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YIPES! Outside A/C Fan Dead or Sporadic, Furnace Blower Won't Shut Off - HELP?

YIPES! Outside A/C Fan Dead or Sporadic, Furnace Blower Won't Shut Off - HELP?


  #1  
Old 07-29-02, 03:39 PM
ldefrenne
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Question YIPES! Outside A/C Fan Dead or Sporadic, Furnace Blower Won't Shut Off - HELP?

I SO hope you can help me. I'm hoping I won't have to call in an A/C guy but it will probably end up that way. At least I'd like to get a handle on the situation before I play Russian Roulette with the phone book and pick someone to call.

I noticed warm/humid air blowing out of the registers. Apparently, the outside Fan on the A/C had stopped.

I played around with fuses. I was certain that was the problem. (we are upgrading within 2 weeks to circuits). I replaced the fuses with new ones to make sure I was covered there.

After I played with the fuses, the fan kicked on again and cold air was coming through the registers. I was all excited and assumed it was a bad fuse UNTIL it shut off again.

Then it went back on for 5 min. Then poof.

I called a manly type friend who suggested the system might be frozen due to high use. Told me to Turn the FAN from auto to ON. Turn SYSTEM to OFF from 'cool'. Let it sit overnight to melt any freeze up in the system. I did this and turned it on this morning. Nothing.

So I did the following:

1. Electrical box tested w/new fuses.
2. Thermostat (new nice unit) - Replaced batteries.
3. Lowered Thermostat very low to see if it would work.
4. Checked to see if fan was manually spinnable (it's fine).
5. Checked air filter in furnace (looks clean).
6. Turned system to off, and Fan to "on". Let it rest overnight to melt the system if that was the problem. (NO!)

Darn! Is there anything else I can do to try to determine what the problem is before I spend big bucks with a repairman? I just hate to call one in only to have him tell me (if I get an honest one) the problem is some little thing that we might be able to fix ourselves.

The unit is about 4-5 years old. An Armstrong Concept 10.

ALSO!!!! Even with the System set to OFF (vs. heat or cool) and the Fan set to AUTO (vs. on), my furnace is still blowing air. Stale nothing air. I can't figure this one out either. The only thing I can think of to make it stop is to pull the fuse on the thing.

Could these 2 issues be related? Can anyone help me? Thanks!!

Lisa
 
  #2  
Old 07-30-02, 03:58 AM
bigjohn
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Try resetting the furnace by shutting off the power and turn it back on maybe 5 minutes later. Now the fuses- make sure they are DUAL ELeMENT/TIME DELAY type fuses and not ONE TIME fuses. One time fuses will blow when the compressor starts. Make sure you didn't replace with the wrong type. Also, look at the nameplate on the outdoor unit. It should indicate a minimum and maximum fuse size. Be sure that the fuses are at least the minimum size.
 
  #3  
Old 07-30-02, 07:23 AM
ldefrenne
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Doesn't seem that's the problem. My gut feeling is that the outside unit works but something is telling it to shut off?
 
  #4  
Old 07-30-02, 09:04 AM
bigjohn
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Ok- here are some more things to check at the outdoor unit. Maybe the contact points on the compressor contactor are worn to the point where sometimes power will go thru and sometimes it won't. Inside the control box of the outdoor unit, look for a large relay. See if the contact points look burnt. Another possibility is the outdoor fan motor is marginal. I've seen motors with worn bearings that will run for 15 minutes to an hour and all of a sudden stop. This causes high pressure in the unit which overloads the compressor until it shuts off. Another possibility is the unit is low on freon and a low pressure switch is shutting off the unit. [this is a stretch because most residential units don't have pressure controls but some do] Maybe your unit has a lockout relay. What happens if you shut off the power to the outdoor unit and then turn it right back on? [another stretch, most residential units don't have lockout relays] Check into these items and let us know what you find. Oh yeah- make sure all the wiring connections are tight.
 
  #5  
Old 07-30-02, 09:22 AM
ldefrenne
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Thank YOU!

I didn't open the outdoor unit yet. Yesterday, I glanced in there to see if anything was weird (dead animal, etc). I'm not quite sure if I'd recognize a relay if I saw one (I'm at a very low level of understanding these things).

