I would start by checking the wires leading down to the compressor, and all of the high voltage connections in the outdoor unit control box. You want to look for anything that is obviously burnt or shorted to any metal (cabinet or copper tubing)
Will do this evening inside at the compressor
I took the access panel off that allows me to see the board, capacitor, contactor and all wiring leading into the inside area and everything looks good. Contacts look clean and unburnt - not sure about capacitor - it looks a bit rusted and has some oil on the outside My volt/ohm meter is busted - I will get one tonight after work. But all wires in the control area within the outside access panel look good
Ok sounds good, just take a real close look at the wires leading down to the compressor itself. A little rust on the capacitor is usually not that big a deal. Sound to me like there is a short in the compressor itself. To test compressor, put meter to ohms, put one lead to a compressor terminal and the other to a ground, (any metal will do) to see if it is shorted to ground. Let me know and we can go forward at that point.
Also the full model and serial numbers would be helpful as well to look up the specs. for your specific unit.
When is the breaker tripping? Is the heat pump calling for heat or just sitting idle?
Just sitting idle - yesterday was a nice day in my area - nothing was on - heat set low to 65 and it was a 70 degree day, so nothing came on. When I reset the breaker it takes about 2-3 seconds to hear "rumbling" (my word) in the breaker box and then the breaker trips within another second.
My second unit works fine - its a smaller Bryant unit
Thanks for looking at my profile. I hope I can be of service.
In those cases its usually a very stuck or partially grounded compressor... a completely shorted to compressor will trip the breaker instantly.
If you have an ohm meter and are good with it... do this:
Kill the power to the unit, verify its OFF, then pull the three wires off of the compressor, mark them C, S. R same as on the compressor... this is important.
then use the ohm meter to check resistance to ground...if you get no resistance to ground from any of those that compressor is toast.
then pull a cap off of the refrigerant charging port, depress the schraeder valve core and sniff the gas that comes out...if its acidic/ burnt smelling you are in trouble...time to buy a whole new unit and have it installed to get rid of any contaminants.
If it sniffs clean, the compressor can be replaced....but I don't recommend it if the unit is over 5 years old... the new ones are better, cheaper and the utility company will often pay half of the cost of upgrading it.
I hope that helps,
Ok, well there are only 2 parts left in your machine....the compressor and the crankcase heater. By what your symptoms are I would first try to disconnect the crankcase heater and see what it does. If the breaker still trips then the compressor is most likely the cause.
To disconnect the crankcase heater remove the red(or or black) wire from the L1 terminal on the contactor and remove the red (or black) wire from the T1 terminal of the contactor. Note these may be marked 11 and 21 also, but they will lead directly to the crankcase heater at the bottom of the compressor.
Be sure to tape off these wires before trying to restore power. The side of the contactor you are looking for has the plunger on it. Let me know what you find out.
Sorry I didnt get back to you yesterday - long work day
I didnt get a new meter yet - will do that this evening. I did however have my wife hit the breaker while I stayed close to the unit to see what was transpiring. All wires look good to all parts of the unit. When she reset the breaker the compressor hummed and the fan began to turn, but very slowly. This went on for about 10 seconds this time and then the breaker tripped. We did it again and almost the same thing happened. The compressor felt a bit warm
I will use the meter tonight as you suggested testing the wires and get back to you, I will also inspect the refrigant for smell and other.
Unit is going on its 4th year, and I believe it sat idle for almost a year from late 08 to late 09 when I bought the house (Dec 09 - it was a short sale and the house had not had occupants for about 1 1/2 years)
Ok, from what you are telling me, the compressor has locked up for some reason and cannot start. That is basically the only thing left that can draw enough power to cause the breaker to trip. If anything was shorted to ground the breaker would trip right away and not wait 10 sec. or so.
That compressor would still be under parts warranty so that will help with the cost.
Sorry about the bad news, but you are most likely going to have to call somebody in to replace the compressor for you.
I also DO NOT recommend smelling the refrigerant for safety and regulatory reasons.
If you should have any more questions, please let me know.