Thursday, June 13, 2013

Fix your Home A/C for $35.00, Bad Motor Run Capacitor

Hi All,

It happened again! My home air conditioning stopped working at 4:00am last night in the middle of one of the hottest summers in the desert Southwest! I had visions of $300 - $500 repair bills dancing in my head. The first time my A/C stopped working was due to bad bearings in the condenser fan motor. I figures this out by listening to what I couldn't hear and it was the fan motor turning on. The symptom was the A/C starting and then stopping.

Last night the A/C was running but was luke warm at best. I once again went out to the condenser and listened to what I couldn’t hear and it was the loud refrigerator noise that comes from the compressor/condenser. I did a quick google search and found a forum that talked about a bad motor run capacitor for the condenser. I took the cover off of the condenser motor/fan unit located outdoors and started looking for the capacitor. I of course pulled the quick disconnect power plug that runs four lines of 125VAC to the unit and verified with my voltmeter that I had zero voltage at the four lines. Here is a picture of the capacitor as it looked in the unit.

Bad Motor Run Capacitor for a Heil A/C Condenser

I also built and repaired a lot of computers in the past and one of the most common motherboard failures is a blown capacitor or two. Corrosion and a bulged top are dead give-aways to a bad capacitor. I must admit that I almost gave up and called a repair person but I started going through troubleshooting and my thinking was that the freon leaked out but I didn't think that was likely since the A/C was just working last night. The fear of a $500 repair bill forced me into doing more google research. A big thank you to the local Summit Electric who were able to locate me a replacement capacitor! Here is a picture of the old capacitor compared to the new capacitor.

New Capacitor compared to the old Capacitor.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How to Repair your A/C on your Subaru Impreza 2002

Hi All,

I just repaired my air conditioner, A/C, on my 2002 Subaru Impreza Outback Sport for $5 plus freon for a total of $30. I read a few other articles about how robust most A/C system are and that the problem is usually a leaking o-ring at either one of the compressor fittings. I was able to purchase a universal A/C o-ring kit at the local Autozone for $5 and then a new bottle of R134A. I already had the hose with gauge on it so I was able to save a few dollars on a bottle of freon without the hose. Here is a picture of my A/C and where the two fittings are located.

2002 Subaru Impreza A/C Compressor

Subaru High Side A/C fitting

Subaru Impreza A/C Fitting- Low

First things first, I knew my A/C was empty because I charged it last summer and it was down to nothing. I also attached my freon can with hose to take a reading and it showed the goose egg for pressure. I carefully proceeded to remove the first fitting on top of my compressor. As soon as the fitting was loose I knew that one was my culprit. The fitting fit the housing very loosely which is a sign of the o-ring not doing its job. Here is a nice close-up picture of the old o-rings with the new o-rings to see the difference. The old o-rings dried up, shrunk, and turned to a hard plastic.

Subaru A/C O-rings, Old versus New (green)

The A/C now works good. I think it works a little weird but I believe it is because I needed to vacuum evacuate the system before filling it. There are probably a few air bubbles in there but it works great for me and only cost $30. I read that a shop can re-evacuate and refill for $100. I am good with how it works right now for my 11 year old car.