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Residential A/C troubleshooting? #4460769
07/16/17 09:01 AM
07/16/17 09:01 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
I support individuals in a 3 bedroom ranch home. Last year I reported to my supervisor and manager that the A/C was not cycling off. Fast forward to this year. Still has the same problem. I was outside recently and noticed condenser cooling fins completely clogged with grass and debris. I hosed them off until clean. Some plants (weeds) where growing too close to unit and I pulled them. It was a cool night and A/C finally cycled off.

I got my manager involved. We looked at the evaporator. It was newish looking and water drain was clean. I thought the drain was clogged since water was not coming out of it. I am thinking it just is not pulling a lot of water out of the air since A/C is not cooling well. I replaced the cleanable filter with a new paper one. Temperature of air coming out of the vents before and after cleaning fins outside is 60 degrees.

Our agency maintenance depart said the A/C was working fine. I am pretty sure they did not put gauges on it. They said it was not cycling off since it was hot outside.

My manager is reaching out to the landord. I do not expect much. The landlord tends to be slow to repair or maintain things. His A/C unit running most of the day continuously could become a more expensive problem if not taken care of. There is a lot of extra wear and tear on everything, plus extra electricity wasted.

I am looking for information to provide my manager on troubleshooting the A/C. My manager is less than 1/2 my age and does not have a lot of experience or time. Most of my experience is maintaining a household A/C over 20 years that has a professional checks yearly. Thanks!


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4460786
07/16/17 09:13 AM
07/16/17 09:13 AM
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,138
NE,Ohio
Rand Offline
Rand  Offline
Joined: Aug 2003
Posts: 13,138
NE,Ohio
The 60F temp isnt important.. what is the temp differential.

IE how hot is the inside air... vs the cooled air.

17-20F difference is pretty good.

But high humidity or attic ducting can quickly lower the temperature difference.


2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk 2.0T
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4460803
07/16/17 09:34 AM
07/16/17 09:34 AM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,242
Texas
JustinH Offline
JustinH  Offline
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 5,242
Texas
Did you take a look at the fins on the condenser inside the air handler?

I'd suspect that it is filled with dust also and will need to be cleaned.

You can use Tuff stuff and a fin brush, and rinse it carefully, or you can use the expensive AC cleaner stuff.

Obviously not 24 hours a day, but it is not uncommon for a properly sized system to run constantly for a few hours during peak heat of the day.

Mine runs for a few hours continuously daily during the heat of the day, then shuts off and runs normal cycles to keep the temp low.


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Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: Rand] #4460811
07/16/17 09:39 AM
07/16/17 09:39 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
Originally Posted By: Rand
The 60F temp isnt important.. what is the temp differential.

IE how hot is the inside air... vs the cooled air.

17-20F difference is pretty good.

But high humidity or attic ducting can quickly lower the temperature difference.


All I know is air from vents is 60F no matter what outside temp. On a hot day you have to run several fans to keep comfortable. We set the thermostat at 72. When it is hot outside inside temps will increase even though the A/C is continuously running. At night it gets closer to 72. I leave at 11pm at night and it will still be running.


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: JustinH] #4460822
07/16/17 09:49 AM
07/16/17 09:49 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
Originally Posted By: JustinH
Did you take a look at the fins on the condenser inside the air handler?

I'd suspect that it is filled with dust also and will need to be cleaned.

You can use Tuff stuff and a fin brush, and rinse it carefully, or you can use the expensive AC cleaner stuff.

Obviously not 24 hours a day, but it is not uncommon for a properly sized system to run constantly for a few hours during peak heat of the day.

Mine runs for a few hours continuously daily during the heat of the day, then shuts off and runs normal cycles to keep the temp low.


I bought some of the expensive cleaner, but did not have access to the side that may be dirty. I did not want to do more harm than good. One of the residents has asthma. Did not want to spray chemicals, so I stopped there. At this point I have done all I can do. My shift is 3p-11p. A/C will run continuously the entire shift now that it is hot outside.


