DIY Air Conditioner Repair
Big Cheese

DIY Air Conditioner Repair

How to Check your Air Conditioner

The worst time for an air conditioner to quit working is anytime! If you don’t mind waiting and have the cash to spare, call a pro. Otherwise, you might want to try troubleshooting it first to see if it’s something that you can fix faster and for far less money.

Signs that you may need a new HVAC fan motor:

  • Low or no airflow
  • Weird sounds when you turn on the heat or air
  • Excessive blower motor heat
  • Burning smell coming from your vents
  • Higher than usual energy bills without extra usage
  • The fan doesn’t stop when off or start when it’s on

Frequent blower motor failure could jack up your repair costs over time; but replacing the motor should help extend the lifespan of your HVAC or furnace system.

Plus, who wants their HVAC system breaking down all the time?

The key is choosing a motor brand recognized for its superior construction and product capability.

And, while we're on the subject, there are a few different names people use when talking about the motor. You may see HVAC motor, fan motor, condenser motor, blower motor, fan blower, air handler, condenser fan motor and more.

Here is a list of items that (hopefully) will help you repair the air conditioner yourself.
If air is hardly blowing or is not cold:
  • Check that the condenser box outside is not blocked by leaves or debris
  • Make sure that all the registers in the house are open.
  • Check the furnace filter and all the filters in the house vents – a clogged filter will hinder cooling.
  • If it still isn’t working properly, clean the condenser unit. First, turn off the power at your breaker box, at the furnace or air handler, and yank the disconnect block (located in the power box by the outside condenser unit. When the power is completely cut, unscrew and remove the top grill and place aside without stretching the wires. Use a hose to shoot water from the inside out to clean the vents.
If the condenser unit is not running:
  • Replace the capacitor, which is a relatively cheap part that stores electricity (basically, a battery), and should be replaced every 4-5 years as part of your routine maintenance. Take a picture of the wires for reconnection reference if needed. Discharge stored energy by touching an insulated screwdriver between the “H” and “C” terminals, then between the “F” and “C” terminals. Use needle nose pliers to disconnect the wires and connect them to the new capacitor; reinstall and tie down the wires with zip ties.
  • If a have a multimeter, check the fuses in the disconnect block by setting the meter to the lowest Ohms and touching the red and black terminals to opposite ends of the fuse. If you get any readings (other than zero) then the fuse is fine.
  • Replace the contactor, which is a relay that takes in 110 Volt from the thermostat and sends out 220 Volt power to the compressor. Again, this part is relatively cheap, and should be replaced every 4-5 years.
If you have done all or some of these steps and the unit still will not run, you may need a new condenser fan motor, the last part that a DIYer can handle.
Buying the exact motor from the manufacturer will be pricey, but there are many quality universal replacement units (OEM replacement motors) that are just as good at a fraction of the price. Contact Square One and we will help you find a direct brand replacement.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace an HVAC Motor

The big question we get from homeowners is, “How much will it cost to replace my condenser fan motor?” And the answer is, “It depends.”

In general, for the most common brands and sizes, you’re looking at $200-$400 for the motor. Of course, that also assumes that you are buying it direct from a distributor like Square One and not through a contractor.

Anything outside of the motor, like paying someone to install it, is extra. If you are paying an HVAC contractor to do the whole job, the average fee may range between $400-$600 for parts and labor.

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