to only shut off the outside unit, not the air handler..

We replaced that and everything was fantastic, for about 3 hours.. at which point , the result of all my cleaning efforts came back to haunt me.. We heard a dripping noise and traced it to the handler.. By the time we opened the door there was an all out flood of water coming down through the air filter (brand new , ruined now) and into the 2ndary pan..

Quickly thinking, I pulled the all stop switch, and started to think of what the heck was going on. I assumed incorrectly that the condensor was working so well now with the newly cleaned coils that it was producing too much condensation and the output couldn't handle it. Watching the water level not move for 20 minutes made me think that it was something else..

Not having a shop vac, I decided to be ballsy and spray the water hose into the output of the drain. It was my hope that I could do this quick enough so that the pressure would loosen whatever was blocking the pipe without spraying it all back into the a/c handler..

Much to my surprise a 1/4 second spray into the drain caused about 2 gallons of water to exit the pipe!!!! The clog had been cleared!! All of the stuff I had cleaned out using the foam cleaner must have collected into the pipe and clogged it..

Sorry for the long post, but thought it might be interesting..

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