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Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Troubleshooting Simplified

troubleshooting air condtioners and heat pumps

This page contains a list of Air Conditioning problems and parts that I use to repair the problems. I see these problems most often every summer in our 27 year old HVAC business. Let us help you repair your air conditioner and save money! If you have any questions I will be happy to try and answer them. Please feel free to email us anytime: support@arnoldservice.com

Let us Help You Repair your Air Conditioning System and Save Money!

*Summer Air Conditioning Tips:

1. Always turn your air conditioning system off if there is a threat of a storm. A lightning power surge, or if the power is goes off and on can ruin your air conditioning system. We get lots of repair calls after a storm. These calls could be prevented if people could remember to turn their air conditioners off during a storm.

2. I would like to suggest keeping an extra capacitor on hand. I see lots of capacitors go out during the hot summer months. We sell capacitors on the following page: Please click here to see the capacitors we sell.

  3. If your outdoor air conditioning unit is not coming on at all, then we would suggest that you first check the circuit breaker to make sure the breaker has not tripped. Even if the breaker does not look like it is tripped. Flip the breaker completely off then back on. This is the first question we ask a customer when we receive a service call and the customer says the outside unit is not coming on. “Have you checked your circuit breaker?” Many times we have gone to homes where the breaker was the only problem. This simple circuit breaker check could save you an expensive service call. *When resetting a circuit breaker always only touch the plastic handle of the breaker with one hand. Do not ground yourself out to the breaker box or touch any other metal when resetting the breaker. Always wear shoes. You do not want to be grounded to the box in case the compressor has ground out.   Below are listed the parts that I see go out most often. We even have one device that will help start your compressor if it is locked up called “Super Boost!” Please click here if you are interested in seeing the Compressor Super Boost.

Listed below are many of the air conditioning problems that I see on a daily basis in our heating and air conditioning business here in Louisville, Kentucky. I wanted to list some of the problems and give you links to the parts so you can repair your air conditioner.

Please see the section near the bottom of this page, “What to Check for If Your Air Conditioning System is not Working.” I try to give step-by-step procedures on how to troubleshoot your air conditioning system.

Please click on the link if you would like to see an air conditioning troubleshooting flow chart. This should help you troubleshoot to see what is wrong with your air conditioner. Please click on your browsers back “<” button to return to our site. Please click this link if you would like to download the air conditioner troubleshooting flow chart.

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One of our customers suggested the PDF so you can print it out and take it to your air conditioner for easier troubleshooting. We would love to have your business!

***Please Always, make sure all electrical power is turned off before attempting to do any heating or air conditioning repairs.

We have a real good testing meter for sale on the following page: Click here: UEI G2 Phoenix Pro #DL379 Multi Function Digital Multimeter

Problem #1: Outdoor condensing fan motor has stopped running. This problem could be caused by a bad motor run capacitor. Please see our Run Capacitor Page to purchase a new capacitor. Here is a link to our capacitor page: Please click here to see the capacitors we sell. If you do not have a capacitor tester you may want to take you capacitor to your local appliance parts supplier and see it they will test the capacitor for you. We sell a real good capacitor tester on the following page. Please click here if you are interested in a capacitor testerIf your motor capacitor is not the problem, then more than likely you need a new motor. Is the fan blade tight, stiff or hard to turn? If the fan blade is hard to turn then you probably need a new motor because the motor bearings are messed up. Please click here if you are interested in the condenser fan motors we sell. Please send us your unit’s model number if you would like us to use our online parts programs to look up and see which motor your unit uses. Our email address is: arnoldservice@gmail.com

Problem #2: Air conditioner compressor will not start. When power is applied to the air conditioning outdoor unit the fan starts, but you hear a sound like the compressor is trying to start, “UGGG”…, for about 5 to 10 seconds and then all you hear is the outdoor condenser fan run. The compressor is locked and will not start. What is happening is the compressor is trying to start, but because the compressor motor is locked it tries to start for a few seconds and then because of the high amperage being drawn goes off on internal overload. The internal overload protects the compressor windings from overheating and burning up. I see this many times during the start of the air conditioning season. Some compressors just have a hard time starting after sitting all winter long. Some compressors are locked up so bad that I can not start (unlock) them and I must tell my customer that they need a new compressor or new air conditioning system. Many times I can get the compressor started again without having to buy a new compressor or new air conditioning system by using the device that I sell below. It is called, “Super-Boost.” I keep two or three of these on the truck. They have saved many of my customers from having to buy new air conditioning systems. Below is a description of the “Super Boost”. Please click here if you are interested in seeing the compressor super boost that I recommend.

The Super-Boost could save you from having to purchase a new air conditioning compressor or system!

The Supco, Super-Boost has the following features that make it a life saver when it comes to air conditioning repair:

  • The Supco can save stuck compressor by increasing the compressor’s starting torque by 500%.

  • The Supco, Super-Boost is a solid state relay and hard start capacitor no loose parts or complicated wiring. Just wire it across your run capacitor as shown below:

On a single capacitor connect as in the picture below. On dual capacitor systems just connect between the “C” and “Herm” terminals.

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More Features:

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Supco SPP6 Super Compressor Boost Hard Start Capacitor.


