Air conditioning systems are electrically powered, with various components and controls that ensure all system parts turn off and on when required. If anything goes wrong with any of the electrical components of the air conditioner, the system will experience performance issues and might not even turn on. Therefore, you want to ensure that the air conditioner installation does the installation properly and comes for a maintenance visit.
One of your air conditioner’s electrical components is the contactor, which is found in various HVAC system components. The role of a contactor is in the power distribution to various parts. This article will consider what a contactor is and what could go wrong with this critical; component of your air conditioner.
What Is a Contactor in an AC System?
It is a small device that controls the electrical flow to various components of your air conditioner. Think of a contactor as the drawbridge which extends over the river. If the drawbridge is down, the cars drive freely over the bridge to reach the other side. If the drawbridge is up, the vehicles will have to wait until the drawbridge is lowered again. The contactor in your air conditioning system works similarly.
However, unlike bridges that control traffic flow, the contractor controls electricity flow. Hence, if these devices have an issue, you should have them inspected by a professional air conditioner installation technician. They are used to provide and cut off electrical power to various components of your air conditioner, including the condenser, compressor, and many other motors in your system.
What Could Go Wrong With the Contactor?
The Contactor Could Be Stuck in the “OFF” Position
This can arise when the contacts are welded because of the high amperage that melts them. If this happens, your HVAC system will not be able to cool or heat your home. Since this is an electrical component, you want it tested and fixed by an air conditioner installation professional. Then the technician comes to your Southlake, TX home. They will use a multimeter to test the contactors.
Having the power off and disconnecting the wires from the contactor coils and the contacts themselves, the professional will attach the probes on both sides of the contacts. If they notice that power isn’t being transferred from one end to the other, the professionals will undertake the necessary measures to resolve the problem. If the contractors have melted, the air conditioner installation professional can replace them.
The two ends will have high electrical resistance if the contactors are closed. This might be a result of pitting on the contacts. The pitting is caused by partial melting and Arcing at the face of the contact. Remember, the contactors might not be touching although the switch is closed, resulting in high resistance. If this happens, a professional air conditioner installation technician will have to replace the contractors.
Cobwebs, Ants, and Other Insects in the Contactor
Did you know that there are ants that are attracted to electricity? Yes, some ants like Red Tawny Ant are attracted to electricity, especially at the contactor. As a result, they may be stuck between the contacts. Similarly, spiders might build spider webs between the contacts, making them unable to touch properly. Fortunately, you can avoid this by having a routine air conditioning service done by a reliable electrician or an air conditioner installation professional.
When the professional comes for a maintenance visit, they will look for ants and cobwebs in the electrical components and clean them to ensure a good power transfer between various components. If there are ants and cobwebs, the contactors will not allow the transfer of electrical power properly. The professional can shield the contractors to ensure there is minimal access to them by these insects. They can also replace the current contactor with an electronic one.
Coil Burnout Because of High Amperage or Water
If the contactor coils have water when powered on, they will short circuit. But how does an air conditioner installation technician in Southlake, TX determine if the contactor coils are intact or even open? They use a multimeter to measure both sides of the coil using a multimeter. While doing this, they ensure that the power to the coil is off and test the electrical resistance in ohms. If the multimeter reads OL, that shows it is in an “open line,” meaning that the coil has burnt out.
However, the contactor coil is intact if the technician measures electrical resistance. Then they compare the electrical resistance readings to a known value on a new contactor with the same ratings to see if the electrical resistance is unexplainably high. Water on the contactor coil or excessive amperage could cause the coil to burn away. If there is a blockage between the contacts while the coil is powered, high amperage could happen if the contactors are only half down.
Improper Voltage Flowing Into the Contactors or Loose/Bad Electrical Connections
Low contactor and malfunctioning coil voltages could be caused by rusted electrical connections at the spade terminal. Due to low voltage, a burned-out contactor coil could also happen. There could be a poor connection in the wire flowing from the indoor unit, resulting in low voltage on the contactor. When you call an HVAC repair technician, they measure the coil’s applied voltage. A burnt-out coil could happen if it is set too low. If such is the case, the air conditioner installation pro will replace the contactor and repair the electrical connections.
The air conditioner has various electrical and electronic components as an electrical appliance, and a contactor is among them. It allows the transfer of electrical power to different parts of the unit. If damaged, your AC unit might not run. For Routine Air conditioning maintenance, call us at One Hour Air Conditioning & Heating of Fort Worth, your trusted air conditioner installation professionals in Southlake, TX.