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Home air conditioner will not cool – outdoor unit (condenser) not running

Dec 12, 17 • News3 Comments

It is a big deal when the air conditioning goes out on a hot summer day, but there is no need to wait for help to come to you.  Many air conditioning malfunctions are not difficult to identify and repair.  The following test procedure will help you identify if the problem with your outdoor unit is the fan motor, the capacitor, or the contactor.

Air conditioner motor

Troubleshooting the “outdoor air conditioner unit not running” starts with some easy commonsense steps:

  • Make certain the thermostat is set to cool and the indoor unit is running (blowing air out the room air vents).
  • Listen to the outdoor unit for the sound of the compressor running.
    • If you hear the compressor running go to “section A” below. Note, compressors can run quietly.
    • If you cannot hear the compressor running go to “section B” below.

Scenario A:

You can hear the a/c compressor running and the fan motor is not turning.  Because the compressor is running you know there is 220 volts power to the outdoor unit and you know the contactor is doing its job of delivering that 220 volts to the compressor and to the motor.  The malfunction will be a bad capacitor and/or a bad motor. Capacitors can be tested with multi-meters that have the ability to read microfarads or you can take your capacitor (and your motor) to your nearest U-FIX-IT store for a free bench test.  If the capacitor tests good then your motor is bad.

Caution – Capacitors can store an electric charge (like a battery).  The shock hazard is non-lethal, but it is no fun.   Check the 220-volt power is off and discharge the capacitor by shorting between capacitor terminals (with an insulated screwdriver) before removing the wires from the terminals.

 

Interesting facts

  1. A capacitor connected to both the compressor and the motor can fail on just the motor side or just the compressor side.
  2. Bad a/c fan motors can sometimes be started by “spinning” the fan blade with a stick – it is still a bad motor.
  3. A capacitor that is “swollen” (a convex shape) on the side under the terminals is a bad capacitor.
  4. A dual capacitor powers both the compressor (HERM terminal) and the fan motor (FAN terminal). The third terminal is the common (C terminal).

air conditioner contactor

Scenario B:

You cannot hear the a/c compressor running and the fan motor is not turning.  Your next troubleshooting step will be checking the 220-volt power because it is highly unlikely both the compressor and the fan motor would fail at the same time.  Failure of the contactor (see picture) is the electro-mechanical device that most often produces this symptom. This symptom can also be produced by a bad capacitor.  You can prove the contactor or the capacitor is the problem by using a multi-meter or you can take your contactor to your nearest U-FIX-IT store for a free bench test.

Testing the contactor on air conditioner outdoor unit

Using a multimeter, verify there are 220 volts going into the contactor, but zero volts coming out of the contactor (to the motor and compressor).

Check for 24 volts across the coil terminals.

The contactor is bad if multi-meter reads 220 volts going in, zero volts coming out, and 24 volts across the coil terminals.

 

Repair Tip: Before removing the wires from the contactor be certain power is turned off in two places.  Electrical power should be turned off at the outdoor unit and the indoor furnace. The 24 volts controlling the contactor originates at the furnace.  An accidental touching of the two wires together will burn up the transformer.

air conditioner contactor

Testing the capacitor on the air conditioner outdoor unit

Visually inspect the capacitor for a bulging top below the terminals.  It is likely the capacitor is bad if the terminal end is not flat.

A multimeter can be used to check for continuity between the terminals.  A bad capacitor that is preventing both the motor and the compressor from starting will not have any continuity between the terminals.  Note: a functioning capacitor will show a surge in the resistance and then return to zero (multimeter set to read resistance).  Switch placement of the multimeter probes on the capacitor terminals and the “surge in resistance and return to zero will happen again. Some multimeter can read the microfarad rating of the capacitor. Replace the capacitor if it reads less than the rated mfd printed on the capacitor.  Slightly higher is OK.

air conditioner capacitor

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Two “not so obvious” things to check that can stop all waterflow in your refrigerator.

Jun 14, 17 • News4 Comments

Here are two easy things to check when your refrigerator has both malfunctions of no water and no ice. These fixes aren’t to the “broken parts” that we usually look for in the troubleshooting process. They are the icemaker supply line burst valve and the water filter.  Either one of these items can stop all flow of water in the refrigerator without being “broken.”  Other items can give these symptoms too, but these are quick and easy to check.

20170606 cropped anti flood valve

Icemaker Supply Line Burst Valve

The burst valve is an add-on item that may have been installed by a plumber or a refrigerator installer in the water line between the refrigerator and water shut off valve.  Not every refrigerator installation will have one. The purpose of the burst valve is to stop the water flow in the event the water line bursts and begins to flood the house.

The burst valve will also stop the flow of water if the water is turned on too quickly at the shutoff valve.  Some homeowners have inadvertently activated their burst valve when they shut the water off to change their water filter and then failed to open the shutoff valve slowly.

Resetting the Icemaker Supply Line Burst Valve

  1. Turn off the water at shutoff valve.
  2. Disconnect burst valve from shut off valve. This relieves the pressure.
  3. Reconnect the burst valve.
  4. Slowly turn on shut off valve.
  5. Test for water flow at water dispenser on door.

Filters assorted

Refrigerator Water Filter

Most refrigerator manufacturers (Whirlpool, GE, Hotpoint, Frigidaire, Electrolux, LG, Samsung, KitchenAid, etc..) offer refrigerators with built-in water filters.  There comes a point where water filters can stop up completely and cut off the water supply.  Replacing the filter will eliminate it as a possible cause of the stoppage.

There you have it. Check these two “not so obvious” items before beginning systematic troubleshooting for no water flow in your refrigerator.

Air conditioner not cooling – outdoor unit not running

Jul 26, 14 • DIY Tips, News546 Comments

It is a big deal when the air conditioning goes out on a hot summer day, but there is no need to wait for help to come to you.  Many air conditioning malfunctions are not difficult to identify and repair.  The following test procedure will help you identify if the problem with your outdoor unit is the fan motor, the capacitor, or the contactor.

Condenser-Fan-Motor

Troubleshooting the “outdoor air conditioner unit not running” starts with some easy commonsense steps:

  1. Make certain the thermostat is set to cool and the indoor unit is running (blowing air out the room air vents).
  2. Listen to the outdoor unit for the sound of the compressor running.
  3. If you hear the compressor running go to “section A” below. Note, compressors can run quietly.
  4. If you cannot hear the compressor running go to “section B” below.

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Save time, save money – U-FIX-IT

Sep 22, 13 • NewsNo Comments

Save time save money ufixitHow often have you lost three hours or more of your time waiting for a technician and then watch the repair happen in less than 30 minutes?  U-FIX-IT can help you save time and money!

At U-FIX-IT we are all about helping you diagnose your appliance correctly and then providing the tech tips necessary to help your repair go smoothly and quickly.  You can choose when you work on your appliance.  No need to stand around waiting for the technician who will be there between noon and 4 o’clock.  But wait, there’s more!  You will not have to pay the labor charge or the trip charge.  Many customers report saving from 50% to 75% of the cost of the service call.  Occasionally we save 100% of the service call.  There are some repairs that can be accomplished with no parts.  These repairs are few and far between, but we love it when that happens.  It is fun to win! Jim Plummer