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  1. #1

    Compressor Wiring Shorting To Ground?

    Hi All: Last week here in Denver, my house experienced two brownouts of about one second each within about ten seconds of each other. I didn't think much of it until a few hours later when I realized that it was getting hot in the house. I checked the supply air and, gulp, it wasn't cool. Ran downstairs and the temp on the thermostat was 80 and the fan was running. Went outside and the fan on the compressor wasn't spinning and it was making a screeching noise.

    Ran back inside and turned off the A/C. Ran back outside and turned the breaker off.

    Had a tech come out yesterday, and he reported that the compressor wiring was shorting to ground and would need to be replaced.

    So, my questions:

    1) Can a brownout cause this damage, or did it just happen to fail at that exact time?

    2) He gave me an estimate to replace the compressor, which gave me sticker shock. I see that pricing is not to be discussed here, but I'd really like to know what the ballpark should be.

    Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Arapahoe County, Colorado
    Posts
    188
    Call around and get a few more estimates then compare the bids. As far as I know, even "ballpark" pricing isn't allowed.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Refer-Madness View Post
    Call around and get a few more estimates then compare the bids. As far as I know, even "ballpark" pricing isn't allowed.
    That is the plan, yes. I'd like to get at least four bids. Can you or anyone else recommend HVAC firms in the Denver-area (Highlands Ranch, specifically)?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    12
    I think the better question is did the compressor grounding cause the brownouts. If it was only your house that experienced the brownouts then it was probably the compressor drawing massive current as it grounded. Compressor change out is very expensive and if done wrong can lead to compressor failure again in a few months. Good luck!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by chayced View Post
    I think the better question is did the compressor grounding cause the brownouts. If it was only your house that experienced the brownouts then it was probably the compressor drawing massive current as it grounded. Compressor change out is very expensive and if done wrong can lead to compressor failure again in a few months. Good luck!
    No, it wasn't just my house. Xcel had a transformer catch on fire in the neighborhood. I called them and they acknowledged their problem. I hope to be able to claim the replacement through them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    243
    Most of the time, you are better off replacing the entire outside unit. That way you have all new parts at least "outside". Just replacing the compressor you usually get only a one year warranty on just the compressor. If you replace the complete unit, you get approx. 5 - 10 year warranty on parts depending on the brand of unit. Be sure whoever you get to do the replacement really does a good job cleaning up the refigerant lines and installs filter driers on both suction and liquid lines. Proper cleanup on a burnout like this is crucial.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Chapel Hill, NC
    Posts
    1,070
    A brownout wouldn't cause this. But electrical faults like this could have originated from a surge which could cause a short to ground. On balance though, I think the two are probably unrelated (unfortunately).

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    TIP-O-TX
    Posts
    278

    DITTO

    Quote Originally Posted by gasser65 View Post
    Most of the time, you are better off replacing the entire outside unit. That way you have all new parts at least "outside". Just replacing the compressor you usually get only a one year warranty on just the compressor. If you replace the complete unit, you get approx. 5 - 10 year warranty on parts depending on the brand of unit. Be sure whoever you get to do the replacement really does a good job cleaning up the refigerant lines and installs filter driers on both suction and liquid lines. Proper cleanup on a burnout like this is crucial.
    I had a customer reimbursed by pwr co for a cond replacement and some electronics but it was a blown transformer near his house.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Central Texas
    Posts
    47
    Why did the fan stop running? Was it because of a low voltage caused by the short? Or did a dead fan motor cause the compressor to overheat. You might want to invest in a second opinion before condemning the equipment.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
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    Here. I'm right here i tell you!
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    Smile

    SOme brands have a no fault warranty that if you replace the indoor coil also they will replace the entire condensing unit if the compressor fails under warranty. I know nordyne does this. I have put in a few of their units and they did real good. Not bad for the money. Plus you are better off replacing the coil also since its never good to mix match. Always wondered why people used Aspen coils since they don't make entire systems. Or even worse ,,, Summit. Keep it all the same Mfg and it will be alot better in the long run. Check on the no fault replacement warranty.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Windsor Mill, Maryland.
    Posts
    158
    A brownout is a temporary interruption of power service in which the electric power is reduced, rather than being cut as is the case with a blackout. Lights may flicker and dim during a brownout, and the event also often wreaks havoc with electrical appliances such as computers. One could consider a brownout the opposite of a power surge, an electrical event in which a sudden burst of power enters the system.

    There are a wide ranges of causes for brownouts. Just like blackouts, overloads on the electrical system can trigger a brownout, as the generating facility is unable to provide enough power. It can also occur when events such as storms disrupt the distribution grid, or when there are other problems in the system. Brownouts can last for a few seconds or a few hours, depending on the type of brownout and how quickly a power utility can get full power running again. This condition can cause compressor damage in HVAC systems.
    Last edited by Ti Llaves; 07-29-2009 at 08:19 PM. Reason: Corrections.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Pan Handle, Fl
    Posts
    600
    Quote Originally Posted by glockdoc View Post
    Why did the fan stop running? Was it because of a low voltage caused by the short? Or did a dead fan motor cause the compressor to overheat. You might want to invest in a second opinion before condemning the equipment.
    I'm with Gdoc, if the fan is not turning that compressor is going to scream. Rapid changes in power will smoke a capacitor in a heart beat. Since u are getting other quotes have them verify that the compressor is in fact shorted. Most of the compressors I have found shorted to ground trip the breaker faster than you can reset it. Good luck.
    Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome!

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Willserve View Post
    I'm with Gdoc, if the fan is not turning that compressor is going to scream. Rapid changes in power will smoke a capacitor in a heart beat. Since u are getting other quotes have them verify that the compressor is in fact shorted. Most of the compressors I have found shorted to ground trip the breaker faster than you can reset it. Good luck.
    Yes, if I turn the breaker back on, it trips almost instantly.

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