Problem #3: This problem is probably the second most common problem that I see every summer. The problem is a bad compressor or fan run capacitor. The Air conditioner outdoor unit will not come on. Either the outdoor fan does not run, the compressor does not run, or both the fan and the compressor do not run. You checked and reset your breaker and the outdoor unit still does not come on. You can hear a little humming sound, sometimes a “Uggg” inside the unit when power is applied. The “Uggg” is the compressor trying to start. You might hear the low voltage contactor humming. You pull the disconnect and disconnect the power to your outdoor air conditioning unit. Please make sure your electrical power is off before working on any air conditioning equipment.You take the door or cover off your outdoor unit’s control box and find a bad, swollen run capacitor. EPA stopped allowing manufacturers to produce capacitors with cancer causing PCB’s. Since they stopped allowing the use of PCB’s the capacitors now have a shelf life. Many times I see capacitor problems that will not allow the compressor or the fan to come on. Many times you can clearly see that the capacitor is bad because it is swollen or even blown apart with capacitor oil everywhere! Sometimes you will need a special meter to test the microfarad (MFD) or (uf) rating. “MFD” and “uf” mean the same. Some capacitors will have “MFD” on them and some will use “uf”. Most of the time you can tell the capacitor is bad because it is swollen up. Please see the picture below for the comparison between a good and bad dual run capacitor. Capacitors are called “Dual” capacitors because the capacitor helps run both the fan and the compressor and it will have three terminals on top labeled: Herm, Com and Fan. Single capacitors will only have two terminals on top. If you have any questions please feel free to email us at: support@arnoldservice.com

comparison_good_and_bad_round_capacitors

Bad round dual capacitor on left. Good round capacitor on right.

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Bad oval capacitor on the left. Good oval capacitor on right.

Solution: You need to purchase a new capacitor. We have many different types of capacitors listed on our Run Capacitors page. Please click on the following link if you would like to visit our run capacitors page: Please click here to see the capacitors we sell.

We would love to help you out and have your business!

There are so many different types and sizes of capacitors that we have them listed on another page. We will be adding more capacitors as time goes on. Here is a link to our Capacitor Page with an opportunity to purchase Capacitors: Please click here to see the capacitors we sell.


Contactor Problems:

Please Click here to see the contactors we sell.  If you would like to see a You Tube Video on how to change a contactor out then please click on the following link: Please click here to see How to change a contactor.

Problem #4: Air Conditioning outdoor condensing unit or heat pump unit will not shut off. It continues to run no matter what you do. The only way you can get the outdoor unit to shut off is turn off the breaker or pull the outdoor disconnect. Also, sometimes when the contactor fails the outdoor condensing unit will not come on at all. Dirt or insects (I see ants many times) can get in between the contact points while the contactor is off, and cause the air conditioner not to come on at all. If the contact points are pitted and burnt they might now supply enough voltage for the compressor and fan to run. If your contactor has burnt or pitted contacts it is a good idea to replace the contactor. When the contactor is stuck in the “On” position (contacts welded together), Ice will form on the indoor evaporator coil and all the way out to the outdoor unit. I have seen 1 or 2 inches of ice form on the line set and outdoor unit compressor. You will not get hardly any air flow through your duct work when this happens because the evaporator has become a complete block of ice. If this is your problem then your contactor points could be stuck, welded together causing the outdoor unit to run continuously. Many times when ants or insects get between the contactor points the outdoor unit will run (burns the insect out), but because of the uneven wear (arcing) in the contact points the contactor will soon fail. Arcing causes a tremendous heat build up and pitting of the contact points. If you are in an area of the country where insects are prominent in and around air conditions, then I would suggest you blow your contactor out with compressed air or check and make sure you do not have any insects in between the contactor points at the beginning of each cooling season. You might want to keep a spare contactor on hand?

If your contactor looks like the single pole contactor below, with burnt or pitted contacts then you need a new contactor. The picture below is a single pole contactor out of a Rheem, Ruud air conditioner.

burnt contactor

Solution: You need to solve this problem by purchasing a new contactor. We sell contactors on the following page: Please Click here to see the contactors we sell

Contactor’s Purpose: The contactor has a 24 volt relay, when this 24 volt relay is energized from the thermostat, a call for cooling, the contacts on the contactor close, making a high voltage (220-240) connection to your compressor and outdoor fan, causing the outdoor unit to come on. There are several types of contactors that we sell. They are sold on the following page: Please Click here to see the contactors we sell

**Please make sure your electrical power is off before attempting to remove or work on air conditioning equipment. Before changing out a contactor or working on an air conditioner please make sure you pull the outdoor disconnect or indoor breaker that controls the air conditioner. Turn the furnace off or thermostat off so no low voltage is going through the low voltage wiring.


Term-Lok Compressor Terminal Repair Kit Model TLC-3-10:

Problem #5: Compressor will not run. First, you turn off the power to the air conditioning system. Second you remove the compressor terminal cover and find that one or two of the compressor terminals have burned completely off. Yes! that is why the compressor is not running!

Solution: Remove the old burnt terminal/terminals, and use the “Term-Lok” compressor terminal repair kit to replace the burnt terminals and wires.