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4460846
07/16/17 10:17 AM
07/16/17 10:17 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,255
PV Az
AZjeff Online content
AZjeff  Online Content
Joined: Jan 2011
Posts: 3,255
PV Az
You didn't say what the inside temps are. 60 deg output is good if the inside temp is 85, not so good if the inside temp is 75 but not terrible. The air handler could be clogged or it could be the unit is just undersized. It sounds like you've done all you can but the air handler. A maintenance guy seeing 60 deg is going to say it's OK.


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Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: AZjeff] #4460857
07/16/17 10:31 AM
07/16/17 10:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
Originally Posted By: AZjeff
You didn't say what the inside temps are. 60 deg output is good if the inside temp is 85, not so good if the inside temp is 75 but not terrible. The air handler could be clogged or it could be the unit is just undersized. It sounds like you've done all you can but the air handler. A maintenance guy seeing 60 deg is going to say it's OK.


Thermostat will get to 74 when I arrive. If hot outside the inside temp is 75 or more. I am not sure since I work evening shift and am not there when it is 100 outside. Only late at night will it get closer to 72. The A/C unit is very small in size. I could see the property manager getting the cheapest unit. Where I live the A/C unit is twice the physical size and pretty much freezes you when running and cycles often.


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4460879
07/16/17 11:00 AM
07/16/17 11:00 AM
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 4,838
Central Texas
sleddriver Offline
sleddriver  Offline
Joined: Feb 2010
Posts: 4,838
Central Texas
When the condenser fins are clogged like that, it's not able to do its job which is to reject (transfer) heat to the atmosphere. As a result the head pressure increases, causing the compressor to work harder. This also results in diminished cooling capacity.

The evaporators job is to absorb heat from inside the structure and stay below the indoor dew point to remove moisture. It will not do either if IT is clogged.

To confirm, you need to get a look at the inlet face of the evaporator coil. You can rake the muck off with a stiff, bristle brush before using a coil cleaner. Be sure to use a non-acidic, indoor coil cleaner.


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Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: sleddriver] #4460905
07/16/17 11:21 AM
07/16/17 11:21 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
Originally Posted By: sleddriver
When the condenser fins are clogged like that, it's not able to do its job which is to reject (transfer) heat to the atmosphere. As a result the head pressure increases, causing the compressor to work harder. This also results in diminished cooling capacity.

The evaporators job is to absorb heat from inside the structure and stay below the indoor dew point to remove moisture. It will not do either if IT is clogged.

To confirm, you need to get a look at the inlet face of the evaporator coil. You can rake the muck off with a stiff, bristle brush before using a coil cleaner. Be sure to use a non-acidic, indoor coil cleaner.


It would be nice to clean the evaporator. I could not access the dirty side easily. I watched a lot of you tube videos and it looks like a Pro will need to remove it if it needs cleaning. When I am at work I am busy supporting people. I may have 5 minutes here and there to fix things. With the manager it was after a meeting on my own time removing the panel to get a look see. I could see the job was bigger than my skill level.

It is like the chicken and egg. The blower motor going 24/7 is going to potentially suck debris into the evaporator.

I had a Saturn with terrible A/C performance. It's evaporator was clogged and after cleaning it worked great. So I understand the concept, but house unit is harder to get to.


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4460908
07/16/17 11:27 AM
07/16/17 11:27 AM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,023
TX, USA
JMJNet Offline
JMJNet  Offline
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,023
TX, USA
On residential units, check if the running capacitor is up to the capacitance rating requirement.
Sometimes, capacitor does not bulge yet but it only has 1 to 2 uf.
There are usually 2 running capacitor, one for the condenser fan and one for the compressor.
Also, there is start capacitor also.
AC mechanics usually measure those when they do the yearly maintenance and also the pressure to make sure that there is no leaks.

The capacitor needs to be checked once a year at the beginning of the season which is usually spring, at least, that is my experience here in TX. Of course, cleaning will help maintained it.

