Living as we do north of the St Lawrence River by a hundred kilometers or so we don’t get long stretches of heat and humidity like – say Baltimore. But it does get warm enough (scheduled for low 30s – 90 degrees F today) that it is worth it to have whole house air conditioning.
Here’s a photo of our Concord central air condensing unit. It was new when the house was, and while it isn’t a big name in A/C it works OK. Concord is a house builder’s brand that is one of many owned by Lennox.
This unit gave us good service for 10 years and then last year we had a few issues. Of course it waited until the first hot day – and shortly after the furnace contractor checked it over – to start acting up. It was slow to get started and finally it tripped the circuit breaker – first time ever. After that it wouldn’t start at all.
Since it was a really hot spell just then I repaired to the basement to sleep – it was cool and clammy down there but I managed until Mr. Oates came down to join me around 2 AM and amused himself by rolling the ball around in his kitty play track. Very stimulating.
When the repair guy returned he found that the run capacitor was faulty. This is the gadget which keeps the power draw low while the compressor and fan are running, and also helps start the unit. Not good when it fails. When replacing this part the service guy recommended adding a separate start capacitor – these used to be standard equipment in old school A/C units but due to cost reduction efforts they omit them now. The start capacitor speeds up the initial process of getting the fan going and the compressor pumping.
It wasn’t a very expensive part to add and frankly I don’t see the rationale of leaving it off to save on production costs. Since it was added, the start capacitor has done its job well. The condenser unit starts up rapidly and much more quietly. We haven’t had any issues with the circuit breaker. And for a middle aged unit such as we have, reducing the initial power surge can go a long way towards a life extension on the compressor.
The start capacitor – a recommended addition, a false economic omission. That’s the way I see it anyway.