How a search engine saved my air conditioner

Of course, that is only partially true.  The search engine really only saved me money from having to have a service technician come to my house to do a 10 minute repair.

“So what happened?” you might ask.  I was working in my office at home.  It seemed a bit warm, but it was 105°F/40.6°C outside.  It was when I walked past my thermostat and saw that it read 78°F/25.6°C that I was a bit concerned.  Typically, we keep it set to 74°F/23.3°C during the summer months.  It was too warm.  The internal fan was on, but the air circulating was ambient.  I went outside and the compressor/condenser had the fan on, but clearly the compressor was not functioning.  I despaired.  Fortunately, our house has 2 units: one for upstairs where we sleep, and one for downstairs where we eat and work.  The failed unit was for the downstairs.  Even seeing that it was 8:30PM, I began searching for repair professionals.  One even had hours until 10pm!  Nobody could see me until Friday, however.  The heat wave here in Texas was hitting everyone pretty hard.

I am not one to take this sort of thing lying down.  I started searching for “compressor doesn’t turn on” and other associated search terms, “fan turns on but compressor won’t turn on.”  What I found directed me to YouTube.

Replacing a Start Run Capacitor

How to fix your AC – Fan kicks on but Compressor Not Working – Replacing run start capacitor

I did some searching through DIY sites where contractors and professionals gave advice.  I learned about run capacitors and start capacitors.  On a high-powered unit like an air conditioner they serve to help give the motors a kick-start to get them working.  After watching the video, researching the prices for these parts, and the cost to have a professional come out and look at it, I figured it was worth $35 to try, even if it wasn’t the problem.

I am happy to say that this was exactly the problem.  I ordered the part from Grainger Industrial Supply, mostly because they were nearby and had the part in stock.  It turns out that Amazon also has these in stock in various sizes and styles.  I just didn’t want to wait another day (it’s August in Texas—don’t judge me).

The instructions in the first link (Replacing a Start Run Capacitor) were exactly what worked for me, down to the shape, size and style of the unit.  I’d run through the steps again, but the video made it very clear, even if the guy was nervous and called the capacitor a “compressor” or “condenser” erroneously a few times (he even laughs about it in the comments below the video).

Needless to say, I’m no expert at this.  I know enough to know how to search, what to search for, and how to safely experiment with electrical components.  Your mileage may vary, but I just saved $200.00 and another day of waiting and working in an uncomfortably warm office.