The “Term-Lok” compressor terminal repair kit is one of my favorite items to have on the truck during the summer time. The “Term-Lok” compressor terminal repair kit has saved many of my customers from having to purchase new compressors or air conditioning systems. I see many, many burnt compressor terminals during the course of the summer. Many contractors will tell their customers, “You need a new compressor or new air conditioning unit.” Most of the time this is not true! All you need to do is use the “Term-Lok” kit to repair the compressor terminals and you are back in business for a long, long time. Before I found out about the “Term Lok” compressor terminal repair kit I would try to solder the terminals on using a soldering gun. I found out the hard way that the solder would not hold but for a short period of time. Before long, I would get a call again, “My air conditioner is not working.” I would go look at the compressor terminals, and there again, one of the terminals or terminal was burnt completely off again. I could not believe it! Since I have started using the “Term-Lok” repair kit, I have not had one call back for burnt compressor terminals! This new Term-Lok compressor terminal repair kit is not cheap, but it is much better than having to get a new compressor or air conditioning system. This compressor terminal kit costs $40.00. I figure the kit is so expensive because of the brass terminal connectors and the way they have permanently connected the #10 gauge wires. What I really like about this kit is that it lasts! No more burnt compressor terminals! The kit is called “Term-Lok” because it actually locks the wires to each compressor terminal. You use a small Allen key wrench to tighten or lock the solid brass terminals to the compressor terminal stubs. There is an Allen screw that can be placed in either the bottom or top of the brass terminal. This makes the installation easy. If there is 1/4 inch left on the compressor terminal studs, then you can use the terminal lock kit to fix your compressor. Be prepared for the hot summer and have a compressor “Term-Lok” terminal repair kit on hand. Please click on this link if you are interested in the Term-Lok compressor terminal repair kit.

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Above is a Close-up of the three brass terminals with Allen wrench and screws.

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Above is a picture of the entire kit. The wires are 36″ long #10 Gauge wire

Term-Lok Compressor Terminal Repair Kit Model TLC-3-10 

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Above is a picture taken of the label:

Below is a picture of the Installation Instructions.

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Please click here if you are interested in the Term-Lok Compressor Terminal Repair Kit Model TLC-3-10 


International Refrigeration Products Low Voltage Universal Transformer #TFM4031:

Problem #6: Nothing works on your heating & air conditioning system. The fan will not blow in the fan “ON” position. The gas burners will not light, the outdoor air conditioning unit will not come on.

Solution: Use a Volt Ohm meter, set the meter to “Volts AC,” to check and see if you are getting between 24-28 volts between your “C” and “R” terminals on your low voltage board, or between “R” the red low voltage thermostat wire and ground. You might have to tape the blower door safety switch, to keep the voltage on so you can perform this test. Turn your power back OFF after completing this test using the Volt meter. Check for fuses on the furnace control board to see if the furnace has a low voltage protection fuse. If the furnace has a fuse pull the fuse out and see if it is blown. If the fuse is blown check all your low voltage wiring to make sure it is not grounding out anywhere. I have seen pinched wires that are stuck between furnace doors, animals that have chewed through wires and just weathered low voltage wiring that has lost its insulation due to the hot sun over the years. Any wires that are touching together can cause the low voltage fuse to blow. The fuse protects the expensive furnace control board from getting burned up because of a short to ground. If the fuse is blown then I would go to the local hardware and purchase 5 to 6 new fuses. If you do not find the problem that is causing the fuse to blow right away then you will need more than one fuse for testing. If your fuse is OK or your furnace does not have a fuse, and you are not getting low voltage between the “C” and “R” terminals then you might need a low voltage transformer. I have seen some of the transformers just go bad. Below I explain the job of a transformer. Please click on the following link if you are interested in seeing the TRM4031 universal transformer.

What is a Low Voltage Transformer? The job of a low voltage transformer is to take 110 volts AC on the primary end, and transform or lower the voltage to 24 volts on the secondary end. That is why on the transformer label, below it has “PRI” 120, 208, 240 and SEC 24V 40VA. The transformer that we sell can be used with multiple voltages either 120 volts, 208 volts or 240 volts. You would hook up the right color coded wire to use the voltage that you have. The color coded voltage wiring directions are on top of the transformer. For example: The white and black wires would be used for 120 volts for most furnaces. The White and Orange wire would be hooked up if you were using the transformer to replace a bad transformer on an outdoor air conditioner or heat pump that uses 240 volts.

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Transformer all

Please click on the following link if you are interested in seeing the TRM4031 universal transformer.


Prevent Your Air Conditioner or Heat Pump from Cycling Off and On too much with a

Delay On Make Timer. Beacon Model TDOM:

This Beacon Delay on make timer replaces the following timers: ICM102B, EAC700, EAC701, TD69, 3310-06, 3239, 32367, IC-310, IC-213, & AC-800.

Problem #7- You might consider purchasing and installing the following device if:

1. You have to reset your air conditioning circuit breaker often.

2. If you have electrical storms where the power is going off and on. I

have many calls after electrical storms. Please always turn your air

conditioner off during a storm.

