Replacing an Air Conditioning Contactor
As the summer days continue to heat up, having a working air conditioner is essential to having a cool home and peace of mind. One very common problem for air conditioners is having the contactor go out. This rather small component has a very important job to do, and that is to tell your system when to shut off. If your air conditioner contacts are sticking, the thermostat may be trying to shut off your air conditioning without any success. Having a faulty contactor on your air conditioner can eventually lead to higher bills since you are probably using more energy then you would if the contactor was working correctly. The necessity of replacing the contactor on your air conditioner will depend on the person as some will wait until it is absolutely necessary while others seem content with leaving the device alone for a while. If you are considering replacing your contactor on your air conditioner, you may want to be aware of the fact that fixing it yourself will save you a lot of money. While there are some jobs that are better handled by professionals, replacing the contactor on your air conditioner is one of the simpler tasks to perform. The price range for a repair of this caliber can differ depending on where you go, but it can even be a few hundred dollars different if you go to the wrong place. However, the replacement parts are cheap and the actual time that will be spent on the project is minimal. Once you have decided on replacing your contactor on your on your air conditioner, there are few tools that you will want to have by your side. The items you will absolutely need are a screwdriver, wire strippers, and needle-nose pliers. If you can, you may also want to bring a voltmeter and gloves to the job as well since they will make things easier. The first thing that you want to do when starting this job is to make sure that the disconnect switch is off. You do not want any unexpected surprises while you are working, and it is for your own safety. If you can, you may want to shut off your breakers as well in case there is any jolt in the electrical system. After this is done, continue by finding your access panel and open it up. Once the panel is open, it is time to locate the air conditioner contactor, which is what you will be replacing. Examine the device and try to identify it the best that you can. You may want to refer to some online images to see what model your contactor is. Keep notes as to what wires are connected so that reinstallation will be easier for you. If you cannot determine what type of device you have, you may want to take it to a local refrigeration or electrical supply store to see if they can identify it for you. It should also be noted that the replacement may not look like the exact same type as what you originally had. As long as you have the right part for the job and all of the requirements add up, don’t take too much time trying to find a heat pump contactor that looks exactly like the one you have since different companies have varying shapes. Once you have the replacement ready, it is time to switch the parts. This step cannot be stressed enough, keep notes on what wires are going where. You can never take too many notes, and this will be crucial in ensuring that your replacement works correctly. Some wires may have the same base color, but a different stripe on them, so make sure you look at the whole wire. After you are confident with your diagram or notes, take off the screws that are holding on the air conditioner contactor. Remove the wires and reconnect them in the exact same order for the replacement. When you are connecting the wires to the new device, check and make sure that they are fitting snugly in their locations. If they are loose or not connecting the right way, use a pair of wire crimpers to make the wires fit snugly. After you have connected all of the wires back, power up the unit, but leave the disconnect turned off. Set the thermostat to your desired temperature and go back to the unit to see if it is working properly. If your unit is not working test your terminals with your voltmeter to make sure power is flowing properly. You may discover that a terminal is not getting power, causing the system to fail. If this is the case, use your needle-nose pliers to get a firm grip on the wires and test the connections. After everything checks in and is working properly, simply put the cover back on and enjoy your new system. While the job is easy to perform, keep in mind that taking things step by step will help you get the job done faster. Do not rush the project and end up frustrated. Take notes and keep in mind that you are saving hundreds of dollars by doing it yourself.