If you’re a DIY fan of home repair, you can try some of the basic fixes listed below. You can install a new fan motor, clean the condenser unit, check for a leak, and replace a capacitor. But if you don’t know anything about electrical systems, you may want to consult a professional. There are a few things that you should know before you tackle the bigger issues.
Installing a new fan motor
If your air conditioner’s fan is noisy or broken, you may need to install a new fan motor. To perform this task, turn the power to your air conditioner off at a disconnect box or circuit breaker. Then, locate the fan motor within the condenser unit. Remove the fan blade by unscrewing it from the motor shaft. You can adjust the fan blade by loosening the nuts holding it in place.
To diagnose if your fan is failing, first check if the rattling sound is due to debris inside the unit. If the noise is accompanied by a metallic sound, the bearings may be at fault. If the sound does not disappear after a serviceman inspects the unit, it is a sign of a faulty fan motor. Luckily, fan motors do not have an oil port, so it is more likely that the problem is due to sealed bearings.
Cleaning the condenser unit
When it comes to residential air conditioner repair, one of the most basic and necessary tasks is cleaning the condenser unit. To do this, simply turn off the electrical disconnect and remove the fan cage. Brush the fins with a soft brush, making sure to move in the same direction as the slots. Next, spray a heavy-duty household cleaner into the coils using a garden hose.
A dirty condenser unit can cause your air conditioner to use up to 40% more energy than a clean one. In addition to straining the rest of the internal parts of your air conditioner, a dirty condenser coil can harbor biological contaminants that eventually make their way into your home. To avoid these issues, keep the condenser coil clean and replace it regularly. Most manufacturers maintain downloadable manuals online.
Checking for a refrigerant leak
If your AC is not cooling as well as it once did, you may be dealing with a refrigerant leak. The refrigerant in your unit may have a strange smell or may even be corrosive. There are many reasons why you may be experiencing this problem, from excessive air bubbles to corrosion. If you are unable to identify the cause of the leak, you should consider calling a professional to do the work for you. A professional can determine whether you are just dealing with a leak, or if the problem is serious enough to warrant a replacement.
Leak detection instruments work best on large leaks, but if the leak is small, you can try using soapy water to check it. Otherwise, you can try using an electronic leak detector. You can purchase one from a home improvement store or online. Leak detection tools use a long nozzle with a sensitive tip. Once the sensor detects a leak, it reports it to the main electronic component. Try to move the probe in a turtle-like fashion, imitating the sound of a turtle. The nozzle will give a steady beep.
Replacing a capacitor
Replace the capacitor in a residential air conditioner. Replacing the capacitor is similar to replacing a battery. However, it requires a bit more skill than simply popping out the old one and replacing it with a new one. To replace the capacitor properly, you should have the right type and size and know the air conditioner’s model number. Luckily, there are many DIY resources to help you with the repair.
To replace the capacitor, first disconnect the power to the air conditioner. If there is a service panel for your air conditioning unit, this is where the capacitor is located. You can remove it by unscrewing four 5/16″ hex screws on the panel and removing it from the AC unit. Next, connect the wiring to the proper posts on the new capacitor. Connect the fan wire to “Fan,” the common wire to “C,” and the compressor wire to “Herm.” Once the wiring is complete, you can turn the power on to the unit by setting the circuit breaker or block fuse.
Checking for a broken compressor
There are three simple things you can do to determine if your air conditioner compressor is broken. First, shut off the power to the air conditioner and then look for burned marks, frayed wires, or a blown fuse. Next, remove the metal cover from the terminals of the air conditioner. Then, test the resistance of the wires with a multimeter. If they measure less than 30 ohms, the compressor is probably broken.
You may also notice abnormally warm air coming out of the air conditioner. While a broken compressor will prevent the air conditioning from working, it will also leak refrigerant, preventing the air conditioner from sending cool air through your home. You’ll notice that even at low temperatures, the air coming from the AC unit feels abnormally warm. This may be a sign that the compressor is failing.