3. If the power goes off and on often in your home. If the power goes off

and on often in your home then this can ruin a compressor. When your

air conditioner is turned off you should wait at least 3 to 5 minutes

before you turn it back on. If you do not wait the 3 to 5 minutes then

this causes a tremendous strain on the compressor motor because the

motor is trying to start without the pressures being equalized. Please

give your compressor and air conditioning system time for the pressures

to equalize before starting your air conditioner again.

4. If you have children living in your home, renters, or other people who

do not understand that you should wait 3 to 5 minutes before cycling

and air conditioner off and on.

Solution: Purchase a delay on make timer pictured below. You can set this timer to the length of time you want to wait for the air conditioner to come back on from .03 of a second to 10 minutes. What this timer does is delay the amount of time you want your air conditioner to come on when low voltage power is applied to the timer. This low voltage timer is simple to install. *Some of the new thermostats have this delay feature built into them. If you have a thermostat that has this delay feature, then you do not need to purchase the Delay On Make Timer pictured below. If you want to protect your air conditioning system from short cycling and possible compressor damage, then the Delay on Make timer is for you! Please remember to turn off all power when working on air conditioning equipment.

Please click on the following link if you are interested in seeing the TDOM, Time Delay On Make relay.

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Below we have thumbnail pictures with installation instructions and wiring diagram:

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TDOM1

Delay On Make Timer Beacon Model TDOM


Prevent Refrigerant Leaks With A

Box of 10 Model #JB NFT5-4 Quick Seal Schrader Valve Caps:

Please click on the following link if you are interested in the JB Quick Seal Schrader Valve Caps.

schradervalvecaps

EasySeal can save you expensive air conditioning repairs! If you have a leak in your air conditioning system EasySeal can inexpensively repair leaks in your system!

Please click here if you are interested in the EasySeal Air Conditioner Leak repair kit.

Problem #8 Air conditioner is freezing up. You see frost or ice on the suction line (black insulated line) Any areas that are not insulated are covered with ice. You are not getting hardly any air flow out of your registers. Your evaporator coil is iced up completely. Most of the time this is caused by being low on refrigerant charge. There are other causes such as:

1. Dirty air filter or some air flow restriction.

2. Dirty blower

3. Slow or dragging blower motor (might need a new capacitor).

4. Dirty stopped up Evaporator coil (Need to have HVAC tech clean coil)

5. Long Air conditioning run times. Setting thermostat below 72 degrees

with cool outside conditions.

6. A stuck contactor that keeps the outdoor unit running even when the

indoor blower is not running or when the thermostat is calling for

cooling. We sell contactors above.

Most of the time a freeze up condition is caused by a low refrigerant charge. Since the air conditioning system is supposed to be a leak free, sealed system this means you have a leak somewhere. I use the Schrader valve caps sold below to make sure that I do not have a leak in the Schrader valves when I take my manifold gauges off. I install these Schrader caps for insurance, because I have seen leaks in these valves many times. These caps have a rubber seal inside of them and insure a leak proof seal.

Below are some pictures with links to the page where you have an option to purchase:

 

Above, Schrader Caps Installed on an outdoor AC unit.
Above, Schrader Caps Installed on an outdoor AC unit.

Above, Schrader Caps Installed on an outdoor AC unit.

schradervalvecaps

Above Schrader caps in box ready to ship. They come in a box of 10.

 Please click here if you are interested in a Box of 10 Model #JB NFT5-4 Quick Seal Schrader Valve Caps.


More on refrigeration leak detection:

Please click here if you are interested in the EasySeal Air Conditioner Leak repair kit.

I have other leak detection tools such as an alarm type electronic leak detector, $215.00 and a UV black light leak detection system $550.00. I think that finding refrigerant leaks is the hardest job any HVAC technician has to do. With the new EPA rules and regulations it is a must to find the leak and stop it, or I can face a huge fine. First, you visually look for refrigeration oil spots. This is a sure sign of a bad leak. If I can not visually see the leak I use my electronic leak detector, and if that doesn’t work I inject a bottle of florescent leak detection solution into the system let it circulate and try to search for the leak with a black light. The leak with show up bright yellow when the UV light hits it. The UV black light leak detection system needs to be done in low light conditions. Sometimes I ask the customer to come back after dark to find the leak or I crawl under a tarp to block the sun light out. This is really fun when it is 90 plus degrees out! Wow! You talk about hot! It is really cool and rewarding when you see that bright yellow leak shining back at you! You can show the customer exactly where the leak is too, but sometimes you have hidden areas that even the light can not detect. About 90% of the time it is the indoor evaporator coil leaking. It must be poor coil construction, added to the expansion and contraction of the metal during the heating and cooling seasons that cause these coils to leak. I replace on the average about 20 evaporator coils a summer! Some of these coil are only two to three years old. I can’t believe it! It is just poor construction. I would like to recommend that you get a warranty of at least 5 years on your air conditioning system that would include the indoor evaporator coil. Many times the coils are only warranted for one year. Thanks for reading my frustrations with finding refrigerant leaks. I hope that you do not end up with one of those leaking, out of warranty evaporator coils that I see every summer! God bless you and your family.

