If you encounter a non-working air conditioner, the problem can be tracked down to a faulty HVAC condenser. This may not necessarily imply a dead-end for your HVAC unit. More often than not, multiple inexpensive, small, and easily replaceable parts are susceptible to mechanical failure. At other times, the HVAC part may need a simple clean up. The operational failures are usually simple enough to be fixed by an average person. Walkthrough these simple measures that will help you determine what to do when your HVAC condenser breaks down. It will help you decide whether you need the assistance of a certified HVAC technician or not.
What is an HVAC Compressor?
The compressor is a significant component of your HVAC system. It is located inside the condenser, which is the outdoor unit, typically in residential units. True to its name, the compressor’s role is to compress the refrigerant fluid to carry the heat out of your house. It heats your previously warmed refrigerant fluid even further and converts its gaseous form into a liquid state.
Though the deliberate addition of heat may seem counterintuitive, it is almost a pressing need to place the refrigerant outside in an elevated, outdoor environment, primarily if you reside in areas where summer days can go up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Going by the basic physics rules, heat flows from hot objects to cold objects, warmer areas to colder areas until a thermal equilibrium is achieved. It is a natural phenomenon experienced at all times. To ensure that the heat of the refrigerant fluid is transferred outside the house efficiently, the compressor needs to be properly functional. It needs to be well-maintained.
Maintaining the Smaller Components
The compressor is made up of multiple small and big components. While it may not be necessary to replace an entire HVAC condenser, it may indeed be necessary to replace small, individual components to get it fixed. Even if one of these HVAC parts malfunctions, simply replacing these tiny components can ensure significant savings.
Run an Electrical Wiring Checkup
If the HVAC condenser does not start, the first thing you need to do is to check if the unit is receiving power. Inspecting the wiring in the HVAC condenser, especially the wiring that connects it to a disconnect switch, helps establish if it isn’t a problem with electric power. If you find a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse, it may put an end to your inspection. It may be time to bring home an electrician who will help you fix the circuit.
Carry Out the Easy Fixes First
To rule out the easiest of tasks, you can, first, begin with the cheapest maintenance and the quickest cleaning tasks. Don’t forget to entirely shut down the unit before you start anything. This can be done by pulling the disconnected block out of the electrical box, which is right next to the condensing unit. If you have a voltage meter and know how to use it, you must check inside the box to ensure that the power is off.
Accumulation of dirt and debris in the condenser, filter or evaporator, can cause the entire condenser to shut down. A clogged filter has the potential to reduce the airflow to such an extent that the evaporator coil freezes and stops functioning completely. But whether or not this is the source of the shutdown, these components must be kept clean as a part of a regular maintenance routine.
A compressor with a clogged condenser coil can result in overheating. In the best of circumstances, the compressor shuts down before it gets completely damaged. In the worst of cases, continuous overheating can impair the compressor to the extent of replacing it.
While cleaning the condenser coils or washing the filters, ensure that the blockages are removed from the supply vents. If the compressor still causes difficulty turning on, it may be necessary to call up an expert HVAC technician. A technician will check out the HVAC parts such as valves, capacitor, terminal connections, and starter relay to determine the next steps if the compressor doesn’t turn on.
With a certain amount of electrical expertise and skill, you may contemplate replacing the capacitors and starter relay on your own before seeking outside help.
If a starter relay or a capacitor replacement does not fix your problem, it is time to seek a professional HVAC technician. Intricate and complicated repairs may involve hazardous chemical leaks and other safety risks that qualified professionals can best handle.
Capacitor and Starter Relays
As per most technicians, about 85% of HVAC repairs involve electrical systems such as the capacitor and starter relays. These components are critical in the supply of power to your compressor. Before examining any other component, they should first be examined as they are the most likely to fail. Also, they are the easiest and cheapest pieces to replace. With basic electrical knowledge, you may think of replacing these parts yourself. But if your HVAC unit is more than five years old, it may be time to replace the entire unit to avoid any other future challenges.
The HVAC capacitor is a short-term power supply responsible for starting and running the blower motor, the outside fan, and the entire compressor. The starter relay transmits power from the capacitors to the HVAC compressor. If the HVAC unit does not turn on, but there is a humming sound from the outdoor unit, it indicates the compressor’s failed attempt to access a non-operating capacitor. In that case, the unit must immediately be turned off. Or else, it might result in the compressor to get overheated and trigger unit-wide damage.
Also, if the unit is left unattended, this can aggravate the situation. A faulty capacitor, if left neglected, can lead you to replace an entire compressor. Only a qualified HVAC technician should carry out a complete compressor replacement. It is an expensive and time-consuming process.
A Dysfunctional HVAC Compressor
Suppose replacing the capacitor, starter relays, or any other component does not bring the HVAC compressor back to its functional self. In that case, there are only two choices: getting a technician on board to replace the compressor or getting the entire air conditioning system replaced altogether. If the repair cost exceeds 50%, it is, perhaps, time to consider a complete replacement of the air conditioning unit.
Fixing the Faulty HVAC Compressor
Who wants to be stuck in the summer heat with a dysfunctional HVAC compressor? No one. As soon as you perceive a problem with the HVAC unit, seek the professional expertise of a certified HVAC technician who will be able to carry out the necessary repairs. However, replacing smaller HVAC parts will prevent you from untimely replacing the compressor or entire condenser itself. That is called preventive maintenance, and it’s your greatest tool against discomfort, stress in the middle of a heatwave, and unplanned expenditures.