Central Air Outside Fan Only Spins with Assistance - What Next?

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Old 06-27-13, 07:27 AM
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Question Central Air Outside Fan Only Spins with Assistance - What Next?

Hi.
I have read through some of the threads here to start getting ideas, but I figured it would be better for me to create my own thread instead of piggy-backing on another one.

Yesterday evening, I was working in the garage, and heard a loud screeching noise that I hadn't heard before - coming from the side of the house. I went over there and saw that it was emanating from the A/C unit.

To my untrained ear, it seemed like it might be a bearing or something. I asked a neighbor, and he said he doesn't know anything about A/C, but that it sounded like a bearing going bad too.

When I walked up to it, I noticed that the fan was not spinning.

I went back inside the house and noticed that the system was still blowing cold air. So, that said it's not completely broken yet.....perhaps just sort of broken. :-)

At that point, I turned the system off at the thermostat.

Then, a little while later, I tested the system by turning power back on (stood outside and asked my wife to turn it on over the phone, actually), and this time, the only thing that happened was that it made a humming noise, like an electric motor that's trying to spin but is stuck or something like that.

I quickly turned it back off.

I then called a couple friends that are much more handy than I am. One of them suggested that I go out, with power on to the A/C system, and try to spin the fan with a screwdriver to see what happens. I did that, and it indeed started spinning, and pretty much seemed 'normal' at that point.

Then, I turned it back off.

When I contacted my friend this morning with the news about the fact that it spun up when I moved it a little with the screwdriver, he said he thinks it means that I need a new motor.

However, when I read through this thread (which seems very similar to what I'm dealing with), it seems as though it may be more simple than that....perhaps just replacing a capacitor?

So, is there anyone here that would be willing to help me diagnose this thing any further? I'd like to know more about what's wrong with it. If it's simple enough for me to do myself, I wouldn't be opposed to that at all, and if it's more complex than I can handle, at least I'd have more info to go on when interacting with the repair technician.

The house is about 8-9 years old. We are the first owner/resident.

Thanks in advance for any assistance that anyone is willing to offer...
 
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Old 06-27-13, 07:33 AM
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Power off then spin the fan by hand. Make sure it's smooth with no grinding and is able to free spin gently before it slows to a stop. Your checking bearings, so keep that in mind. If all feels good, you've probably got a bad capacitor. It's an easy and cheap fix. Don't run the unit until you get that fan running properly again or you may damage the compressor.

You could have either a dual run capacitor or two single capacitors. Follow the wiring from the fan and make sure you mark down the correct wire locations before you disconnect anything. Another thing to note, capacitors hold a charge so be careful, make sure the power supply is off when your working on the unit. You can discharge a capacitor by using a rubber handled screwdriver and shorting out the terminals on the cap.

Good luck with your repair!
 
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Old 06-27-13, 07:51 AM
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I went out just now and spun it (only with a screwdriver though, and didn't take the shroud off or anything....I'm sure I could get a better thrust on it without that thing in the way, because it's awkward sticking something through the vent on the top and trying to do something like that).

It seemed to spin just fine. It did not make any noise or hold back at all that I can tell....of course, I don't know what it's supposed to be like when it's in good condition, but it seemed fine.
 
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Old 06-27-13, 08:12 AM
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p.s. Just as an added FYI, just now, I went back out there and had my wife turn the system on just so I could see/hear what happens this time, after letting it sit over-night, and all I got this time was the humming noise. I only left it on for about 10 seconds though. So, I'm not sure if the fan is supposed to come on that quickly or what.
 
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Old 06-27-13, 12:01 PM
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Thumbs up

It was the capacitor. Of course, there may be something else that got tweaked by it not working too, but at least for now the system appears to be working again.

Thanks. :-)
 
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Old 07-03-13, 10:03 PM
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If you are close to the castle pines area, I don't mind looking at it for you. I am a licensed HVAC tech. No charge if close.
Thanks!
 
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