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  1. #1

    Question about bad compressor

    Okay here's what I've got. So we bought our house about 8 years ago. We moved to CO and rented the house for the last four years. We moved back into the house in May. After a few months I started to notice the lights would flicker every once and a while. So we made it through the summer. Then within the last month or two the light flickering was starting to get really bad.

    So about three weeks ago I realized that the emergency heat was on so I checked the breaker and it was tripped for the heat pump. A couple of days later I noticed it was again on emergency heat. Check the breaker and it's popped again. So I had called the power company about the light flickering issue and scheduled an appointment for them to come out and make sure that the power to the house was good.

    So the morning of the appointment noticed the breaker was tripped again. So I tried to flip the breaker and I started hearing some arcing and popping at the power pole when I would try and reset the breaker and the breaker would spark and trip the second I flipped the breaker.

    So called the power company to get emergency service because of the popping at the transformer. They sent a two man team out and the power guy told me the arcing was back feed from the house and I would need an electrician to take a look. They did replace the leads to the power pole to see if that helped the light flickering problem. So had a buddy of mine look at the AC unit and he confirmed that the compressor was bad.

    So fast forward a few days and the light flickering got worse to where whole circuits in the house would just randomly power off or have the lights get really really dim. So called the electrician to try and figure out the problem. They came out Tuesday and off course the light and power issue wouldn't rear it's ugly head. So with out a problem to find they could do anything since all the voltages were good and everything looked right in the breaker boxes.

    So that night the lights went all hay wire again. So I did some voltage checks while the problem was present and notice that one leg of the power was at only 86VAC and the other was at 120VAC. So I shut off all the breakers on the 86VAC leg and the voltage stayed the same. SO I called the power company again.

    I know this is getting long but I'm almost to the really question.

    The power company showed up at 1am and they checked the power again. They replaced one of the leads the other team replaced two weeks ago. They weren't happy with the job the previous crew did either. So they replaced the first lead and plugged the meter back into the house and the guy in the bucket told the other guy to pull the meter back out cause there was arcing from the second lead. At one point the checked the lead and got 86VAC and then it jumped back up to 120VAC. So they replaced the second lead and did it right. When the meter got plugged back in all the lights in the house immediate turned on the way they should.

    Since they fixed the leads the second time the lights have not flickered at all. So my question is would the AC trying to run on power that was bad. 120VAC and 86VAC at times cause the compressor to burn up. I ask because if it was a bad power issue I want to go after the power company for the repair cost. Any information would be greatly appreciated.

    Again sorry for being so long winded but wanted to give as much back story as possible.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Posts
    1,286
    install voltage monitor at CU. cuts comp off if bad voltage.
    Sue power company. Good luck. Insurance claim better.


    Your right, this is way too long.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    2,650
    You need to understand as your compressor was starting it's journey to the other side it was pulling a lot of amps on start up causing your lights to dim. That is when you should have called the ac guy. Then as your compressor started to ground out it really was causing damage to the fusible link in the city feed to your house. That is why they use fusible links. Your voltage dropped because of a fusible link which protects the main electrical line so when your house has a problem it doesn't affect the whole neiborhood. In retrospect they could sue you instead of the other way around. I'm sure the electric company's employee was just a bit overzealous and nervous about your line of questioning, nothing worse than a layman trying to blame the someone for their lack of maintenance on electrical devises.
    My name is TooCoolforschool and I am a chronic over charger.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,327
    So...the question is did the compressor stress the power company's equipment or was it the other way around? Tough call. My experience would lean toward the compressor itself starting all the problems. The house was a rental for 4 years; renters are typically not all that diligent about HVAC maintenance. Dirty filters and heat pumps do not get along any better than dirty filters on straight a/c...in fact it can make things worse, since the heat pump compressor runs year round.

