Broken air handler


Old 09-14-06, 11:58 AM
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Broken air handler

I'm a home repair dunce, but I'm trying to learn. We have an air conditioner system consisting of a compressor unit outside the house, and an air handler in the attic. I think we have two air handlers, because there are two places to replace filters in the ceiling. Yesterday afternoon, there stopped being any air blowing out of our vents. I could see out the window that the compressor was still running, but there was no sound of the blower running under either of the filters. I checked the circuit breakers and switched them off and on just to make sure, and that had no effect.

So we turned it off at the thermostat and left it off overnight, then I tried turning it on this morning. The blower just above the thermostat started, and I felt cool air coming out of a vent for a few seconds, but by the time I walked to the other blower everything had stopped blowing again, so I turned it back off and spent the rest of the morning trying to find someone to fix it.

I'm not content to just have someone fix it without understanding what's going on, so I'm trying to find out how to troubleshoot this. I've called two repair places so far. One said it could be the run cap at $90 plus service call or the fan motor at $300-400. The other said it could be the fan motor at $150-200 plus hourly labor or the control board, $150, or the thermostat, $100. I'm not sure if this sounds reasonable, but it seems like enough disparity between the two people I talked to that I'm going to want to do some homework.

Anyway, where would I start with troubleshooting this? Is there a list of things I can try to narrow it down? Our thermostat is an old non-electronic kind, and the compressor unit outside is a Goodman (which I've read is not so good, man) that's about 8 years old (been here longer than we have).

Thanks for any help you can give me!
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Old 09-14-06, 12:23 PM
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a compressor unit outside the house, and an air handler in the attic. I think we have two air handlers, because there are two places to replace filters in the ceiling.
First I think you only have one blower up there. So go up and check it out and find out just what you do have there. You said the motor did try and start so the relay should be good next is the capacitor for the cost try a new one. Then next is a new motor. Dont let the outside unit run with out the inside fan running.

Old 09-16-06, 08:33 AM
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Ok, husband went up and looked, and found one air handler/furnace, removed the access panel and took pictures for me. We really are complete novices though, and despite several hours googling to try to figure out what we're looking for, neither of us can figure out where the capacitor is. There's an obvious black motor attached to a roundish white fan housing, and a couple of wires (black and tan) plugged into the motor. There's a black plastic cylinder attached to the bottom of the unit with a couple more wires (both yellow) leading from the top of the unit down to it. Beside the motor is a metal box with a metal tube attached to the bottom and top of it, and a switch with on/off and M1 and C2. Husband says he's had to mess with that to light the furnace. And beside that are several metal cylinders in a vertical row. I can post a picture if it's not obvious what I'm talking about.

My guess is the capacitor is either part of the motor assembly or in the black cylinder on the floor? I was able to find pictures of capacitors such as an air conditioner would use, but they didn't show scale. How big a thing are we looking for? Is it going to be inside the motor housing somewhere? Husband didn't see any obvious capacitors on the outside of the motor. Is it possible that our setup doesn't have a capacitor, or are we just not looking in the right place?

Sorry to be so stupid!
Old 09-16-06, 09:50 AM
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The blower motor capacitor is a metal or plastic can. It can be round or oval shaped. It has 2 wires that connect at the top. In most cases it will be close to the motor, but not always.

I believe this job should be best left to a technician. Doing this kind of work without experience and electrical knowledge would be difficult and likely dangerous.

The quotes and possible problems listed in your original post sound correct. Also the price does not seem out of line. Prices will vary from city to city based on labor rates for your area.

Good luck.
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