Hard Start Kit and Capacitor Advice

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Old 04-21-10, 08:44 PM
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Hard Start Kit and Capacitor Advice

I am a first time home owner and I know nothing much about HVAC issues. The house is 25 years old, but the unit is 15. I don't know all the specifics, but could get a hold of all the model #'s if need be.

I just replaced all the ductwork in the house and added insulation, but now my HVAC guy is saying I need to add a hard start kit to the compressor and also a capacitor.

I have three main questions: what will these do for my unit? will they help extend the life of it because I am now too broke to consider replacing it? and how much should this cost me?

He is wanting to charge me $500 for parts and labor and I have been researching online...it seems to be that both parts are less than $50 each. Is he trying to rip me off? If so, how mechanically inclined do I need to be to just do this myself?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 04-22-10, 04:57 AM
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Prices vary by market. It also depends what kind of hard start kit he is using, there are several. I tend to be on the low price side of things and I would charge around $175 for the job. Any thing over $250 is too much IMO.
 
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Old 04-22-10, 07:37 PM
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Take a look at this web site. It may help you decide. The kit will probably come with complete instructions. You have to be careful to kill any electrical supply to the unit before starting the job.

How to Diagnose & Repair Air Conditioner Compressor Hard Starting - Air Conditioning Compressor & Condenser Replacement or Repair: How to Inspect, Diagnose, Repair Residential Air Conditioning Compressors & Systems

Give this one a try also.
http://www.myhvacparts.com/Catalogue...it%20Order.htm
 
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Old 04-23-10, 04:45 PM
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Originally Posted by RubyBlue View Post
The house is 25 years old, but the unit is 15. I don't know all the specifics, but could get a hold of all the model #'s if need be.
Model and Serial numbers ALWAYS help us help you! At 15 the unit is getting near the end of it's life if it hasn't been maintained.

Originally Posted by RubyBlue View Post
I just replaced all the ductwork in the house and added insulation
DIY or paid for?

Originally Posted by RubyBlue View Post
but now my HVAC guy is saying I need to add a hard start kit to the compressor and also a capacitor.
And the light goes on!

Originally Posted by RubyBlue View Post
I have three main questions: what will these do for my unit? will they help extend the life of it because I am now too broke to consider replacing it? and how much should this cost me?
Nuts and bolts.

The compressor, outdoor fan, and indoor fan all have capacitors. Rather than a long technical explanation, just know that the cap helps the motors run more efficiently and cooler. It's a good thing.

A hard start basically gives the compressor a huge kick in the butt of current when it starts to help it get up to speed. Then it's out of the electrical circuit until the next start up.

It's common to add a hard start to and older compressor that IS having a problem on start up. The comp is old, internal clearances are larger and it needs a kick to get it started.

It's not uncommon for an new "tight" compressor to need one also. And, some units come with a hard start from the factory.

Originally Posted by RubyBlue View Post
He is wanting to charge me $500 for parts and labor and I have been researching online...it seems to be that both parts are less than $50 each. Is he trying to rip me off? If so, how mechanically inclined do I need to be to just do this myself?
Sounds like someone is thinking cash cow to me. Just milk it a little more. At an HVAC supply house, you should/could get both for $50.

It is a DIY. We can walk you through it. You change the cap, add the hart start and done.

The BIG question for you is. Does the unit start? Does it sound funny (like it's having a hard time) when it starts? So the interior lights dim when it starts?

Bottom line is that a new cap being needed will be evident. A hard start will not hurt to have and won't hurt the comp. It might even be happy to have it. But, do you need it?

Sorry for the long post. I don't get a lot of time to spend in the forums. But when I get time I spend time.
 
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Old 04-23-10, 07:52 PM
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Wow ok lots of good help from you boys!

I can get model numbers tomorrow, it's dark and raining now, so I'm not going outside.

I'm not sure of the maintenance before I bought the house a year ago, but I have had it serviced (not repaired, just cleaned and looked over seasonally) twice.

The ducts were done by a pro, the insulation was done by me and if I ever have to do it again, it will be done by a pro...or at least done in winter. Even April in Dallas is crazy hot.

The unit starts and it doesn't seem to delay much from from messing with the thermostat and it doesn't sound funny to me. The lights do flicker though.

I got a second guy to come look and he is saying it needs both as well but only charging $250, so half....but still $200ish for labor for a job that would take what....less than an hour?

I still need to think on it....I have killed a lot of perfectly good appliances trying to fix them on my own.

If I add these things though, what can I expect approximately for the rest of the lifetime to be on the unit? Am I going to have to endure replacing it in the next couple years....because if so, I might as well dig myself a bigger debt hole and jump in because this house has already cost me way more than I expected it to.
 
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Old 04-23-10, 08:55 PM
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Originally Posted by RubyBlue View Post
If I add these things though, what can I expect approximately for the rest of the lifetime to be on the unit? Am I going to have to endure replacing it in the next couple years....because if so, I might as well dig myself a bigger debt hole and jump in because this house has already cost me way more than I expected it to.
Well, having the same diag from 2 people (I hope from different companies) and dimming lights something is wrong.

If it was me I would change the cap and add a boost.

I'm not at your house. And, if I was at your house I would figure it out and tell you the truth.

The thing may last a few more years, might last a day. No way to know.

It's a 50/50 thing maybe a catch 22. But worth a try while planning for the worse outcome.

You have to think, how much to repair with no warranty vs how much to replace with warranty.

Me, it's a machine. Just do what I want you to do and shut the F*** UP!
 
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