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Old 03-21-2014, 12:34 AM   #1
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Basement AC not working. Compressors try to turn on but don't sound right.

Hi,

Please help if you can.

We have a 2006 National Tradewinds with a Coleman Mach Basement AC
It has 2 compressors and a heat pump.

We bought the rv a few months ago and have been living in it fulltime since January in Austin, TX. Lately we have been running the A/C a lot during the day since our cat and dogs are in it and when the temps are high enough we run the heat pump at night. It has been running without fail for the last month or so.

Today I noticed it wasn't running and checked the breakers under the bed and found the a/c breaker was tripped. I reset it and turned on the a/c. The fan came on and the compressors tried to come on one at a time but they didn't sound right and we didn't get any cool air. After a couple minutes they shut off. A few minutes later they tried to come on again.

Eventually one of these times the A/c did get up and running correctly and produced cold air. As the temps dropped tonight the A/C was off. I just went to try and turn it on again to run the heat pump tonight and it's back to doing the thing where it tries to turn on but doesn't sound right and then shuts off after a couple minutes.

We have been in this same park for 2 months and haven't had any power issues. We do have a permanently installed surge guard and it shows no problems. The inverter panel shows 50amp coming in.

I took the panel off the a/c electricals today and everything looked fine. Nothing looks burnt or loose. The starters look fine visually. The green LED is flashing slowly on the board and according to the diagram on the back of the board it is normal.

Tomorrow it gets hot again so I need to get this fixed.

If I can get the AC out can a residential AC guy fix this?
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Old 03-21-2014, 12:51 AM   #2
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Not an expert but

Sounds like your start capacitor has failed. Easy fix and not to expensive. I know the one on ours had failed at one time because the old one was in a box under the bed.

Here is a short video describing the part and replacement.


Lots of info on the Internet regarding your problem

Good luck!
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:04 AM   #3
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Would it still sound like it was trying to turn on even if the start capacitor failed?

There seems to be 5 capacitors in the ac panel. There are 2 large ones on the bottom right (Larger than a D cell battery. More like the size of a shot glass)

There are 3 smaller ones on the bottom left (similar to a d-cell battery)

I believe the start capacitors are the larger ones. Does that sound right?
Is there a way I can test them? I would rather not have to pay for a mobile service tech to replace a simple item. I have a digital mulitmeter but I am not an electronics person.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:18 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 00wabbit View Post
Would it still sound like it was trying to turn on even if the start capacitor failed?

There seems to be 5 capacitors in the ac panel. There are 2 large ones on the bottom right (Larger than a D cell battery. More like the size of a shot glass)

There are 3 smaller ones on the bottom left (similar to a d-cell battery)

I believe the start capacitors are the larger ones. Does that sound right?
Is there a way I can test them? I would rather not have to pay for a mobile service tech to replace a simple item. I have a digital mulitmeter but I am not an electronics person.
Capacitors are not expensive, but they aren't easily tested either. I'd just buy them and replace them. If it solves the problem, great. If not, you have new ones installed. If it runs ok once it gets going I think these are a prime candidate to be the problem.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:30 AM   #5
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When mine had the same symptoms, it was the fan starting capacitors. Mine had obviously over heated so they were easy t find.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:37 AM   #6
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Thanks so far for helping me out. After paying $400 to fix an awning motor I realized I could fix myself I would really rather not pay a tech if I don't have to.

Here are pics of my setup. coleman ac - Imgur There are 2 large capacitors on the right and 3 smaller on the left. 2 of the 3 on the left are black and have a little motor starter thing on them. I wonder if those 2 were replaced and the third wasn't. I also included the wiring diagram. I'm not great at this stuff but I can learn.

Which capacitors do you think are suspect? Do I need to short them or anything before removing them or can I just disconnect power and pull the plugs on them?

None of them show physical damage.

I'm sure the new neighbors think I'm crazy outside at 1:40am taking pictures.
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Old 03-21-2014, 05:35 AM   #7
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It is usually the hard start devices mounted on top of the capacitors that go on the basement air units. When they or the capacitors themselves fail you replace them as a set. A matched set for both compressors will run about $60.

Damage from brownouts and persistant low voltage is the most common cause of failure. The last time mine failed was several years ago because I finally installed a Hughs Autoformer to correct low voltage from brownouts which keeps the compressors and hard starts from running hot thereby extending their lifespans.
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Old 03-21-2014, 07:24 AM   #8
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As to one of your first questions, yes a residential AC service tech can work on the unit but they usually want you to remove it. That's not a really big deal, there is instructions posted on the forums on how to remove it. I think it was posted by Duner. I removed mine in a couple of hours.

Otherwise good advice was given above
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:06 AM   #9
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A couple of questions I need answers to.

1. Looking at the pictures above I posted which of the 5 capacitors do I remove/replace, or do I replace all 5

2. When removing the capacitors do I need to short across the leads to discharge them or can I just unplug them and remove them?
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:20 AM   #10
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To be honest, if you can't handle 120V electricity or read a meter or follow a wiring diagram, you need someone to do this for you.
It may be easy once it's taught to you, but that's why we teach.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wizard View Post
As to one of your first questions, yes a residential AC service tech can work on the unit but they usually want you to remove it. That's not a really big deal, there is instructions posted on the forums on how to remove it. I think it was posted by Duner. I removed mine in a couple of hours.

Otherwise good advice was given above
X2. Remove unit and set on sawhorses/stand. This is a two man job. Cables should be long enough so you can operate unit while on the stand. Take the time to clean and lubricate thoroughly while it's out... No point in paying a tech $$ for that. You may have to source the parts from Coleman yourself.
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Old 03-21-2014, 10:23 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jesilvas View Post
To be honest, if you can't handle 120V electricity or read a meter or follow a wiring diagram, you need someone to do this for you.
It may be easy once it's taught to you, but that's why we teach.
I'm not completely clueless but I agree with you.

However it's it's just the capacitors I would like to try that on my own first. We are fulltiming so I need to learn this sometime. I am pretty sure there is an electrician in the park who can help me also.

Working with someone on facebook I think we found the problem. Looks like its the outside blower fan. The capacitor is the grey one on the bottom left. When I start the unit I can hear the compressors kick in and the inside fan is working fine, but the outside fan is not running and there is no airflow over the coils. This is why it sounded weird to me.
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:11 AM   #13
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Cool

Quote:
Working with someone on facebook I think we found the problem.
I love it when a plane comes together! You'll be chill'n before you know it.
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Old 03-21-2014, 12:53 PM   #14
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The 2 large ones are the ones replaced on my AC and yes they can shock you if not handled properly.
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