Today we’re going to talk about the top three problems that we see with the outdoor unit. Most problems with AC systems are about 90% electrical and these are the top three. Look for a metal can with electrical connections on it, about the size of a small juice can. This is a capacitor . It stores extra electrical energy to help jump-start the compressor motor and a condenser fan motor. The capacitor has a certain range that it needs to be in to function properly. If You Notice Any of These 7 Signs in Your AC It Is a Cry for Repair
The range that it comes from the factory is 40 micro farad’s and 5 micro farad’s. The 40 micro farad’s is the terminal that helps jumpstart the compressor motor. The 5 micro farad is the one that helps jumpstart the condenser fan motor. Yours may vary. I’ve seen some that are 25 and 5 or as much as 60 and 5. Now to check these you need to have a special electric meter that will read that unit of measure. It also has a variance of plus or minus 6. So this could read down as low as 37.6 micro farad’s and still be considered within range. If it drops below that it is considered below factory specs and a failed unit.
So some typical signs to know that the capacitor is not working properly. The top of this can actually bulge out it actually looks like a mushroom. What happens is the inside expands, the contacts are released and you won’t have any readings on these top terminal. The other part is if the terminals are all completely rusted. If the spade connectors on them are arrested they’re not making good contact. That’s another sign that it’s seen better life. The third is just age itsel. These typically last 5 to 7 years of good reliable life. After that we find that they begin to fail. One way you can know you might have a problem with this as if you’re trying to run your AC and the condenser fan motor is not turning on, or the compressor is not turning on and you just have warm air blowing out of your duct. This can have something to do with that.
There is a typical contactor found in most AC system. Some of the higher-end systems have Control board’s that perform this function. This is probably in 85 percent of your outdoor units . Typical life of a unit like this is about five to seven year. When you turn on your thermostat for cooling it activates this switch. This closes and it allows power to come to the unit and power up the compressor and a condenser fan motor. Now this typically can fail in one of two way. When this switch closes it is constantly making contact at these points and there’s a little arc. It’ll actually burn up these points and make pits if it gets bad enough. When this closes it doesn’t actually make contact and thus power can’t get through the switch to power the unit. If that happens the fan and the compressor will not come on and you won’t have air. The other way that it can fail is it can actually weld itself closed. So if this stays closed it is going to constantly power your outdoor unit. It’ll run and run and run and not shut off. The only way to get it to shut off is either by tripping the circuit breaker at the panel or by pulling the outside disconnect. So the last thing that we see that typically goes wrong electrically with a unit is this.
There is a condenser fan motor. This motor when it’s inside your unit is orientated generally and you have fan blades coming off of this. This unit helps expel the heat that’s collected from the home and blows it up out of the unit. So one of the typical problems with this is we look for grease around the shaft on this surface. If we see grease here we know we have a problem. This is supposed to be a sealed unit so no grease should be getting out. If at that point that starts to happen it’s on its way out, it’s closer to the end of its life than it’s beginning. Another issue that we look for is if you have what looks like a big rust mark on the side of the unit. It’s not actually rust it’s actually heat damaged from the unit losing its grease and running too hot. It’s damaging the inside of the motor. The motor still may run but we cannot guarantee for how much longer. The typical reliable life for a unit like this is about 8 to 10 years, depending on usage. What can happen if this stops turning is that it has no way for the condenser to release the heat from your home. All the heat builds up inside your condenser . If left unchecked for too long it could potentially damage the compressor. The best way to check this is just take a peek at your unit to see if the fan blades are rotating. If they are not and you can hear the compressor running then turn off the unit and give us a call. Obviously this is a condensed version of some of the problems with an outside unit. It’s not supposed to be an intensive diagnostic by any means, just an education for you to understand a little bit better how your unit work.