AC Unit Still Not Working after Freon Recharge

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Old 05-31-14, 09:03 AM
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AC Unit Still Not Working after Freon Recharge

Hello everyone.
This is my first post here, but this site has always been a big help to my husband and me when doing repairs around the home. Here is my situation now:
About four days ago I noticed that our house wasn't getting as cool as it should. The temperature inside was 75, while the thermostat was set at 72. Took a look at the unit outside and sure enough, one of the pipes (excuse me for not knowing what it's called) was frozen. The first thing I did was turned the unit off to let the ice thaw and I just let the fan run. I changed the air filter even though it wasn't that dirty. My husband and I also cleaned the condenser coils and poured water/bleach down the drain pipe. We had a similar problem last year and after doing these things the air unit worked fine.

Anyway, none of this stuff helped this time, so we got a technician out here the next day. He checked out everything and said everything under the house looked fine. He said we were low on freon, so he recharged it with 5.5 lbs. He also recommended replacing the capacitor as he said it was on the verge of going bad. Since he was wanting $80 to replace it, we told him not to. Figured we could save $$$ doing that ourselves. I bought a new one today from C.C. Dickson for $8.00, and they even checked the old one. The guy there said that there wasn't a thing wrong with the old one. Anyway, the HVAC tech said that if the unit did the same thing again that they would have to come back again and check it out.

Well, yesterday, two days after he "fixed" it, I noticed the house was getting warmer and the pipe outside had frozen again. The unit has been off since yesterday and we're just using box fans to stay cool.

So, several questions... 1. If the freon was low in the first place, wouldn't that ALREADY indicate a leak was present and should he have found it when he was originally here? Just curious if it's common for them to recharge the freon and wait to see if it happens again or should he have looked to find the source of the problem on the first visit? In other words, was he just wanting to come out again to charge for another service call? Yes, I admit I'm paranoid that all these repairmen are out for nothing but more money. That's why I feel like I need to do everything myself. 2. If it isn't a freon leak, what else could be the problem? 3. The original capacitor says it's 370VAC, while the one they gave me today says 440VAC. They said I could use it and that you can always go up in voltage. Just wanted to double check and make sure that was correct before installing it.

I would appreciate any input. I'm just a stay-at-home mom with little knowledge of a central air unit and I'm learning as I go, so please talk to me in layman's terms. Thanks a lot!
 
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Old 05-31-14, 09:17 AM
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I have seen parts houses check a capacitor with an Ohm meter to see if the dial jumps. Did they use a meter that measures capacitance?

http://i151.photobucket.com/albums/s...apacitorGE.jpg

Lack of airflow across the indoor coil and lack of refrigerant can cause ice.

Is the air filter and indoor coil clean?
 
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Old 05-31-14, 09:20 AM
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Well, not much to say...you are correct in all your thoughts.

1. 5.5 lbs is a LOT and yes he should have checked for a leak. The fact that you are having issues so quickly after the service means it's a relatively big leak. It's a sealed system and should never need a re-charge. Did you hang any pictures on a wall where the lines run? Any chance you pierced a line with a screw or nail? Any evidence that you can see of a line that rubbed through or a kind of oily stain/substance at the connections or joints? Call a different company, since the first one has already shown their true faces.

2. Not much else would cause the issue. Nothing that I can think of, though I'm no HVAC tech. If you have good airflow and are still getting frozen coils, thats almost always low refrigerant.

3. Yes, higher voltage is ok, as long as the capacitance (farads) is the same.

You may want to give the model numbers of your equipment. The Pro's may know something specific to your system.
 
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Old 05-31-14, 10:10 AM
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Yes, both the HVAC "tech" and the guy at the parts house checked the capacitor with a meter. The tech that came out said it was bad, while the guy at C.C. Dickson said it was fine.
Yes, I changed out the air filter as soon as I noticed the air wasn't working right. As far as the indoor coil, I haven't a clue if it's clean or not. I will have to check that. I've never been under the house to see that part of the unit and not sure if my husband has seen it either. I don't even know if the HVAC guy that came out checked it or not. He just said everything looked good under the house, so who knows what that meant...
 
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Old 05-31-14, 10:23 AM
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Gunguy is correct. 'low on refrigrant -- leaks' is your problem. The tech should check for leaks first, he should spend at least a few minutes to check for some of the obvious leaks(may be he did). In this case, since he does not know it is a big leak or small leak, and he does not want to spend the time (he can spend a lot of time to find nothing if the leak is very small), so he recharged the system. If it leaks out again in a few days, he will know this is not a small leak and it should be easy to find. otherwise the recharge may get you through the whole Summer, and he will not hear from you again until next year. This is how it works most of the time. do not blame on him, he can not charge you $120/hour if he finds nothing.
 
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Old 05-31-14, 10:37 AM
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Well, not much to say...you are correct in all your thoughts.

1. 5.5 lbs is a LOT and yes he should have checked for a leak. The fact that you are having issues so quickly after the service means it's a relatively big leak. It's a sealed system and should never need a re-charge. Did you hang any pictures on a wall where the lines run? Any chance you pierced a line with a screw or nail? Any evidence that you can see of a line that rubbed through or a kind of oily stain/substance at the connections or joints? Call a different company, since the first one has already shown their true faces.

2. Not much else would cause the issue. Nothing that I can think of, though I'm no HVAC tech. If you have good airflow and are still getting frozen coils, thats almost always low refrigerant.

3. Yes, higher voltage is ok, as long as the capacitance (farads) is the same.

You may want to give the model numbers of your equipment. The Pro's may know something specific to your system.
Okay, well, it's good to know how much is a lot when talking about freon. I didn't know if that was a little bit or not. I don't recall hanging any photos at all lately. The only thing that I did do about a week before the unit starting acting up was that I put new tape around the duct work that comes from where the air filter is and then goes into the floor. The duct work goes through a storage closet and some stuff had damaged some of the duct work, so I retaped it up. Not thinking that would have anything to do with it though. ?? Like I said, the air handler/indoor unit is under the house and a pain to get to, so I don't know of any way a line could have gotten punctured.

So, I'm assuming that the most logical explanation right now is that there is a definitely a leak somewhere? If that is the case, so I know what to expect, how much does something like that usually cost to repair? We already had to have a new drain field put in less than two months ago, so our house repair money has pretty much been depleted! When it rains it pours.

BTW, the model numbers on my paperwork is Rheem RPMO-036JAZ (heat pump) and RBHC-17J115FH (not sure what this was). That was what was put in back in January 2005. I remember us having lots of problems with this thing right after it was put in, but it hasn't given us any trouble for a while. It says on our paper work that we had a ten year warranty for parts and labor. I'm guessing that leaks probably don't count, but figured I'd ask.
Thank you all for the advice!
 
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Old 05-31-14, 10:42 AM
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Warranty should cover leaks.
 
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