Suddenly not-so-cool air


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Old 07-18-11, 03:39 PM
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Suddenly not-so-cool air

Self-proclaimed noob here...I can barely spell "A/C" much less begin to figure out what's wrong with my system. But here goes...

First, the details:

2 story house - built (and system installed) 2005 - each floor on it's own thermostat with separate condensers and air handlers. Both thermostats set at 76 degrees day, 78 degrees night. Is a modular home, so everything came as a "package deal".

1st floor: approx 1800sf (includes accessory apartment)
Condenser: HEIL model NAC036AKC3 - 10 SEER - I think the installer told me it was 3.5 ton, but not really sure.
Air handler: International Comfort Products model EBP3600B2 - in basement

2nd floor: approx 1200sf
Condenser: HEIL model E042048662 - 10 SEER - I think the installer said it's 2 ton, but again, my memory's a little fuzzy.
Air handler: It's in the attic, so I'm not sure of the details, but I'm presuming it's the same brand as 1st floor.

Problem is with the 1st floor: has worked fine up until this morning. Air flow feels normal, however, air temp feels approx ambient temp - not the "cool" air that I'm used to feeling.

Filter is clean, evap coil appears clean.

Having read other threads on this forum, I went outside and felt the copper lines at the condenser. Both feel approx the same temp - not the noticeable difference I believe I'm supposed to feel (and I did feel at the 2nd floor condenser).

1. Is this what's referred to as a "split" system?
2. I've read about "capacitor reset" buttons - do these have one?
3. Anything else I can check before I bite the bullet and drop $200 on a service call (yes, I'm cheap...very cheap.)

Nonetheless, I've saved beaucoup bucks fixing stuff with knowledge gained from this forum - where safe and proper. I'm aware that HVAC certainly has less opportunities for us DIYer's, but I thought I'd reach out to you anyway.

Thanx! in advance for any guidance.

Wally
 
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Old 07-18-11, 04:05 PM
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Were the fan motor AND compressor working on the outdoor unit for the first floor?

btw, 1st floor 3 ton 2nd floor 3.5 ton
 
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Old 07-18-11, 04:08 PM
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Wally from what you are explaining sounds as though you may have a freon Leak . If everything is clean and the Compressor is running then your probably going to have to bite the bullet , And have a Tech come out a recharge the unit . I am unaware of any reset on these types of units .

Have you ran it for couple hours and looked at the Insulated line at the condenser ? Is it froze ? Cold ?
 
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Old 07-18-11, 04:24 PM
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Wow, you guys are fast!

Originally Posted by hvactechfw
Were the fan motor AND compressor working on the outdoor unit for the first floor?
Yup - both appear to be running normally.

btw, 1st floor 3 ton 2nd floor 3.5 ton
So the 2nd fl is bigger than the 1st fl? Huh...I would have thought the other way around, based on the sqft, and the 1st fl unit is slightly larger. Oh well, I trust you, and if you says its so, than its so.
 
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Old 07-18-11, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Richhvac
Wally from what you are explaining sounds as though you may have a freon Leak . If everything is clean and the Compressor is running then your probably going to have to bite the bullet , And have a Tech come out a recharge the unit . I am unaware of any reset on these types of units .

Have you ran it for couple hours and looked at the Insulated line at the condenser ? Is it froze ? Cold ?
I'm pretty particular about spraying down the fins on the condenser periodically, so I'd say they're pretty clean.

Been running all day. The larger insulated line was pretty much the same temp (to the touch) as the smaller line, and is dry (no sweating/frost). The same line on the 2nd fl condenser is much cooler (cold) and has the expected condensation (fairly humid outside).
 
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Old 07-18-11, 04:42 PM
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Just because the fan is running does not mean the compressor is. Remove the electrical cover on the ac and look at the capacitor, is it swollen?
 
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Old 07-18-11, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Richhvac
Wally from what you are explaining sounds as though you may have a freon Leak .
Hey Rich - I'm thinking more about this...assuming it's a leak, wouldn't it have to be a fairly significant leak? - considering it was working fine yesterday (blowing noticeably cooler air than it is today).

The lineset is continuous from the condenser - through the basement wall - along the basement ceiling (approx 30') - to the air handler, and it's exposed the entire length. I walked the entire length with a bright flashlite, and looked closely at the fittings at each end - didn't see any obvious signs of a leak.

I suppose without using soapy liquid or a halogen detection, I may not see it...just curious.
 
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Old 07-18-11, 05:10 PM
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Originally Posted by hvactechfw
Just because the fan is running does not mean the compressor is. Remove the electrical cover on the ac and look at the capacitor, is it swollen?
HVAC - Glad you said this, 'cause I think I was a little too hasty in my first response. Keeping in mind my incompetence - I was going to ask you how I can check the compressor operation.

It's starting to get dark outside, so I won't be able to check it till tomorrow (but luckily, I'm off the next 3 days - yay!)

You're picture is fine, but I'll still ask - when you say swollen, do you mean the top bulging up (like the one on the left)? I'll see if I can take a picture of it.
 
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Old 07-18-11, 05:18 PM
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yes, or the bottom bulging or the sides. Most a/c units have a dual-run capacitor. It is for both the compressor and the fan, Often only one side will fail or both. If you have a clamp-on amp meter you can check to see if it is running by clamping the common wire to the compressor.
 
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Old 07-18-11, 05:57 PM
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Wally if it were a leak it probably wouldn't be a serious one , usually when they leak it is slow and over long period of time . And after reading your post again , Units were installed in 2005 would be about the time it would run low . It works fine one day the very next day not good at all .

I am leaning the Capacitor now if you are unsure the compressor isn't working as HVACtech has said , They Ice up if it is low on freon but wont ice up if the compressor isn't running . Also you put the bigger unit on 2nd floor because heat rises .
 
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Old 07-19-11, 07:53 AM
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Hey guys! I think you found the problem.

Pulled the electrical cover...the capacitor is not swollen...however: the red wire going to the C terminal (from the contactor??) is broke off. Actually, it looks like it shorted, then broke.

What's next? Is it as easy as replacing that wire? Or should I be concerned with what made it break. Being 6 years old?
 
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Old 07-19-11, 02:36 PM
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Well, please don't chastise me too much for not waiting for your reply but I went ahead and changed out the broken wire - I figured all I had to lose was another broken wire.

It broke right at the terminal that goes on to the capacitor. I have a feeling that terminal got a little surface rust on it and possibly had a quick short which broke the wire. I cleaned the terminal with some emory cloth before putting it back on.

Yay!! Now blowing nice cold air! I'll keep a close eye on it. Let me know if there's anything I should watch out for.
 
 

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