Here's the latest development.....

This morning, I tired of the fan blowing constantly so I shut off the furnace power completely. That was about 3 hours ago.

I then wanted to see if I could get the whole shebang to run again (it didn't run at all yesterday). I turned the thermostat to 'Cool' and the fan to 'On' then went downstairs and kicked on the power to the furnace. Went outside and sure enough - it's now working again!

It's shooting out cold air. It's been running now for 11 minutes.

But then again, it did this 2 days ago and stopped after a short period of time. I think the longest I got it to run was around an hour? The only thing I did differently this time was shutting down the furnace for a while. (Edit: Sorry. I tried this yesterday to no avail.)

Obviously some electrical type deal which all in all - compared to replacing mechanical parts, isn't such a bad thing. I'm just frustrated because it WANTS to work OK. Like it's on the edge of working?

Thoughts? (It's been running for 14 min. now).

EDIT! It's been running for 2.5 hours now. House is nice and cool. Is it possible the turning furnace off/on deal fixed it? I hate to get my hopes but but it's really been running for a long time. What could have happened to elicit this change? The furnace being shut off for a bit? Turning the 'stat on first then the furnace? If it was "reset" as you mentioned... What is the basic gist of this? I.e.; what would have been reset? Maybe that part is going downhill?
 

Last edited by ldefrenne; 07-30-02 at 11:42 AM.
  #6  
Old 07-30-02, 12:23 PM
ldefrenne
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URGH! OK - It ran for 3 hours and has just now stopped. Furnace fan still blowing.

Again - the Fan was set to "ON" not Auto in this case. If it was behaving correctly, the outside unit would not shut off. Correct?

I just shut off the system and set the fan to auto. It's still blowing. LOL! Shoot me!

Does all this help narrow down the diagnosis?
 
  #7  
Old 07-30-02, 01:57 PM
bigjohn
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Ok- let's start with the indoor fan. Setting the fan switch at the thermostat to the ON position will cause the indoor fan to run all the time. When the fan switch is in the AUTO position, the indoor fan will cycle on/off with the cooling cycles. Perhaps you've been putting the switch in the ON position inadvertantly. OR, if you've have it in the AUTO position and the thermostat is calling for cooling but because there's no cooling the thermostat never shuts off. IOW- with outdoor unit crapped out but the thermostat still calling for cooling; because the house is warming up, the indoor fan will continue to run even with the fan switch in AUTO. Make sense? This might explain why the fan has been running all the time. Now- you're saying the outdoor unit is off again and I assume you mean crapped out and not just cycled off because the house is cool. I really think you're going to find that the fan motor on the outdoor unit is running for a while and then overheating and shutting off on it's internal protector. When this happens the outdoor unit can no longer dispel the heat and so the freon pressure rises to the point where it overloads the compressor. Turn off the power to the outdoor unit. Take the side panel off the unit and make sure that the air vents on the bottom of the motor aren't clogged. Follow the wires from the motor back down to a metal can looking thing. Does it look bulged out or is it leaking oil? How freely does the fan blade turn if you push on it? Are the coils on the outdoor unit clean? Next time you get the unit running, set up your lawn chair next to it and babysit it. [set the thermostat as cold as it will go and leave it there] See if all of a sudden the fan stops running but the compressor doesn't. You'll know because the compressor will sound like it's really laboring. If the whole thing goes off, [compressor and fan] BUT the thermostat is still calling for cooling, you probably have a bad compressor contactor. Check these items and let us know.
 
  #8  
Old 07-30-02, 02:20 PM
ldefrenne
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OK - I've never set the Fan to 'On' before. I've always had it in 'Auto' mode. I figured by switching it to On, I'd have a better shot at knowing if the unit shut down due to its problem rather then setting it to 'Auto' and wondering/not being able to tell if it shut down due to the temp inside the house. At least that was my theory.

Yes - I have shut the furnace totally off with the 'stat Fan setting at 'Auto' - yet the furnace fan won't shut off. Ever.

