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Jul 28, 2021 - 2:07:16 PM
3700 posts since 4/7/2004

Wife said AC was not blowing cold and when I opened window nearest the ac unit I noticed it was not running, I just heard a humming sound, so I turned the thermostat off. When I went out to the central unit there was a burnt smell coming from the breaker box on the house near the unit and the insulation was melted off of one wire at the connection. Not sure why the wire got this hot and why the breakers did not turn off. The breaker for the AC in the main breaker box did not turn off either.

At this point I am not sure if the sound was coming from the AC or the breaker.

Called our ac guy, no answer. Will call in the morning.

Actually I am now wondering if I need to call an electrician instead. First of all I am not sure if the AC caused the issue in the breaker box, or if it was entirely an issue with the breaker. Do you guys think an issue in the AC is a better reason for the breaker to fail?

Also, not sure if the AC guy even will be able to diagnose anything if the breaker is in this condition and I am not sure if running lines to the unit is something that he even does.

I will ask him in the morning, just hoping someone here can shed some ideas with the little info I provided. :(

Ken

Jul 28, 2021 - 2:20:10 PM

banjo bill-e

Tuvalu

11457 posts since 2/22/2007

It's a tough time to be without AC, good luck!

Jul 28, 2021 - 2:30:18 PM

dat

USA

31166 posts since 7/26/2006

Could just be a capacitor, for the ourside fan

Jul 28, 2021 - 2:36:21 PM

O.D.

USA

3613 posts since 10/29/2003

Jul 28, 2021 - 2:38:19 PM

O.D.

USA

3613 posts since 10/29/2003

Could be from lightning
A good AC tech should be able to diagnose and repair
regardless of cause

Good luck

Jul 28, 2021 - 2:57:50 PM
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10441 posts since 8/22/2006

Outside evaporator unit not running that sounds familiar. And the breaker didn’t trip? Humming sound. Yep sounds familiar. Is the outside connection in the electrical box is this where you are smelling the burnt smell? My ac experience has taught me that the outside connection can be a trip breaker I.E with a switch or a fused breaker. Pull out the connection and there this fuse about two inch cylinder looking thing,both can go bad both will smell burnt but what your are describing sounds like a power surge a big one on one side of the service (240 volt..one leg 120 volt) going to your outside unit. Humming could be the unit not getting the required voltage to start the compressor best call an ac guy have him check it may have damaged the compressor and if you got an old unit that has the the old refrigerant in it hold on to your hat. We here at home were faced with exactly your situation. One side power surge the only thing the out side power was protected by a trip breaker not fused

Edited by - 5B-Ranch on 07/28/2021 15:00:33

Jul 28, 2021 - 4:19:58 PM

3700 posts since 4/7/2004

Thanks everyone!

No lightning, unit was running just fine this morning and it has been sunny all day. Nothing else in house was affected, nor did the lights or tv's flutter.

Looked at the breaker box and the wire that comes in from the house to the breaker is no longer attached! The clamp with the hole and screw was no longer attached to the breaker or the wire!

Not sure if anything can be determined from the location of the disconnected wire. My neighbor thinks the problem is inside since the wire is still connected to the end that comes from the AC. Guess I will find out tomorrow. :(

Old unit and just put freon in 4 weeks ago. It has had a slow leak since I have lived here, needs a charge once every 6-7 years. Was not cheap with the old r22, but did not want a new unit when things are so hard to get these days.

Ken

Edited by - banjoken on 07/28/2021 16:21:51

Jul 28, 2021 - 5:22:45 PM

10441 posts since 8/22/2006

Check your emergency rooms and check for someone that came in with electrical burns. For the screws and clamps to be no longer connected hummm

Zap ask your wife if she heard any unusual screaming.

Jul 29, 2021 - 3:14:59 AM
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3757 posts since 4/22/2018

Sounds like possibly a loose connection in the breaker. We had it in ours, the clamp screw was not tight enough and the electricity started arcing between the wire and the clamp. At 50hz it was enough, over time to oscillate the screw even looser, then the arcs got bigger and stuff started melting.

Jul 29, 2021 - 4:04:48 AM
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1267 posts since 9/6/2019

Jonty sounds on-point. It sounds like you had an arc that burnt the connection completely off. The humming is probably caused by the voltage being too low to fire the run capacitor. Hopefully nothing else is damaged.

