Go armed with the following information!” -Greg Guthrie Vice-President
Condenser Fan Motor-These normally go bad in the hottest part of the year, and when you most need them. A motor has bearings in it (some that can be lubricated, most that can’t) that over time and under stress will fail. As the bearings lose their ability to move freely they begin to generate more and more heat. This can create issues with the motor windings and/or electrical components of the motor. A quick way to check if the motor bearings are operating properly is to disconnect power at the service disconnect, and using a screwdriver or butter knife, see if the condensers’ fan blades spin freely. If not it is time for a new condenser fan motor.
Capacitors- Like condenser motors these tend to go bad at the worst possible times. They have a mF tag on them that denotes what they are rated for. A technician will suggest that you replace this part (even if your system is not noticeably acting up) if he gets a reading from his meter that is 10% less than the rating on the capacitor. He is doing this to save you money, because he knows that the capacitor is on its way to failure, and he doesn’t want you to incur any additional fees in a guaranteed callback. There is also the fact that a capacitor which isn’t performing at its rated levels creates stress on the motor it is assisting, which can also cause a more expensive bill down the road when the motor goes bad.
Compressor Failure- No one wants to hear “You’ve got a bad compressor.” This always ends up in a bill that almost no one is prepared for. Compressors also tend to go out when we need them the most. As compressors heat up under stress (usually during the hottest part of the year) the copper windings that are responsible for making the motor spin, melt away a protective coating that separates one copper strand from another. This causes the copper windings to touch each other or other metals and the motor to “short out” or”ground out”. For most residential systems this means complete compressor or condenser replacement.
Low Refrigerant- Refrigerant doesn’t go bad, and in a sealed system, it will never run low. If a technician tells you that your system is low on refrigerant, this always means a leak somewhere in the system. This always means you will eventually be low on refrigerant again, and that you will always have to call them out again to refill your system unless the leak is repaired. A system can develop a leak from a copper line vibrating against another object, damage to the condenser coils from a lawnmower kicking debris at it, or as was the case with me, your kids dropping rocks into the condenser while the fan is rotating. However it happened, the leak should always be repaired.
Thermostat problems- some of these problems can be created by:
- A painter who removes the thermostat to paint behind it and loosens or breaks the connection to the thermostat
- A reset button that has to be pushed by the homeowner after the batteries have been replaced
- Design issues such as being located in the wrong place in a house, or too close to a supply register or heat source, causing short cycling.
- A Heat Limit Switch going bad can be caused by poor airflow across your heat exchanger due to a clogged air filter or closed/blocked vents in your home. Over time the limit switch gets worn out and will begin to stick.
- A proving switch getting debris lodged in its sensing tube
- A Hot Surface Igniter getting worn out prematurely due to furnace short cycling. They can also fail if something like drywall dust, insulation or other contaminants collect on them.