I can't even figure out if I have 1 or 2 problems here

When I said that after the nice cooling 3 hour run today and it stopped. That means the entire outside unit was stopped. No sounds, no fan, etc. When it stopped, the 'stat settings were at Fan on 'On' and System on 'Cool'. So from what I know, if the fan was on ON, no matter how cold the house got - the A/C would still crank. Crank till the house froze over. Is that theory correct? Yet it stopped.

I let everthing sit for a while and decided to turn on the furnace again. Flipped the 'stat to Auto (fan) and system to cool.

The darned thing is working again. Again - I was in the vicinity when it stopped before but perhaps not close enough to tell if there was whirring, etc. after the fan stopped. The fan does move freely (with a stick) when the unit is off.

I will now go sit by this baby in the 91 degree heat. I only hope it doesn't take 3 hours for it to die again. LOL

Ok - Do I set the Fan on Auto or On to do this test? On right? Because if on Auto - it might have just turned off cuz it's cold inside? Yes?

I haven't taken the unit apart yet. There is a possibility it's filthy inside. The outside was a bit dirty (I admit). I cleaned off what seemed to be lint type material on the grills so it's possible there's a messy clogged disaster in there.

Oh my goodness! Well. I sure do appreciate your help on this!! Will report back if I don't melt first.
 
  #9  
Old 07-30-02, 02:51 PM
bigjohn
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The ON switch setting only controls the indoor fan and not the temperature. The number you set the thermostat at controls the temperature which is why I'm suggesting that you set it as cold as it will go in order to keep it running while you check out the outdoor unit. The lint you mentoined may be a culprit. Is the outdoor unit near your dryer vent? You may want to first take off the side cover on the outdoor unit and see if it's a mess in there. If so, clean it out and to eliminate it and especially check the air intake vents on the fan motor to see if they're clogged with lint. If so, vacuum it out. Then do the babysit thing. With the thermostat set as cold as it will go, it's very important for you to witness how the unit shuts down. See if the whole thing dies or does the fan quit first and then the compressor labors before shutting off. You're going to get one shot at seeing it, otherwise you'll have to do it all over again. So be prepared to stay by the unit- cold drinks, suntan loition, book to read, etc. For the babysit mode, I would use fan on. We can try to sort the indoor fan out later. Right now our priority is to figure out what's up with the cooling.
 
  #10  
Old 07-30-02, 03:20 PM
ldefrenne
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OK - I had set it to 45 deg. (lowest it would go). I had the Fan set to 'Auto'. Came in for a drink, read your "set it to ON" message, switched it to on. Went outside, make a phone call and Poof! It went out.

The whole unit shut down. Zero sounds. The fan blade spun slowly down to a stop.

I guess now I have to go open this up. Looks like there's a zillion screws holding it together. After I shut down power so I don't die, should I go after that solid side panel then? The other 3 sides are grids. The lid seems attached to all the panels and it seems that lifting the lid will pull up the fan or something? I'll try loosening it and remove the side panel.

On the plus side, I didn't have to sit there for 3 hours.

Will go look and potentially clean. Is there anything else I should do while I'm in there? So sorry to take up your time.
 
  #11  
Old 07-30-02, 03:45 PM
ldefrenne
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This is certainly gross! I removed the side panel (easier than anticipated) and I immediately see a semi-skeletalized mouse along with a nest of shredded papers. This was located about 8-10" from that little tin can thing you mentioned by the wall. However, right next to the tin can thing, the poor dead mouse is RIGHT next to all the connectors there. Seems his back leg is against one.

You said... "make sure that the air vents on the bottom of the motor aren't clogged. Follow the wires from the motor back down to a metal can looking thing. Does it look bulged out or is it leaking oil? "

I haven't cleaned/vacuumed under the motor yet but I do see leaves and debris (and nuts!) just looking at around the outer edges, the debris doesn't seem thick but there could very well be a huge mess directly under the unit especially if it sucks air. Hmmmmmm.....

I see nothing wrong with the tin can as far as oil & bulging go. Just a dead mouse.

I don't see any chewing of, or damage to wires.

The inside of the 3-sided grill part is perfectly clean.

There are minor bits of cob-web type debris here and there which I'll clean.

I'm heading back out to clear the bottom of the motor. I'm going to try manual removal as I want to get an assessment of the amount of junk (can't do that w/the vacuum). Then I'll fine tune it w/the vac.