Last edited by JMJNet; 07/16/17 11:28 AM.

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Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: JMJNet] #4460943
07/16/17 12:15 PM
07/16/17 12:15 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
Originally Posted By: JMJNet
On residential units, check if the running capacitor is up to the capacitance rating requirement.
Sometimes, capacitor does not bulge yet but it only has 1 to 2 uf.
There are usually 2 running capacitor, one for the condenser fan and one for the compressor.
Also, there is start capacitor also.
AC mechanics usually measure those when they do the yearly maintenance and also the pressure to make sure that there is no leaks.

The capacitor needs to be checked once a year at the beginning of the season which is usually spring, at least, that is my experience here in TX. Of course, cleaning will help maintained it.


The capacitor is a new one. I thought they just checked the pressure. I also read an under performing compressor could be the problem. Will report all the info given to my manager in a concise way. It looks like a pro who knows what he is doing is the ultimate answer. I can hose the condenser cooling fins monthly like I do at home.


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4461233
07/16/17 08:04 PM
07/16/17 08:04 PM
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 770
Northern Arizona
funflyer Offline
funflyer  Offline
Joined: Jun 2014
Posts: 770
Northern Arizona
Have the ducting inspected thoroughly. It's not uncommon for ducts to disconnect from the plenum or registers. I had a fresh air return duct slip halfway off the grill in my attic when the house was only 5 years old. It had a 3" gap which was drawing in hot attic air and causing a significant drop in output air temp. I also had to replace several sections of duct insulation after the outer plastic dried out and split open exposing the ducts.


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Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4461608
07/17/17 09:29 AM
07/17/17 09:29 AM
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,027
Canuck living in California
KrisZ Online content
KrisZ  Online Content
Joined: Dec 2006
Posts: 8,027
Canuck living in California
If the unit is so dirty, but can still maintain 74-75F temps inside, then I don't see a reason to replace or that it is faulty. Just to clarify, is that the hottest it gets inside?

In any case, The unit and the area around it needs to be properly cleaned up. If the system is still underpinning after that, an HVAC pro needs to diagnose the system.


2015 Dodge Grand Caravan-27k miles.
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Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: MONKEYMAN] #4461619
07/17/17 09:41 AM
07/17/17 09:41 AM
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 5,951
Illinois
SHOZ Offline
SHOZ  Offline
Joined: Jun 2003
Posts: 5,951
Illinois
They make wands that spray water or air at a near 90* angle for flushing/cleaning hard to get to evaporators and condensers.


2008 Hyundai Accent 1.6L 5 sp manual hatchback
2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe Track 2L Turbo 6sp manual
Re: Residential A/C troubleshooting? [Re: KrisZ] #4464312
07/19/17 06:38 PM
07/19/17 06:38 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
MONKEYMAN Online content OP
MONKEYMAN  Online Content OP
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 2,474
St. Louis
Originally Posted By: KrisZ
If the unit is so dirty, but can still maintain 74-75F temps inside, then I don't see a reason to replace or that it is faulty. Just to clarify, is that the hottest it gets inside?

In any case, The unit and the area around it needs to be properly cleaned up. If the system is still underpinning after that, an HVAC pro needs to diagnose the system.


So Sunday it was 73 at times. If you opened the door briefly it would go to 74. With 4 fans running it was OK. The back bedrooms were hotter, but made sure ceiling fans were working. I did notice the condenser cooling fins were getting full of grass clipping, so hosed them out again. Temp at vents was 60 or a little higher when testing. Outside temps was 92 when I arrived. A/C ran 8 hours straight. When I finished shift at 11pm thermostat said 72. This week we have 4 days in a row of over 100 degrees. Not sure how it will do and my Manager just went on vacation the rest of the week. It seems an HVAC pro needs to diagnose the system. I did all I can do to make that happen at this point.


Truth alone triumphs, not untruth.

2017 Elantra SE
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