7.01.2014

The Air Conditioner Broke.

Last week while I was on my business trip, our air conditioner broke. Of course it was only a few weeks after our one-year home warranty ran out, and oddly enough it was only a few days after we hired someone to come "service" the air conditioner. Weird, right? We were a bit suspicious. I felt really bad for the husband because it is no fun to be without air conditioning in the heat of the summer in Texas! I was grateful for my freezing cold hotel room.

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 I was super busy in Indianapolis, so I didn't hear much more about it until I got another text from the husband that said, "I fixed it!"

Why is this newsworthy? Because I am literally so impressed with my husband's resourcefulness and have to share with you how much effort he went to to save us some money on this air conditioner repair. He deserves a major high five for this one!

Disclaimer: We are not air conditioner experts, and just because this worked for us doesn't mean you should go take apart your air conditioner! There is risk involved, and you have to know what you are doing. The husband was able to do this because he is familiar with electrical work.

I'll start from the beginning. We have a Carrier WeatherMaker 8000VS that is about 12 years old. A few days before it broke, we hired a guy to come service it and the unit at our rental house. Soon the husband noticed a faint burning smell in the house, and no cold air was coming out. Definitely broken. We were a little perturbed that it broke right after he was fiddling with it, but he was kind enough to come back out to our house free of charge to diagnose the problem.

The husband and the AC repair guy climbed into the attic to look at the unit, and he quickly diagnosed the problem. The fan wouldn't work. Our thermostat recognized that it was hotter than the temperature we want, so it clicked to turn on the motor for the blower. However, nothing happened because he fan wasn't working. They shut the power off, took out the blower motor and realized the thermistor in the module was fried.

That small black disk in the center of this photo is the fried thermistor.


The AC repair guy told Scott that he had two options: replacing the module (everything inside that circle above) for about $550 or replace both the motor and the module for about $1,100. That cost was just parts, not labor. He said Scott could probably do it himself since he was handy and more comfortable than the average joe with that type of work.

Using that knowledge, Scott did what he always does: He googled. He specifically searched the model number of our blower motor and found some videos and forums about this repair. Many people were referencing that you could just replace the thermistor (that penny-sized black disk) without replacing the entire module or motor, saving hundreds of dollars.

He searched for the thermistor by its model number and found you could buy it online for $1.50. However, he was roasting in our hotbox house and couldn't afford to wait for the standard shipping. It was going to cost about $50 to ship it overnight.

Then he caught a bit of luck. Turns out the manufacturer is actually based in a suburb of Dallas and would be willing to sell him the piece at their plant, for the $1.50 price. He made the trip out there and soon had his "magic penny."

The work didn't stop there, however. Because he is familiar with electronics, he knew he needed to find someone who could solder the thermistor to the module board. He searched "soldering" on Craigslist and found a computer electronics guy who listed soldering as one of his skills. He sent that guy the following picture to show him what he needed done, complete with dollar bill for scale.


He ended up paying the Craigslist guy $35 to solder the thermistor to the module board. It took 20 minutes. Then he took the module board back home and put the air conditioner back together.

Lo and behold, IT WORKED!

He saved us several hundred dollars, if not a thousand, by fixing the problem himself. He earned 50 million husband points that day!

I realize this post is not the most interesting thing if you came here for home decor ideas, but bear with me. I'm just so impressed with his "MacGuyver" characteristics and wanted to share just in case one of you encounters a similar problem. It's amazing what you can learn (and fix) by watching online tutorials or reading blog posts. It's such an incredible resource if you take the time to look.

Plus this blog is all about saving money by DIY-ing, and this is one of his best DIY projects to date... It's just not the prettiest project I've ever seen!
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24 comments:

  1. So glad your husband was able to fix it. Our AC went out two weeks ago. We're in NC with 100* weather. Luckily I learned a friend's husband is in this line of work. He was so kind and came out the day after the thing broke. He fixed it...we hope it will be a lasting fix...but we all know the system is old...
    Yesterday, the AC at work was broken! Arrgh. We all kept working but many of us turned out the lights in our office to try to keep it somewhat cool.
    Now my poor sister's AC is out. Crazy how it's going around. :)

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  2. Well, One should always buy energy efficient air conditioners. I researched on the internet and found few steps to clean AC and its AC Coil. Clean and lubricate the fan assembly, Clean dirt off the fan blades with either a rag or whisk broom and use a shop vacuum to clean dirt off the fan motor and shaft. Spray-clean away trapped dirt from the coils, Rinse away the cleaner from the coils, Inspect the coil fins for any damage.

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  3. If an air conditioning repair company can't manage these basic steps, it's better to air conditioning service and repairs

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  6. Sounds like you really lucked out with that one. AC repairs can be pretty expensive, but, sometimes you will get overcharged by some repair guys. Doing the research to see if you can fix the problem is always a good idea. But, usually there are a few repair guys in every city that will be honest with you and charge you a bit more than the cost of the part to fix something like this. http://www.airconomic.com.au/residential/services/

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  7. Mike, I agree that it is important to research the problem with you AC before calling anybody. Not only does this make it possible for you to fix the air conditioner self, but it also will help you once your help comes. It is imperative that you know how to explain the issue at hand. If you can't articulate the issue, then the repairman will have a hard time solving the issue. http://www.capefearair.com/air-conditioners.php

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  8. That is pretty impressive that he was able to diagnose the problem and fix the air conditioner. I am like you guys, in that I am not an air conditioning expert. However, you have proven that if I just take it slow, I might be able to fix my air conditioner myself. Hopefully, I can do that and save some money as well.
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  9. First off, that is the funniest and most squishy little dog in the first picture ever! In the paragraph above your second picture, you said that your thermistor was fried. Where exactly is the thermistor in that picture of those components? We're wondering if our air conditioning is having similar problems as this. The fan might not be working properly, and so it's possible it might be the thermistor having issues. What do you think?
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