Then I guess I am to do the sit by the unit and test deal.

This is almost fun in a sick way.
 
  #12  
Old 07-30-02, 03:51 PM
bigjohn
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OK- now we're getting somewhere! It sounds like you're saying that the unit just died. Not fan first then noisy compressor? Correct?? I've been mulling this over and after reading back thru your posts I noticed that you mentioned new programmable thermostat. I'm thinking, hmmm- indoor fan acting kooky, outdoor unit dying, these two problems are unrelated and the only thing they have in common is the thermostat. Did the problems start after the thermostat was changed? Is the thermostat a LUX or Maple Chase that you got at Home Depot? The lower price programmables are VERY troublesome. Also, the battery backup programmables are sometimes troublesome. Was your old thermstat the regular mercury bulb type? Any chance you still have it? Hre's what I think:

1. the thermostat is causing both problems or
2. the contactor in the outdoor unit is bad and, in addition, something like a bad fan relay in the furnace is causing the indoor fan to run all the time.

Tell me more about the thermostat.
 
  #13  
Old 07-30-02, 04:49 PM
ldefrenne
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You said... "now we're getting somewhere! It sounds like you're saying that the unit just died. Not fan first then noisy compressor? Correct?? " YES. They both died at the same exact time - to the second.

The thermostat replaced the old one at the time the A/C was put in. It is a Honeywell programmable CT3200 and at that time, I paid about $80-90 bucks (at Home Depot). I thought it was nice at the time. This is it.

http://content.honeywell.com/yourhom...ats/CT3200.htm

After I made sure it wasn't a fuse issue, I turned to the 'stat. Thought maybe I banged it or slammed the lid down to loosen wires. Wires/connections looked brand new. Put in new batteries even though the "low batt" sign wasn't there.

I vacuumed/cleaned the A/C. They sure don't make these so you can clean under that compressor! The area was wet under it (I assume from rain) and was mucky/muddy. I took a stick and pulled out as much as I could (clumps of gunk) then vacuumed around the rim and tried to get the vac tool under it as much as possible. I have no way of knowing if something might be stuck to the grid that I assume is under the unit because the unit seems less than 1 inch from the floor of the case.

Would it be a ridiculous idea to power spray right under it to make sure everything is gone? I guess I might ruin things. I think I did pretty well with the stick.

I sure do hope it's the thermostat and not your #2 idea. But these 2 issues did go bad simultaneously. Yep. The same time.

Do I move into thermostat testing? In surfing the net, I had found an explanation of how to test the wires, but he referred to a black wire and my 'stat only has red, green, blue & white so I gave up.

EDIT: When I pushed the dead mouse out, there was that leg still attached to the connector for the tin can. I counted the legs on the dead mouse. 4. I look at the leg in the unit. 1. 5 Legs.
 
  #14  
Old 07-30-02, 05:19 PM
bigjohn
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So the thermostat wasn't recently changed. That's what I was wondering about. Now, here's how we'll check the thermostat. Turn off the power to both the outdoor unit and the furnace. Look at the wires on the thermostat and make a sketch of which color goes to which terminal. [VERY IMPORTANT] You should have wires on R,Y,G,and W terminals. Pull some excess cable out of the wall. Ok, remove the wires from the thermostat. Twist together the bare copper ends of the wires that went to R, G and Y terminals. Set the wire from W terminal out of the way. I don't care about the colors, just ensure that you get right wires together. Make sure you have a nice tight connection. Twist them together with a pair of pliers if need be but not so tight that you break then off as they are somewhat thin. Let the connection dangle in the air, not touching anything else and NOT touching the wire that was on W terminal. Now, turn the furnace power back on, the indoor fan should start. Now, turn on the power to the outdoor unit. Turn it on firmly, the unit is starting under a load. The outdoor unit should start up. Now, back to babysit mode. If the outdoor unit quits again, you most likely have a bad contactor. [the big relay we discussed earlier] If it DOESN'T quit again, replace the thermostat making sure that you get the right color on the right terminal. BTW- washing the outdoor unit out is a good idea, but do it after we figure this out. Be sure to have the power to the outdoor unit off and let it dry out real good before restoring power.
 
