The contactor (relay) and start/run capacitor(s) (see illustration below) fail most often and are inexpensive. So it’s a safe bet to buy and install those parts right away, especially if your air conditioning service unit is older than five years. The condenser fan motor can also fail, but it runs about $150 — hold off buying that unless you’re sure that’s the culprit.
AC units and thermostats have built-in delay features when they’re shut down and then repowered. The delay can be as long as 10 minutes. And, if you’ve subscribed to an energy-saving device from your local power utility, the unit can take even longer to reset. If you’ve installed the parts shown and reinstalled the disconnect block, repowered the circuit breaker, turned on the switch at the furnace, moved the thermostat to AC mode and lowered the temperature below the indoor temperature, and the unit doesn’t fire up after 30 minutes, it’s time to call a pro.
Should you need to replace an air conditioning unit, Abacus Plumbing recommends Lennox brand of air conditioning and heating systems. Lennox systems offer the highest level of home comfort at the lowest possible cost of operation. Additionally, these systems are praised by consumer publications and meet or exceed all government standards for efficiency. Learn more about installation »
This job involves removing the access panel, loosening a couple of bolts that hold the blower motor at the proper tension, and adjusting its distance or realigning the belt. In many cases, it’s a good idea to remove the belt and buy a replacement at a home center. Last, when reinstalling the belt, be careful not to over-tighten it; this can wear out the motor bearings.
R22 (also known as HCFC-22) has a global warming potential about 1,800 times higher than CO2. It was phased out for use in new equipment by 2010, and is to be completely discontinued by 2020. Although these gasses can be recycled when air conditioning units are disposed of, uncontrolled dumping and leaking can release gas directly into the atmosphere.
The first air conditioners and refrigerators employed toxic or flammable gases, such as ammonia, methyl chloride, or propane, that could result in fatal accidents when they leaked. Thomas Midgley, Jr. created the first non-flammable, non-toxic chlorofluorocarbon gas, Freon, in 1928. The name is a trademark name owned by DuPont for any chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC), or hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant. The refrigerant names include a number indicating the molecular composition (e.g., R-11, R-12, R-22, R-134A). The blend most used in direct-expansion home and building comfort cooling is an HCFC known as chlorodifluoromethane (R-22).
Replacing a capacitor is easy. Just take a photo of the wires before disconnecting anything (you may need a reference later on). Then discharge the stored energy in the old capacitor (Photo 4). Use needle-nose pliers to pluck one wire at a time from the old capacitor and snap it onto the corresponding tab of the new capacitor. The female crimp connectors should snap tightly onto the capacitor tabs. Wiggle each connector to see if it’s tight. If it’s not, remove the connector and bend the rounded edges of it so it makes a tighter fit on the tab. When you’ve swapped all the wires, secure the new capacitor (Photo 5).