    Also, next time a breaker in your house pops or arcs, DO NOT RESET IT!!!! Step away from it and call an electrician immediately!
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by toocoolforschool View Post
    You need to understand as your compressor was starting it's journey to the other side it was pulling a lot of amps on start up causing your lights to dim. That is when you should have called the ac guy. Then as your compressor started to ground out it really was causing damage to the fusible link in the city feed to your house. That is why they use fusible links. Your voltage dropped because of a fusible link which protects the main electrical line so when your house has a problem it doesn't affect the whole neiborhood. In retrospect they could sue you instead of the other way around. I'm sure the electric company's employee was just a bit overzealous and nervous about your line of questioning, nothing worse than a layman trying to blame the someone for their lack of maintenance on electrical devises.
    So what's the point of the circuit breaker on the house then. If it started pulling that many amps to start burning up a fusible link on the power line that I'm sure has to be rated just as high as the main circuit breaker on the house. The circuit breaker in the panel popped like it was supposed to. I could see this logic if the circuit breaker shorted and allowed the compressor to ground out then it might pull the juice needed to start destroying a fusible link.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    2,650
    You probably have the wrong rating on the breaker, that being said there are no gauraties a breaker will pop, but yor did several times. Refer to shophounds' post. Your chances of gettin paid are unlikely, this is typical landlord mentality. i deal with it all the time.
    My name is TooCoolforschool and I am a chronic over charger.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,327
    If it was a Federal Pacific (FPE) breaker, that might explain a lot!
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Mount Holly, NC
    Posts
    3,131
    the purpose of a breaker is to prevent a FIRE on an overloaded circuit.
    IF you had called an electrician/HVAC tech out the FIRST TIME IT TRIPPED likely your compressor would not have failed.
    there is NO FREAKING WAY a compressor damaged a line drop from a transformer, or would cause a pole transformer to begin sparking/buzzing!
    NONE!
    but what damaged your compressor is the REPEATED resetting of the breakers.
    here is what I told MY SISTER to do when her circuit breaker tripped.
    she was asking me how to turn it back on. I told her to wait until tonight when I can come and check it.
    she pestered me, and insisted I explain to her how to reset it.

    I told her to put on an oven mitt, and stand as far to the right of the panel as possible, and hold a frying pan lid over her face and then to reset the breaker.
    firstly she asked me why I would stand to the right...
    I explained to her, that I am right handed, and losing the left arm would be less of a problem than the right...
    she said for me to come check it out when I had time...

    Quote Originally Posted by venom2124 View Post
    So what's the point of the circuit breaker on the house then. If it started pulling that many amps to start burning up a fusible link on the power line that I'm sure has to be rated just as high as the main circuit breaker on the house. The circuit breaker in the panel popped like it was supposed to. I could see this logic if the circuit breaker shorted and allowed the compressor to ground out then it might pull the juice needed to start destroying a fusible link.
    The TRUE highest cost system is the system not installed properly...
    The three big summer hearththrobs...
    Mel Gibson
    Dwane Johnson
    The A/C repairman

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    2,650
    A direct short to ground can effect line voltage to a house, by that I mean if the safeties did not trip then the fusible link might unfuse causing line voltage problems, in this case the homeowner kept reseting a grounded compressor probably reaking havok on line voltage, who knows a storm might have caused line voltage probs, in any case homeowner should have reached out for pro help once breaker began tripping.
    My name is TooCoolforschool and I am a chronic over charger.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Missouri
    Posts
    3,504
    Agree with most other posters, you've created this problem by ignoring the tripped breaker cause and repeatedly attempting to reset it. More than likely there has been a problem developing with your condensing unit since you admit "flickering" lights for months. Since you ignored the problem and continued to reset breaker you're now faced with an expensive repair. Pay for the repair/replacment and put this system on a prepaid maintenance plan with a competent company. Good luck.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Southeastern Pa
    Posts
    18,390
    I agree.

    You should be paying the power company for their repair because you screwed up their leads with your bad compressor that your refused have looked at by a professional.

    Consider yourself lucky they didn't hand you a bill.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    New York, ny
    Posts
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by vstech View Post

    I told her to put on an oven mitt, and stand as far to the right of the panel as possible, and hold a frying pan lid over her face and then to reset the breaker.
    firstly she asked me why I would stand to the right...
    I explained to her, that I am right handed, and losing the left arm would be less of a problem than the right...
    she said for me to come check it out when I had time...
    Holy molly I haven't laughed that much before..

    Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk 2

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Cincinnati, Oh
    Posts
    5,014
    great news for ya:

    You caused damage to your drop, and you should be happy that they didn't hand you a bill.

    Even IF it was the only way around, good luck with that.
    "Better tell the sandman to stay away, because we're gonna be workin on this one all night."

    "Dude, you need more than 2 wires to a condenser to run a 2 stage heatpump."

    "Just get it done son."

    Dad adjusted

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