  #15  
Old 07-30-02, 05:25 PM
ldefrenne
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My 'stat has red, green, blue & white. Would the blue be the equivalent of yellow? Just want to make sure before I go play with wires.

EDIT: Ooops! I see on the plastic Y for yellow. Nevermind. I'll do this now.

EDIT: Question. If I disconnect all 4 wires from the thermostat - How can I turn on the A/C?
 

Last edited by ldefrenne; 07-30-02 at 05:43 PM.
  #16  
Old 07-30-02, 06:15 PM
bigjohn
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Ok Please re-read my entire previous post. Twisting the bare ends of the wires together will complete the same circuits that the thermostat does. This way, if the unit quits again, the problem CANNOT be the thermostat. But, if it DOES NOT quit again. the problem has to be the thermostat. Be sure to follow the sequence I gave you and let us know what happens. Don't worry about the colors of the wires, just make sure you make the sketch before you remove them.
 
  #17  
Old 07-30-02, 06:33 PM
ldefrenne
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This is the part I don't understand.... "Now, turn on the power to the outdoor unit. Turn it on firmly, the unit is starting under a load."

This is after I twist the colored wires together, leave white hanging, turn on the furnace.

I'm not sure I understand how to turn on the power to the outdoor unit firmly. Am I being stupid with this one? I'm not getting it.

EDIT: I'm pondering and thinking I need to pull the fuse to the a/c somehow to turn it off. Or, there is a box outside near the A/C. Has a red pull tab deal in it. You can switch it upside down and the unit will be off. Perhaps that's what I need to do, then start the a/c by that method? Sorry!
 

Last edited by ldefrenne; 07-30-02 at 07:08 PM.
  #18  
Old 07-30-02, 07:02 PM
bigjohn
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I'm sorry for confusing you. I'm assuming that you're shutting the power to the outdoor unit off at the switch near the unit? What I mean is, all the control circuits are hard wired together so the instant you apply power to the outdoor unit, it's going to start right up. I want you to expect that and not be startled and maybe think something is wrong and start to pull the switch back out. Just close the switch normally but without hesitation because the unit will come right on.
 
  #19  
Old 07-30-02, 07:16 PM
ldefrenne
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OK - I understand. Yes, that "thing" outside is the switch. I had pulled it out when I cleaned the unit so I wouldn't die. But I wasn't quite sure EXACTLY that would cover my butt, so I shut the whole house down. I'm gonna wire up now. I understand. Oooooo.. Tension so thick you could cut it with a knife.
 
  #20  
Old 07-30-02, 07:24 PM
ldefrenne
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Okie Dokie! Everything's cranking. I did all of the above and am now in full babysitting mode. You really know your stuff!

Thanks! Will report back.
 
  #21  
Old 07-30-02, 08:24 PM
bigjohn
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Sounds good! I have to get off to bed. I'll check in tomorrow morning before I go to work to see how you made out.
 
  #22  
Old 07-31-02, 04:53 AM
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I can't stand the suspense... What's going on now?
 
  #23  
Old 07-31-02, 05:12 AM
ldefrenne
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It's been running all night!!!! Still going. Brrrrr! It's colllllld in here! How 'bout that.

Wonder if I can fix this thing. Probably not. Maybe I'll do Ebay. Gee. If this 'stat failed.... how long are these babies supposed to last for? I'm dissapointed with the performance. Will call Honeywell today and see if this is under warranty. Doubt it. I assume Honeywell is a decent brand. Seems pretty popular. They have some more expensive types on Ebay that have a blue lighted LCD screen. Unless that is able to be turned on only when I want it - I don't think a blue glow on my living room wall is going to work for me. These things are intrusive as it is.

Well isn't this all very interesting.

Lisa
 
  #24  
Old 07-31-02, 05:14 AM
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Sounds like you are on the road to recovery. Good Luck!
 
  #25  
Old 07-31-02, 08:24 AM
bigjohn
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Both Honeywell and White-Rodgers are good brands. I don't really have a recommendation for a new programmable. Avoid the cheaper ones, the ones with batteries and the power stealing models. If you decide to back with a mercury bulb type, make sure it's level. Most important is to ensure that you get the right color wires back on the proper terminals. IOW- the wire from R on the old goes to R on the new and so on down the line. I'm glad we we were able to figure it out. Thanks.
 