What to Check for If Your Air Conditioning System is not Working:

1. Check the circuit breaker to make sure the breaker has not tripped. The breaker would probably be a double pole 30, 40 or 50 amp breaker. Even though the breaker looks like it is on I would still flip it all the way to off and back on again just to make sure. Sometimes one leg of a double pole breaker will hold in the other leg and make the breaker appear to look like it is, “ON” when it has actually been tripped.

2. Make sure your thermostat is turned down to a temperature that will allow the air conditioning system to come on. Sorry! I hope I did not insult your intelligence! I want to try to cover everything! I have been on several service calls when not having the thermostat turned down far enough was the only problem. If your thermostat has the little levers on it then it would not hurt to flip the little lever from “OFF” to “COOL”. On several service calls I have seen all that it takes is a flip of this little lever on the thermostat. Sometimes the contacts in the thermostat do not make the connection and flipping the levers will reestablish the connection. I would turn your fan to the “ON” position. Did the fan come on? If the fan did not come on check the switch on the side of your furnace to make sure it has not been turned to “OFF”. Make sure your filter access door and furnace door are secure. Many of the furnaces have a switch activated door for your safety. When the door is not completely on the furnace will not operation. This keeps the furnace from coming on when someone is servicing the blower or filter.

3. If your outdoor unit is running listen to determine if the fan is the only thing running or is the compressor running too?

4. Turn off your electrical power to the outdoor unit by pulling the disconnect switch or turn off the indoor circuit breaker. Take the screws off your air conditioner control access panel. Check with a multi-meter to make sure the power is actually off. Touch the top of the compressor. Is the compressor very hot? If the compressor is hot then the compressor could be out on thermal over-load. You need to wait and let the compressor cool down before you test your system again. Sometimes I use water from a hose and gently let it run over the compressor to cool it down quickly. Sometimes it can take 2 or 3 hours for a compressor to cool down. After it has cooled down reapply power. Did the compressor start? Did the fan start? If the fan did not start with the compressor then this is why the compressor over heated. Check your fan motor and fan run capacitor to make sure the fan blade is free and the capacitor is in good shape. You can check the fan bearings by spinning the blade by hand the blade should continue to spin 3 to 5 seconds after you spin it. If it doesn’t then you probably need a new fan motor. Another reason the compressor over heated could be that the system is low on refrigerant. Is the suction line (the line with the black insulation) cold like a cold coke can right out of the refrigerator after the unit runs for 10 to 15 minutes. If it is not cold, then you need to add some refrigerant. The refrigerant is what keeps the compressor running cool. If the system is low on refrigerant then you do not get the cool gas coming back to keep the compressor running cool. The compressor over heats, and this will eventually melt the windings down in the compressor and contaminant the whole refrigeration system! This is not good. Eventually the compressor will ground out and you will need a new compressor or new system. Please make sure that suction line is cold or you might be low on refrigerant charge. You will need to call a service technician to charge up your system if it is low. Now EPA require that you be licensed and certified to purchase and use refrigerants.

5. Inspect your wiring to make sure that you do not have any burnt connections. Repair the burnt connections if you have some.

6. Inspect the capacitor/capacitors to see if they are swollen looking. If they are swollen purchase a new capacitor from our capacitor page. Click here for Our Capacitors we sell Page.

7. Take the compressor terminal cover off and inspect the terminals on the compressor. Sometimes the compressor terminal cover can be a bear to take off. I use a screw driver to release the metal clip that holds the cover on. Sometimes the cover slides off. Sometimes the terminals unplug from the compressor. If any of the compressor terminals are burnt then you could probably use our Term-Lok compressor terminal repair kit to repair the terminals. Please see Term-Lok compressor terminal repair kit above on this page.

8. Inspect your contactor. Is your contactors points look burnt? You might need to purchase a contactor that we have listed above on this page.

9. When you plug in the disconnect and apply power to your outdoor unit does the fan start and the compressor try to start, but make a “UGGGG” sound. This means the compressor is locked up. The compressor is an electric motor, enclosed in a case, with a piston similar to what you would find in a car. When you hear that “UGGG” sound it is telling you that the piston is locked up. We need to try to unlock the piston. If we can not unlock the piston then you need a new compressor or air conditioning system. You might want to purchase a Super-Boost hard start capacitor. I have used this device to save many a compressor. The Super-Boost is also listed above on this page. If you purchase and hook-up the hard start capacitor and the compressor still will not start then I am afraid you will need a new compressor or system. I say, “System” instead of just outdoor unit because it is recommended that you change both the outdoor unit and the indoor evaporator coil when you install a new system. Manufacturer’s say that it will damage the outdoor unit if you do not change the evaporator coil too.

Best of luck! I hope this has helped you to trouble-shoot and repair your air conditioner! I hope you can get your air conditioner up and running again soon! I admire you for trying to repair your air conditioner yourself. Please be careful and make sure the power is turned off and you do not get cut on those sharp sheet-metal edges. Just take your time and think things out step-by-step.  If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email us and ask. Our email address is: support@arnoldsevice.com God bless you and your family.

Sincerely, Steve Arnold, President,

Arnold’s Service Company, Inc.