Jul 29, 2021 - 5:44:49 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

19795 posts since 6/30/2015

If you're positive it wasn't a lightening surge, then I'd go with Jonty's answer. The lightening surge did not have to be recent. I had stuff start failing about 6 months after lightening struck in my back yard. One of them was the outside breaker that connects my hot tub, along with a fuse in the hot tub controller. The surge weakens, and the electricity surges caused by the compressor in your case, the pump and heater in mine, continue to weaken until it breaks. I now have a whole house surge protector, time will tell if it was worth the investment.

Jul 29, 2021 - 7:32:47 AM

6822 posts since 9/5/2006

sounds like someone or something got into the flex romex at the breaker box. those romex lines dont just fall off . even if the connector came loose it would jerk the wire out of the breaker. probably just needs to check the wires and reconnected and do a test run with an amp probe to see if the amps are in specs.

Jul 29, 2021 - 7:58:32 AM

O.D.

USA

3613 posts since 10/29/2003

My guess is the capacity got fried by recent lightning, then the unit tried to start without the aid of the capacitor and then fried the connections in the panel

Jul 29, 2021 - 8:24:24 AM
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58025 posts since 12/14/2005

My guess is that anybody who has worked with AC as a business, would be able to diagnose and repair.
I wouldn't want to mess with any voltages higher than it takes to light a lamp.

Although, according to Billy Crystal, in a cop buddy movie with Gregory Hines:
"It ain't the VOLTAGE that kills ya. It's the AMPS!"
So Hines asks: "Well then, how many AMPS are in the third rail??"
Billy's reply:
"Enough to push a TRAIN!"

Jul 29, 2021 - 8:31 AM

6822 posts since 9/5/2006

oh melted wire,,my bad ,,, yeah capacitor is probably the problem

Jul 29, 2021 - 10:53:55 AM

11042 posts since 6/17/2003

I'd call the AC service people. Something caused too much of a draw that the overcurrent protector functioned. Find what caused the draw, then repairing the fuse holder/disconnect switch is the easy part. Froze up, component went bad, compressor failed causing an excessive draw... it could be a number of things. Go to a festival and have the repairman call you when it's repaired. :-)

Jul 29, 2021 - 12:34:38 PM

3700 posts since 4/7/2004

Thanks everyone,

I spoke to the guy that I used, first time using him, about a month ago to put freon in my system. Never worked so good! Has to be done once every 7 or so years, but this time it was better. Not sure if it was overcharged as that can do damage, but I also read that if over charged it does not cool well, it was working well! Exhaust from the outside unit was hotter than usual and in the past usually that cooled off after the charge.

Anyways... from what I explained to him on the phone he told me to call an electrician and get the box fixed, then call him to see what caused it. Guess he is not willing to do the box and he cant diagnose till the box is fixed. Perhaps I will call another ac guy to see if he would do both.

Here are photos showing the box. Really surprised that the breaker did not trip, either one! Could have had a big fire if I was not there. I wonder what would have happened if I was outside and tried to open box as it was happening?




Edited by - banjoken on 07/29/2021 12:38:13

Jul 29, 2021 - 1:06:07 PM

4320 posts since 12/6/2009

Jonty hit the nail on the head. loose connection. heat stayed at loose connection so breakers thermo break wouldnt work...so wire connection just started burning away. if it were some where else the where else would have either tripped breaker or burnt at that point.......then again it could be that something overloaded some where else and caused loose conection at breaker to heat up and burn....in any event its a loose connection that  did the dirty work..Needs a good AC man or electrician to check complete system.. "electrical work is not a hobby"

Edited by - overhere on 07/29/2021 13:08:02

Jul 29, 2021 - 2:20:36 PM
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dat

USA

31166 posts since 7/26/2006

quote:
Originally posted by overhere

"electrical work is not a hobby"


Awwww, where's yer sense of adventure? Gotta learn somehow. 
smiley

Jul 29, 2021 - 3:35:26 PM

10441 posts since 8/22/2006

I’m only seeing two wires and a ground. That don’t look right. For 240 volt you need one wire for 120volt (red)another for 120volt (black) one for common usual a white wire then the copper bare wire for ground. Or green for ground it can be insulated like the others. Sometimes jake leg electricians will cut corners and make the common the copper bare wire leaving no reliable ground. I have seen this in older homes. I was faced with this at my lake house while I was upgrading my water heater and electric stove. Sooner or later this type of work will show itself glad you didn’t have a house fire.  It also looks like the light/white wire may have come out of it's location and laid between the ground strip and the hot terminal where it came out. But for a set screw to have backed it self out like that (?)it could happen but surely you guys would have had some lights dimming or other unusual electrical glitches when the outside unit kicked on before the set screw came completely out. Definitely resembles arching because of the loose connection. 

