Waste or mistakes never happen in a farm kitchen.....only future animal or plant food.

July 25, 2011

The day the A/C died

I don't know about where you live, but it's been HOT here.  I can't remember a day when it hasn't hit at least 100* in the shade.  There doesn't seem to be an end in sight either.  Amazingly, the animals seem to be taking it in stride.  Granted, they aren't doing anything but sleeping and lying in the shade, but none appear overly stressed.  I suspect the cool nights help.

I first noticed something was wrong when I was sitting at the computer and drips of sweat were running down my face.  The blower had been going since about 2PM that afternoon.  I wondered if it was having a hard time keeping up and went to check the thermostat.  It was 87* in the house and rising and 97* outside and cooling.  We normally keep the thermostat at 80* as we are stingy and I consider A/C a necessary evil to control humidity levels.  I don't like the shock of hot to cold when coming in from outside.  I have been known to put a blanket on while sitting under the fan.

We decided to check the attic for leaks in the duct work since the air coming out of the vents didn't seem to be very cold. Quite a few spots were found where the ducts hadn't be sealed but clamped with plastic ties.  We finally got a chance to use duct tape for ducts!  I was hoping that would had solved the problem, but it didn't.

The next morning I KNEW something was wrong when it had only cooled from 87* to 85* inside and it was in the low 70's outside.  We turned off the A/C, cracked the windows and turned the attic fan on.  We got it down to about 78* inside before we had to close up the house again.  It was comfortable, but sticky already and it was only going to get hotter.   Thinking repairing the A/C was going to be expensive and a long wait getting anyone to come out during a heat wave, I started researching window units.

After my head started spinning, I called a friend to pick her brain.  She used a window unit in combination with her attic fan to keep her much larger house less than insanely hot.  She had just picked up a second window unit that day for her bedroom.  We chatted for a while, then she gave me the number of a fellow who did repair work.  If he wasn't retired, that is.  I gave him a call, left a message and waited.

He came over at 9:30 that same night, opened up the small side panel and said it was the capacitor almost instantly.  He went searching through his truck for a replacement, but had used his last one of that particular model.  He went back home and came back with a replacement about 45 minutes later.  It was a used one and got the A/C working for about 2 minutes before that capacitor blew.  He got the fins straighten out while he was there as best he could with a little brush.

He came back with a new capacitor the next afternoon (he had another job already scheduled for that  morning and he had to refill his stock, including my part) and he replaced it and nothing happened.
I went inside to check the thermostat, it was set too high and wasn't triggered.  I reset it low and waited.  Wooomph!  The blower turned on and the air turn COLD coming out of the vent.  Woohoo!

Internal explosion causing top to bulge in capacitor
We learned:
  • How to identify a blown capacitor - a new capacitor has a flat top, it visually expands when it dies....that's how he was able to identify it so fast.
  • How to maintain my unit so it lasts a long time and runs as efficiently as possible - keep the fins CLEAN, turn unit off and hose down at least once/year.  I live on a dirt road, so more often wouldn't hurt.  Keep brush and weeds clear, air flow is crucial for life and cost efficiency of unit.  Protect from hail/ice damage, if possible.
  • We won't have to replace it for a very long time - it's a 96 unit and the compressor has already been replaced once.  Power outages are hard on the capacitor, but not much you can do about those.  He said he has a customer with a unit over 25 years old that is still going.  
  • We are blessed to have good friends and neighbors - not many people would come out after dark - twice and again the next day - and charge less than the cost of a cheapo window unit.

Homestead Barn Hop 
Simple Lives Thursday

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