Basic Troubleshooting and Service Categories

May 12, 2000
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What are some of the most common things to look for when troubleshooting system components such as condensers and compressors?

Although service technicians have different degrees of expertise, most service problems can be diagnosed using the same level of knowledge.

Mechanical service troubleshooting for the most part can be broken down into three distinct categories:

1. Line voltage;

2. Controls; and

3. Mechanical components.

Each of these three items plays a very integral part in making (allowing) the system to perform the way it was designed.

Line Voltage

First is the line voltage. You must be fully aware as to what the equipment is rated for and check that against what your meter says you are getting.

Many installing electricians are not as savvy as we technicians, and therefore are not always as careful as we would like them to be. So check both your meter and the name plate on the equipment.

Tip: Remember that fire ants love to get into the electrical panels and in between the contacts of a compressor or fan contactor, so this summer look for them there.

Controls

Secondly, the controls of the system must be understood.

Are you dealing with a typical cooling system that works via a mercury bulb thermostat, or is the system interfaced with some type of energy management system? Or, maybe it is a system that has dehumidification priority.

All of these different systems have unique characteristics, so the bottom line is to know what you are trying to accomplish and how the system is supposed to work.

Tip: Remember that rats, mice, and most gnawing animals tend to bite into and sever control wires, so if you are losing that low voltage, look for teeth marks.

Mechanical Components

Lastly is the mechanical components of the system. What exactly are the symptoms of a scroll compressor that is not cooling just right? Does Puron® have the same vapor-pressure traits as R-22?

These are the things you must know and think about. Ask questions, get on the web, and wear out the technical questions e-mail guy when you need to know something.

Remember that there are many, many types and brands of equipment out there. You cannot know them all, but you can sure build your arsenal of toll-free phone numbers to get help.

Tip: Remember to always add a cleanup kit to a system if it has had an electrical failure and shows acidic oil. The extra time and cost will be recouped in the long run, when the system runs properly for years to come.

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