26 thoughts on “Air Conditioning and Heat Pump Troubleshooting Simplified

  1. I have a american standard heat pump the outdoor fan want run and the comp want run replace the capacitor noting happen i have 24 volt at the coil the contactor pull in i have 230v going to comp nothing happen it have a circuit board on i think it is board.

    1. Hi William! If your contactor is energized (closed) and you are getting 23o volts to both the compressor and fan motor, and the neither the fan motor or compressor will run then I would think you have a bad fan motor and compressor. I have never seen both go out the same time. Please make sure everything is wired up correctly. Most of the time a control board is not the fault when both the compressor and fan do not work. Please send me your unit’s model number if you want me to look up parts. I hope you can find the problem easily. Steve

  2. Hi Steve, thank you for your wonderful website. I have a York 3 ton air conditioner that runs for days, weeks, months and then all of a sudden the compressor stops working. When I go outside the fan on the condenser is running and the blower is running and obviously it’s blowing hot air in the house. It’s actually starting to do this more often, now. To fix the problem I turn the thermostat off. If I turn the thermostat on too soon the cool down light on the thermostat blinks as if the compressor is turned off and cycle on too fast. I wait a little longer and turn the thermostat back on and the compressor kicks in. They are conditioner will run fine now for days or weeks. I’ve changed out the Dual capacitor. It was starting to go bad . That has not helped the problem. This air conditioner has a start capacitor and relay to boost voltage to the compressor. I’m going to change the start capacitor and relay to the compressor. I’m hoping that the relay or capacitor is bad. The only other thing that I can think of is a bad compressor. I’m hoping not. Do you have any suggestions.

    1. Hi Curt! Thanks for asking this question. Since the compressor runs for weeks and days after you reset the thermostat, then this could not be a compressor problem other than the compressor maybe overheating and going off on thermal over-load. The next time this problem happens I would suggest that you turn the power off to your unit and see it the compressor is hot. If it is real hot on top then you might be low on refrigerant charge and the low refrigerant is not keeping the compressor cool enough causing it to go off on thermal over-load. I do not understand why that resetting the thermostat fixes the problem other than maybe a relay on the thermostat or control board on your outdoor unit is becoming worn where it works sometimes and sometimes it does not work. It seems like if the thermostat was the problem nothing on the outdoor unit would work and you say that the fan is working and the compressor is not working when you have the problem. Please use the AC troubleshooting flow chart to find the problem the next time the problem occurs. We have this chart on the following page: https://arnoldservice.com/air-conditioner-troubleshooting-flow-chart/ We have lots of troubleshooting questions with answers and videos on the following page: https://arnoldservice.com/troubleshooting/ Sorry, but this is one of those problems where you almost have to be there when the problem occurs to troubleshoot and find out where the problem is coming from. Steve

  3. My ac unit will run perfectly fine for weeks at a time and then suddenly the outside in it will shut down but the handler will continue to run. The breaker is NOT being tripped but if I turn breaker off then on unit will start up again and then run fine for days or weeks before it suddenly shuts down again. Any suggestions on problem would be appreciated iated.

    1. Hi Terri! This sounds like it might be a circuit breaker problem or a loose high voltage wire problem. You probably need to call an electrician to do this. You might want to check all wire connections going to the breaker and make sure they are all tight. Many times a breaker will look like it has not tripped, but actually it is tripped. This problem could be caused by a weak breaker where the contacts inside the breaker are arcing. I would suggest touching the outside of the breaker after your air conditioner has run for several hours and see if the breaker is warm. If it is warm then you need a new breaker. Please be careful when working with live electricity. You might want to get an HVAC tech or electrician to check this out. I hope you have a good night! Steve

  4. I have a York 3 ton split unit. Since I have purchased the unit back in 2010 I have had issues with it. The terrible contractor I used was of no help. I am trying to find out if my compressor needs to be replaced. This is the issue. I live in Arizona and when it gets hot the fan will turn on but the compressor does not. At least not for the first 3-5 minutes and then it kick starts and work great. But for the most part the compressor does not turn on when the fan does. When the weather is a little cooler (<95 degrees) I never have that issue with the compressor. Recently I repair company came out and said that the compressor would need to be replaced. My thought on it is that when the compressor works it is great, when its a little cooler it is great. Could there be something else causing this delay of the compressor to turn on. The other possibility I keep reading about is the capacitor going bad. What if the capacitor is fine and not casuing the issue should I replace it just in case? Also, in the past the repair company installed the hard start kit which did not seem to fix the problem. Please let me know if you need more information about the problem and/or the unit. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

    1. Hi Denis! I really do not know exactly why the compressor is delaying on start when it is hot. It must have something to do with the pressure in the system. The pressure in the system as you probably know is much higher when the temperature is high. The key is that the compressor is running fine when the temperature is lower. So I would not think you would need a new compressor. All that I can think of would be a high pressure sensor not allowing the compressor to come on or an internal thermal over-load not allowing the compressor to start until it cools down. This could be caused by an over-charge of refrigerant not allowing the compressor to start until the refrigerant is cooled down by the fan. Too much pressure until the refrigerant is cooled by the fan. You might want to turn the power off to the unit and see if the compressor is hot when this happens. I know that it is very important that you outdoor condensing coil be clean as a whistle when the temperature is 95 or above. Please make sure you have a clean coil. You might want to try and call the compressor manufacturer and see if they have any suggestions. I hope one of our followers will comment and help you out. Thanks so much for asking this great question! Steve

