Some people can fix their air conditioners. You probably can if you have decent DIY skills, but don’t hesitate to call professional air conditioning repair on Maui if you’re unsure.
Air conditioners, like any machine, fail at some point. Your initial plan when that happens is probably to call a repair guy. The problem is when an AC emergency occurs in summer. Because most technicians are preoccupied with broken cooling systems in summer, your request for repairs is stacked with several others sitting in a queue. The other problem is money. Some people just don’t like spending two hundred dollars or so to have their air conditioner fixed.
Can you work with electrical components? Do you know your way into an AC? Can you spend a few tens of dollars on parts? If so, then roll up your sleeves.
Keep replacement parts handy!
Contractors and capacitors are the usual culprits when air conditioners fail, but they’re cheap. If you’re running a unit that’s been around for more than 5 years, the contactors or capacitors can fail. However, it’s also possible that the condenser fan motor is broken. Typically, condenser fans cost around $150, so only buy a replacement when you’re sure it has indeed gone defective. You can buy these parts at an appliance or hardware store. Keep the model and a serial number of your AC at hand when buying specific parts.
Understand the anatomy of your central air conditioner on Maui.
Like we’ve said before, these machines that spew cool air into your home have three main components: a condensing unit, a compressor, and an evaporator coil. Inside these parts is the refrigerant, which expands and contracts, and such changes in the pressure of the refrigerant is what makes your AC work.
When you turn on your air conditioner, indoor air is sucked into the AC and passes over the evaporator coils. The coils absorb the heat. Or rather the refrigerant in the coil absorbs the heat. Your indoor air then loses heat and cools. This cooled air is blown by a fan back into your room. Then the refrigerant moves into the condensing unit, where another fan blows heat off of the hot condensing coil.
The condenser has three parts that you as a DIYer need to know. As you have probably noticed, the three parts have been mentioned: the contractor, start/run capacitors, and fan motor. The compressor is also found in the condensing unit, but you don’t need to worry about the compressor and the evaporator coil. If they fail, only a licensed HVAC technician on Maui can fix them.
All right, so you turned on your AC, but your room isn’t cooling. Meaning, your cooling machine isn’t working.
Your job as a DIYer begins!
First, you need to have the right tools: adjustable wrench, cordless drill, insulated screwdrivers, needle-nose pliers, nut driver, socket set, voltage tester, and a multimeter. Again, keep the replacement capacitor and contactor handy. You also need some compressed air and a couple of fuses.
Important Tip: Turn off the power before you dismantle your AC. Test the contractor with a voltage tester to make sure that no power is running within the system.
Clean the condenser coil.
Clogged condenser coils tax the compressor, which can overheat and stop functioning. You then experience inadequate cooling or no cooling at all.
You probably have cleaned the condenser recently, but check it again after a storm or gusty weather. Turn off your AC before you take the outdoor unit apart.
Cleaning the condenser coils don’t entail special training and equipment. A garden nozzle is usually enough to wash off muck around the coil and fins. If this doesn’t fix the problem, you need to check a few things. Make sure none of the registers in the house are blocked. Check if the furnace filter is fine. Blocked registers and clogged filters reduce airflow and reduced airflow causes frost buildup on the evaporator coil. Your home stops cooling sufficiently as a result.
Deice your evaporator coil.
If the registers and filters are fine, but your house is still uncomfortably warm, check the evaporator coil. If it’s covered in ice, you can deice the coil by turning the thermostat off and switching on the fan for at least half an hour. Keep the fan blowing until you notice a steady airflow through the registers. Turn your air conditioner back on and see if it’s working fine for the next 24 hours.
Check the fuses.
If cleaning the condenser coils, deicing the evaporator coils, and unblocking the vents don’t work, your next task is to test the fuses. Any air conditioning system will shut down when its fuse blows. Sometimes you may hear a noise from the outdoor component when the fuse blows. But any noise from the outdoor unit may signal a problem in the condenser. To be sure it’s actually a blown fuse that’s causing the problem, you will need to check it using a multimeter.
The fuses may be found in the disconnect blocks. Look for those gray boxes on the exterior wall near the outdoor unit of your AC system. When you open the covers, you will see the wires inside. Keep in mind that these are live wires, so proceed with extreme caution. Set your multimeter to zero. Direct the red and black leads to the ends of the fuse. A blown fuse gives a zero, negative, or infinity reading; otherwise, the fuse is good.
If you find two cartridge fuses in the disconnect blocks, test them both. Blown fuses should be replaced, but if the new fuses burn out again, call a professional air conditioning repair technician on Maui.
Replace the capacitors.
Start and run capacitors are devices that store energy, which your air conditioner needs when you start it up. Your unit requires most energy at startup, and the start capacitor provides an extra boost. On the other hand, the run capacitor keeps the system running consistently.
Like most parts of any appliance, the capacitors deteriorate over time. Slow deterioration is hard to notice. If your air conditioner has been around for about 5 years, its capacitors probably need replacement. The good news is that capacitors are really inexpensive.
When replacing a capacitor, familiarize the attachments of the wires before taking things apart. If you can’t rely on your memory, take a photo of the wires. The stored energy in the old capacitor must be discharged before disconnecting the wires. Pull the wires from the old capacitor and attach them to their designated tabs on the new capacitor. Ensure that the crimp connectors are fastened firmly on the tabs by wiggling them.
Change the contactor.
An AC contactor is a switch-like device that starts and stops the unit to stabilize the temperature inside your house. The thermostat communicates with this switch using a low-voltage power. Once activated, it lets electricity power the compressor and condenser fan. The same job causes these switches to wear out over time, and such wear is one of the common problems of air conditioners that have been in use for five years.
Contactors are cheap, and you can replace them if you have decent DIY skills. Unscrew the old contactor. Disconnect the wires. Reconnect the wires to the corresponding points of the new contactor.
Change the fan motor.
The fan motor is another component that can fail at some point. You don’t have to be a qualified technician to replace this part. Again, it’s important to turn off the power before dismantling anything.
The outdoor unit could be covered in dirt and debris, which you should remove first before you remove the grill. Vacuum the fins once you have removed the grill. Then remove dirt from the fins. In fact, you probably need to clean the outdoor unit with a garden nozzle.
Now, right under the fins is the air conditioner’s fan motor. Be careful when removing the fins; make sure you’re not pulling the wires with it. So once you’ve taken the fins out, you’ll find it easy to remove the fan motor. Slowly disconnect the wiring. Remove the fan and power wires. Remove the mounting bolts as well.
Reverse the procedure upon installation of the new fan motor. Attach the wires snugly, and fix the switches in place.
Once you’re done with any of these tasks, check your AC. If it’s working fine, monitor it for the next 24 hours. If nothing weird happens, you’re good. But if none of these solutions restore the functionality of your air conditioning system, call professional air conditioning repair on Maui. Schedule a free consultation by calling us at 808-244-0161.