  #26  
Old 07-31-02, 08:32 AM
ldefrenne
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Is it at all possible something happened at the area where the wires of the 'stat attach to the furnace? Or is it solely definitely my 'stat unit itself because of this test?

About how long do these things last? I'm kind of surprised it failed, but they only have a 1 year warranty on them so I guess they aren't designed to last very long. Still - I can't imagine what happened to this.

EDIT: Actually, I'm not making sense. It would only be the 'stat itself because of how I have the wires tied together. I'm slow sometimes.

Thank you so much for all your help!!!!! Really! You must do this for a living! If so, you wouldn't happen to be in the Chicago area would you? I obviously don't have any leads on who to call in for these types of troubles. Besides spending the money to call in a repairman, I would have had to blindly pick one out of the phone book. Not something I like to do.
 
  #27  
Old 08-01-02, 02:35 PM
ldefrenne
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Update: Well, I'll be dam*ed. Don't know what possessed me to do this, but right before I was going to go to Home Depot to scout out thermostats, I decided to rewire/attach the thermostat. I turned on the furnace fully expecting it to immediately start blowing even w/the 'stat set to off. Nothing happened. I went upstairs and turned the stat to 'cool'. Pow! Immediately the fan came on just as it should. With trepidation, I turned it off. Yep - blower shut down. I was stunned because as you know, I haven't been able to turn the blower off for 3 days other than by cutting the power to the furnace.

I go outside, turn on the a/c. Turn the stat Fan to "auto" and "cool". Both systems fired right up.

The entire system is running absolutely perfectly. I even set up my weather sensor near it and the system is indeed cycling on & off to the exact degree of temp. I even warmed the area around the 'stat with a hairdryer to make sure, etc.

I'm absolutely completely befuddled. While very pleased at this bizarre development, I'm scratching my head here.

The only thing I can think of is the stat got confused or something and the unwiring/rewiring must have reset something inside it?

The stat is in a protected area and was not bumped/banged into. There are no kids here either that would have done anything to the unit. When I removed the wires from the stat to do the test they were not loose. They were actually difficult to remove.

Any ideas as to what magic happened here for me?
 
  #28  
Old 08-01-02, 03:29 PM
bigjohn
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Loose wires or bumping it etc., would not have caused the problems you experienced. My experience with programmables is that they'll do all kinds of goofy/kooky things. Maybe one of the wiring connections had some corrosion and, by taking it off, you removed the corrosion. I've had big commercial a/c units that contain several electronic boards go haywire and traced the problem down to a little corrosion on pin connectors. They operate on low dc voltages so just a little corrosion is enough to cause problems. Perhaps removing the power reset some programming that got jammed up Anyway, you had a good learning experience and, for now, it's working. It's anyones guess as to for how long. BTW- I've been to Chicago once which was a couple years ago on my way to Wisconsin to go to an ice machine school. I've been fixing a/c-refrigeration equipment for over 30 years and, most days, I still like it. These days, I'm working overseas in the Caribbean.
 
  #29  
Old 08-03-02, 05:24 AM
lynn comstock
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27 posts in 4 days. WOW.

The problem was caused by a completed circuit between the red (R) and Green (G) wires at the air handler or furnace. This is supposed to happen only through the stat. It can also happen
.....a) with a defective or damaged stat CABLE or
.....b) if the bared wires at the stat or furnace end of the cable happen to touch each other where they connect to a terminal board.

If the problem ever comes back let us know. (Your problem may have been fixed in rewiring the stat if it was b).
 
  #30  
Old 08-20-02, 07:39 PM
ldefrenne
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Well - It was fun while it lasted! Don't know what the A/C condenser is doing but the blower is running with the stat off again. LLLOOOLLLLL
 
  #31  
Old 08-20-02, 09:59 PM
lynn comstock
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If you can find the fan relay, try this:

Set the stat so the fan should be off. Bump or tap the fan relay. If you don't know what that is, just bump a corner of the furnace in the middle with the heel of your hand. If that makes it stop, your relay may be sticking or magnetized slightly.
 
 

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