  5. Why would the blower relay keep burning up runs for awhile 4or more hrs

    1. Hi Craig! Most of the time blower relays burn up due to loose wire connections, improper wire connections (wire wrong) or improper voltage. If it is a low voltage relay please make sure the relay has the minimum voltage usually 24 volts. If it is below 24 volts the relay will chatter and burn up quick. I hope you can easily find and solve the problem. Steve Arnold

  6. hi Mr. Arnold,

    my grandmother has a fully self contained Bryant unit. The unit comes on, but doesn’t cool. it is 83°F in the house with the thermostat on 68°F. I don’t think it is froze up because there is water dripping as it normally should. The blades and motor are turning when it is on. can’t see the compressor or lines to see if they are overheating or freezing up because it is a one piece unit on the outside. she has never had this problem. she does keep allergen filters in the vents. I don’t know if that hurts the unit or not. are there any suggestions we could try before calling a repair tech. Thanks and have a blessed Memorial Day Weekend.

    1. Hi Mr. McMillan!
      I hope that you have a blessed Memorial Day as well! Thanks for your blessings and your question! I would not recommend using any filters in the supply lines because this can restrict air flow. It is OK to use the filters in the returns as long as they are not more than a Merv 11 filter rating. Some filters are so thick that they restrict air flow. I would like to suggest that you turn off the power to the unit then take the access panels off to see if the blower wheel, evaporator coil and condenser coils are dirty. See if the compressor is hot or warm on top. Most of the time when units do not cool properly it is because they are low on refrigerant charge and the only way to test is by the feel method or by using gauges. A unit that is low on charge will have a hot compressor. The suction line (larger line) should be cold like a cold coke can right out of the refrigerator if the unit is charged properly. I would also suggest checking the air flow and temperature of the air coming out of the registers. On an 83 degree indoor home you should be getting at 15 to 20 degree difference in the air coming out of the registers. So on an 83 degree indoor home temp you should get 63 to 68 degree air if the unit is working right. If not then you are probably low on charge or might have a dirty coil. Best of luck in finding and fixing the problem. God Bless you and your family today and Always!
      Steve Arnold, https://arnoldservice.com

  7. Hello, I have an Armstrong 3.5 ton unit which has served us well for 16 years. Now when she is fired up it will run for ~25 minutes or so then the fan shuts down. Called repair company, replaced capacitor and said fan was going bad. Replaced fan motor, new capacitor but you guessed it the fan still drops out. FYI, the compressor is still running. I bought a new contactor just because I didn’t want to make another trip.

    1. Hi Don! Sorry to hear that you are having the fan problem with your heat pump. I would like to suggest that when the fan motor cuts out, turn the power off to your unit, then touch the fan motor to see if it is running hot and going off on thermal over-load. If the fan motor is getting real hot, almost too hot to touch then you probably have a bad fan motor or a motor that is too small for your heat pump’s fan blade. Please make sure that the service company that installed the fan blade installed the correct motor and matching capacitor. If the motor is not getting hot and you think the defrost control is cutting the fan motor off then you might need a new defrost control. I hope you can easily find and fix the problem. I hope you have a blessed day. Steve Arnold

  8. Hello my question is my ac is running fine but the furnace came on the other day by it self the air was still working,I called the fire department because I never experienced any thing like that the fire department said thay never saw any thing like that,than the next day I called my ac repair man out two came and could not find any thing that would make the fire statt nothing burned but it was very strange.What do you think .Sin

    1. Hi! If this is a heat pump unit with supplemental electric heat and the heat comes on for no reason then you probably had a stuck sequencer, shorted thermostat wires or a thermostat problem. Most of the time when electric heat sticks on it is caused by a stuck sequencer. I have had customers that had over $500 bills when their sequencers were stuck. We sell sequencers on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/product-category/furnace-parts/electric-furnace-parts/sequencers/ If you have a gas furnace where the heat comes on for now reason then this indicates a possible shorted thermostat wire or a thermostat problem. Best of luck in finding the problem. Steve Arnold

  9. Replaced contactor now Ac only turns on and off with breaker. Maybe I wired something wrong thanks

    1. Hi Thomas! Sorry to hear you are still having problems! One question that I would ask is are the contactor contacts closed with the unit running? If the contactor contacts are open with the unit running then I would say you have it wired wrong. If the contacts are closed (getting 24 to 28 volts AC to the contactor coil) with the thermostat calling for cooling to be OFF then you either have a bad thermostat or a shorted out thermostat wire. If you have the unit wired wrong then there should be a wiring diagram attached to the control panel door of your unit that you can use to check the wiring. Best of luck in finding the problem. Please email me at support@arnoldservice.com in you have any questions. Thanks! Steve Arnold

  10. Hi Arnold, I have a Arcoaire and the breaker was tripping. I replaced the breaker and I inspected the contactor because, it was cracked and the Positive wire was burnt with oxidation. I also replaced both capacitors and now I hear a click from the contactor making electricity with a solid connection but, nothing happens. The indoor fan will come on but, not the out door ac fan or compressor.

