Most heating and cooling system problems don’t build overnight. They start slow and, if left undiagnosed, become bigger and severe. Usually, the initial symptoms or indicators of any budding issue are small and get overlooked easily. Nevertheless, as the intensity of the problem increases, the indicators become hard to ignore. A bad contactor is often the most common problem faced by HVAC owners. Hence, today’s article is dedicated to figuring out how one can determine whether their HVAC contactor is bad or not.
Contactor – What It Is And What It Does?
In order to know that the contactor is bad, one first needs to know what it is and what function it performs in the HVAC. So without much ado let’s get down to the basics first.
In simplest terms, a contactor is a transmitter that regulates the flow of electricity to the air conditioner. Initially, when the AC is switched on, the contactor moves to permit the electrical charge to flow through the machine so that it can cool the premises. Once the desired temperature is clocked, the contactor moves again, but this time to stop the flow of electricity. The cycle continues to keep the indoors comfortable.
How Does The Contactor Go Bad?
From above, two things must have become clear –
1. A contactor is an electrical component.
2. It is a moving device.
Regular maintenance will keep the contactor in good form. Nonetheless, it will eventually suffer from wear and tear as all moving parts do. Hence, the two reasons that contribute towards a contactor becoming bad are :
1. Lack Of Maintenance – Electrical components need periodic maintenance to ensure that there are no loose or frayed connections. Such occurrences can cause damage to the device and cause it to go bad. A strict maintenance schedule will see to it that the connections are all secure, and there are no dirty contacts in the circuit. Also, all moving parts are greased or lubricated to make sure that they move with minimum friction. This little detail will increase the lifespan of the component.
2. Wear And Tear – When the moving parts rub against each other, they cause friction. This friction, in turn, causes wear and tear. Over a period of time, all moving parts tend to suffer from it. One can take steps to slow down the process, but there is no way to eliminate it entirely. Lubricating the parts that rub against each other will help to some extent. Ultimately, one should be prepared to replace the component when it’s worn out completely.
How To Know If My Contactor Is Bad?
Figuring out whether your contactor is bad is all about paying attention to how your air conditioner reacts. An obvious thing to look out for is that the HVAC will not work as usual. It will be a little off. Now it is up to you to detect what exactly is different. To make the task easy, here are a few indicators of a bad or faulty contactor.
1. The Condenser Unit Works Continuously – As we mentioned above, once the ideal or the pre-set temperature is reached, the contactor shuts down to stop further cooling. It remains shut until the temperature increases, and more cooling is required to maintain it. Sometimes the contactor overheats. This causes it to melt. When that happens, the condenser unit is unable to shut down. So the cooling happens continuously. Under such a circumstance, the only option is to switch off the AC manually.
2. AC Makes A Humming Sound But Does Not Turn On – A humming sound from the AC is also a sign of a bad contactor. It indicates that the contactor is trying to start and yet is unable to do so. When that happens, your AC will start but will not blow cool air. Instead, it will blow normal room temperature air. It happens because the condenser unit fails to get power from the contactor to start and begin cooling.
3. Shuddering Or Chattering Sound Coming From AC – Yet another sign of trouble is the shuddering or chattering sound coming from the AC. Typically, it is indicative of a dirty contactor. It happens due to a lack of maintenance. Ideally, during maintenance, the contactor is given a thorough cleaning so that there is no dirt accumulated on it. When its contacts become dirty and the layers of dirt increase, they prevent the contactor from closing fully. As a result, the machine makes shuddering and chattering noises.
What To Do When You Suspect A Bad Contactor?
Now that you have figured out that the culprit is a bad contactor, what’s the next step? The logical next step is to call your local HVAC company to send a technician to validate your finding and take the necessary corrective action. Since the contactor is an electrical component and inside the AC unit, we implore you not to tackle it as a DIY activity.
In The End
The contractor is a very small yet crucial part of your heating and cooling system. The least you can do to extend its life is to ensure that your unit gets its due annual maintenance each year, without fail, from a trained HVAC technician. This little care will go a long way in extending its life and keep your air conditioner working optimally. Please do not ignore the problem as it can lead to further complications whose repair may turn out to be too expensive.
At Aztil Air Conditioning, we strongly recommend our clients in West Palm Beach, Florida, to contact us whenever they feel that something is off with their HVAC unit. However, if they still desire to tackle the problem on their own, we suggest that they remain extremely cautious and keep their electrical safety knowledge up-to-date.
If you live in West Palm Beach and wish to schedule a maintenance or repair of your HVAC system, give us a call, any time, at +1-888-729-8452 as we are open 24/7. Our technicians are well-trained professionals who can handle all sorts of jobs related to your HVAC system, including installations and replacements. Remember, Aztil Air Conditioning is your one-stop-shop for all HVAC needs.