Edited by - 5B-Ranch on 07/29/2021 15:48:29

Jul 29, 2021 - 4:12:11 PM

3700 posts since 4/7/2004

Thanks 5B ranch!

Not happy about that. Will ask electrician when he comes if it all needs to be changed.

Was home all day, worked fine in the morning, and between that time and when we noticed the unit was not running we saw nothing out of the ordinary

Jul 29, 2021 - 4:47:44 PM

10441 posts since 8/22/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjoken

Thanks 5B ranch!

Not happy about that. Will ask electrician when he comes if it all needs to be changed.

Was home all day, worked fine in the morning, and between that time and when we noticed the unit was not running we saw nothing out of the ordinary


Is the black cable with the wires in question is that going to your compressor? Or is that the feed from your electrical service? Hard to tell why there is only two legs.. 10/2 or 12/2 instead of 10/3 or 12/3 depending on amperage. 

Jul 29, 2021 - 4:56:37 PM

10441 posts since 8/22/2006

quote:
Originally posted by banjoken

Thanks 5B ranch!

Not happy about that. Will ask electrician when he comes if it all needs to be changed.

Was home all day, worked fine in the morning, and between that time and when we noticed the unit was not running we saw nothing out of the ordinary


What is this circled in blue?

the more I look at your photos and see all the scattering of debris and the burn pattern it reminds me of lighting strike.


 

Edited by - 5B-Ranch on 07/29/2021 17:03:45

Jul 29, 2021 - 4:59:24 PM

3700 posts since 4/7/2004

From the house. It is raining hard now. I will take a close look tomorrow and take some photos

Jul 29, 2021 - 5:33:16 PM

96 posts since 6/26/2006

Folks with know-how to diagnose higher voltage stuff impresses me. My AC stopped putting out cold air some weeks ago. Its thirty plus years old and was repaired a couple of years ago by a guy with thirty years' experience. Cost less than four hundred bucks, so this time I just assumed it was not going to be fixable. The recent laws in California require the unit to be up to a new unit's operation specifications. Yeah, right, like that's gonna' happen! Well. did find a bold soul to try his hand. This time it's blowing cold again for less than three hundred! I had commented in a BanjoHangout thread about selling my Staghorn to help pay for the lowest bid of seventy-five hundred dollars! After having the repair, a fellow
BGH member and great guy followed my comment and I did end up selling the Stag to him. I still will be thinning the herd in the next year; last week the thermocouple went out on my water heater. I asked the repairman about doing it myself using YouTube as my guide," Well, yeah you could most likely do that. It aint rocket science.' Thought for just a moment; yeah, a lot of gas and a lot of electricity in a small cabinet. Probably make like a rocket and blast a new hole, so. no, I'll pay the extra couple hundred thank you! Now that my car requires a new radiator, that just doesn't carry as much excitement so...
My dishwasher went out a few days ago and all the YouTube stuff doesn't match. Like they say it all happens in threes...

Jul 30, 2021 - 2:44:10 AM
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4320 posts since 12/6/2009

quote:
Originally posted by 5B-Ranch

I’m only seeing two wires and a ground. That don’t look right. For 240 volt you need one wire for 120volt (red)another for 120volt (black) one for common usual a white wire then the copper bare wire for ground. Or green for ground it can be insulated like the others. Sometimes jake leg electricians will cut corners and make the common the copper bare wire leaving no reliable ground. I have seen this in older homes. I was faced with this at my lake house while I was upgrading my water heater and electric stove. Sooner or later this type of work will show itself glad you didn’t have a house fire.  It also looks like the light/white wire may have come out of it's location and laid between the ground strip and the hot terminal where it came out. But for a set screw to have backed it self out like that (?)it could happen but surely you guys would have had some lights dimming or other unusual electrical glitches when the outside unit kicked on before the set screw came completely out. Definitely resembles arching because of the loose connection. 


AC's are typically only 220-240 volt in residential. no need for neutral. Therefore 2 conductors and green or bare for ground only (2 wire) something like a dryer or something that has a 240-110  will need a neutral...2 plus neutral plus ground.

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