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I believe my contactor may be broken. I can push it down and…

Customer Question
I believe my contactor may...
I believe my contactor may be broken. I can push it down and the fan will come on but I can't get it to stick. Is there a quick solution to this or a band aid fix until Home Depot opens or my A/C repair person gets here?
Submitted: 8 years ago.Category: HVAC
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
6/27/2010
HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago
Mr. Jeff Pearson
Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 155
Experience: 25 years as Refrigeration Contractor,
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Mr. Jeff Pearson :

Hi, I understand the problem you are having. Are you sure the contactor is bad? Is it getting voltage to the coil?

Customer:

It has to be getting voltage because it comes on when I press it, . . . . right?

Customer:

First, I believe the whole problem started because we had an air filter that needed to be changed. I just changed it and it was extremely dirty. The thermostat appears to be working because I connected the red and yellow wires and the outdoor unit did not come on.

Customer:

I have reset the thermostat filter 'option' and usually that will get the a/c to kick on but this time it did not.

Customer:

Hello?

Customer:

Jeff,

Customer:

That is not it. The filters are very simple, just throw them in the slot, I don't even see a sensor anywhere. I just took them out and replace them one more time though to make sure

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HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago
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HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

Please go to the place where you changed the air filter and check the access door you removed to change the filter. If it is not on correctly the system will not run.

 

I am betting that is the problem.

 

Thank you

Jeff Pearson

Mr. Jeff Pearson
Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 155
Experience: 25 years as Refrigeration Contractor,
Verified
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HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

There is a switch behind that door. It stops everything if the door is not on properly.

 

The power at the contacts of the contactor is full line voltage from your breaker panel.

The coil voltage that pulls in the contactor is 24 volt and comes from your furnace circuit board and stat.

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Jeff, are you talking about the outside unit? I just reattached the panel cover. The panel cover is bare bones on the inside. Unless there is a connection where the screws go in I don't see how it would control the contactor?

HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

 

 

OK . In order to help solve the problem lets do a test or two.

 

Can you go to the thermostat and set the fan switch to "RUN" and tell me if the indoor fan comes on.

 

No im talking about the indoor unit, isn't that where you changed the filter?

 



Edited by Mr. Jeff Pearson on 6/27/2010 at 1:24 AM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
The indoor fan, not even sure where that is, however it appears that air is moving up through the ventalation so I would imagine the fan is on.
HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

Ok then you may indeed have a bad contactor, it just seem too much of a coincidence that it happened to go bad at the same time you were changing the air filter.

 

Do you have a reset button on the thermostat?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Jeff,

With my lack of knowledge it does seem weird that the contactor would go at this time. Is the contactor bad because it won't stay 'locked in' As mentioned it does come on if I press it in.

Yes, I hit the reset button on the thermostat. That usually works but not this time.

 

If I 'jerry-rig' the contactor to stay 'on' will I be placing myself in more trouble?

HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

Have you hooked up the red and yellow wires in the past and caused the outdoor unit to turn on?

 

It depends on why the system is not running. When you push in the contactor does the outside fan start to run?



Edited by Mr. Jeff Pearson on 6/27/2010 at 1:32 AM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
No.
HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

What type of indoor air handling unit do you have, ie; furnace in basement? in attic?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago
Embarrassingly I think it is in our attic.
HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

You would need to check the coil terminals with a voltage tester and confirm that it has 24 volts going to it. Then if it is not pulling in it is bad.

 

That is the location of the air filter that the thermostat is telling you to replace. It may not let the system run because it has not been replaced. Even if you have filters inside your home, there could be one in the furnace or air handler that has become clogged and is preventing the system from running

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HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago
The furnace or air handler will probably be located very near the attic access door.
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HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago
If your system is a heat pump then you will have an air handler, if you heat your home with natural gas then it will be a furnace.
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

In the past it has always been the ones in the ceiling that I have replaced and then hit the reset button. I will try to look in the attic. Where would this filter be? Is it obvious?

 

I see the Carrier unit in my attic.

HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

the filter will be in the lower section of the furnace. The furnace may be laying sideways

so the bottom will be the end furthest from the flue exhaust pipe.

 

Now that I think about it, when you were touching wires together in the thermostat, did you touch that red wire to anything else? Even for a second? If you did you may have blown the fuse. It is also located in the furnace . You will be able to check it when you remove the filter access door. It is on a circuit board and looks like a car fuse. 3 amps

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Just looked at the unit upstairs. Did not see the fust but I will look for it. I don't recall touching the red wire to anything else. I assume I can pull the fuse upstairs to check it.

Also, the red 'pilot' light is on upstairs and it sounds like the unit is operating.

I don't have a filter to replace the existing one up there. I will have to look again and see exactly where it is.

HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

Yes you can just pull the fuse out and replace it. Did you see an air filter up there?

 

If you look at the circuit board up there, check out what color wires are screwed down to the "Y" terminal. If the fuse on the circuit board is good, if you touch a jumper wire between the "R" terminal and the "Y" terminal, the outdoor unit should come on. Allow enough time for the built in time delay, up to 5 or 6 minutes. You will have to hold in the saftey switch while you do this.



Edited by Mr. Jeff Pearson on 6/27/2010 at 2:06 AM EST
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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Sorry, just got down. I did not see any place for an air filter. I only removed the control panel though. The other panel was screwed down and I figured not to mess with it.

I did not see a fuse either. I drive an old BMW so I am use to a 'u' shaped fuse.

Yeah, I don't think I have a jumper wire to muster up.

You want me to look at the circuit board in the attic?

HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

 

Lets just go over the problem from the beginning, if you have time and are willing, I am too.

 

Lets start from the beginning, the whole thing started when the stat alerted you that the filter was clogged and that you need to replace it, correct? Did it shut down your system when the alert turned on?

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Customer reply replied 8 years ago

Jeff,

It is 2230 here. I stared at the attic unit for the last 10 minutes and I don't think I can fix this thing. Hot as shit here in Tampa but I think I am going to have to ride this thing out till tomorrow. I appreciate your help.

HVAC Technician: Mr. Jeff Pearson, Mechanical Engineering Technologist replied 8 years ago

I can relate . If you do jerry rig your contactor, make sure you keep an eye on it for a while. The main thing to watch for is that the outdoor fan motor remains running at all times. It may start to run when you first get it going but can shut off 10 minutes or 1 hour or ?? later after it gets hot. As long as that fan is running, you can not really mess anything up worse. Just shut off the power before you do any jerry rigging.

 

 

jp

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