    Note* Before I replaced the circuit breaker. It would trip and I would reset it often. Thank goodness I replaced it because, it was running hot and it burnt the back of the breaker switch. 30 amp.

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Dan

    1. Hi Mr. Silva!
      Most of the time when both the fan and compressor will not come on it is caused by (1) bad capacitors (2) improper or no voltage at the contactor. Please make sure you are getting 220 to 245 volts AC on L1 and L2 of your contactor, then with the contactor energized (24 volts at the coil) make sure you are getting 220 to 245 volt on T1 and T2 coming out of the contactor. (3) contactor not being energized 24 volts at the coil. We cover this problem in detail on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/check-air-conditioning-system-not-working/ We have an air conditioner troubleshooting flow chart on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/air-conditioner-troubleshooting1.pdf We have a long list of problems with answers on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/air-conditioning-heat-pump-troubleshooting-questions-answers-index/ I hope you can easily find and fix the problem. Hope you have a great day! Steve Arnold

  11. The compressor on my unit tries to start and flips breaker even if the thermostat wires are unhooked. I replaced the contactor thinking that was the problem but it still does the same thing. Replaced the capacitor because it was bad, but still no difference. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Hi Bradley! Thanks so much for the question. More than likely your compressor internal windings are grounded out. We discuss how to test for this on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/problem-i-installed-the-new-capacitor-and-the-boost-cap-i-received-now-the-outdoor-fan-will-start-briefly-but-the-compressor-does-not-the-power-management-box-on-the-side-of-the-house-shuts-off-pow/ I would suggest that you turn off the power to your unit and inspect to make sure none of the wires are grounding out against each other. If you do not find any that are grounded out then you probably have a bad compressor and need either a new compressor or a new outdoor unit. Sorry. I hope it is not the compressor. Steve

  12. My outside unit keeps tripping the breaker. I changed the capacitor as it was getting weak and also changed the contractors as they where burnt. The unit stop tripping the breaker but the unit didn’t start until I pushed the contactor in by hand. The unit ran for a few minutes than tripped the breaker again do you have any suggestions. I checked the compressor with an ohm meter and it said it was good. The condenser fan motor the shaft is a little loose could the bearings be going out and shorting out the unit.

    1. Hi Ronda! Sorry to hear you are having problems with your unit tripping the breaker. Most of the time breakers are tripped due to a short to ground, from the compressor running too high of amperage or from a loose wire or bad breaker. If any of the wires are loose or if the breaker contacts are worn and pitted then this will cause arcing and will trip the breaker. We cover this problem on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/problem-my-air-conditioning-unit-blows-the-circuit-breaker-after-it-runs-for-a-while-what-could-be-the-problem-would-a-super-boost-compressor-hard-start-booster-help/ We also talk about this problem on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/problem-i-installed-the-new-capacitor-and-the-boost-cap-i-received-now-the-outdoor-fan-will-start-briefly-but-the-compressor-does-not-the-power-management-box-on-the-side-of-the-house-shuts-off-pow/ I would suggest that you turn off the power to the unit and check to make sure all wire connections are good and tight. Since the contactor is not staying closed and you have to push it in with a screw driver to keep the unit running…your low pressure safety switch might be open. This could be cause by a low refrigerant condition. If your unit ran for a long time without the right refrigerant charge it might have over-heated the compressor, caused the windings in the compressor to melt down, contaminate the refrigeration system and cause your compressor to be tight. The only way to determine whether or not your compressor is tight would be to use an amprobe while the compressor is running. The amprobe will tell you how many amps the compressor is running. We sell an amprobe type meter on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/product/uei-g2-phoenix-pro-dl379-multi-function-digital-multimeter-with-lcd-readout/ If you use the amprobe and see that the compressor is running over FLA (full load amps) then this would determine the compressor is tight and you need a new compressor. Normal running amps on a 3 ton AC would be somewhere between 12 and 20 amps depending on the efficiency of the unit. If you are running over 30 amps then this would mean that the compressor is tight. I hope that the problem is just a loose wire and not the compressor. Best of luck in finding and repairing your AC. God bless you and your family today and always! Steve

  13. Hello there, I have a York 3 ton unit. A wire grounded out and I blew the. I replaced it and it worked great. Few days later the transformer went out. Replaced it, worked great. Week later, tried using the air, no power. TransformER bad again. What can be causing me to blow transformers?

    1. Hi Brian! Thanks so much for asking this question! Sorry to hear you are having trouble with the transformers burning up often. Most of the time the cause of transformer burn out are low voltage thermostat wires grounding out, touching each other, or grounding out against the frame of the furnace or air conditioning unit. I would suggest that you inspect your low voltage thermostat wires thoroughly. I tried to cover this question on the following page: https://arnoldserv.wpengine.com/problem-furnace-air-conditioner-heat-pump-will-not-come-on/ Most of the time a grounded out low voltage wire will blow the fuse on a control board if the board or furnace has a fuse. Best of luck in finding and fixing the problem. Steve

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