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Servicemans Log

A bloke needs his air-conditioning, especially during Sydney's recent hot, humid weather. Unfortunately, that's when it's also the most likely to break down and inflict pain and suffering on a hard-working serviceman.

by the Serviceman

Items Covered This Month

• Danair reverse cycle split level air-conditioner

• How to catch a computer virus

• Sanyo C20PE70-00 (A7-A20 chassis)

• Hairong ATX-320WB computer power supply

With the hot humid weather upon us, there is nothing worse than a faulty air-conditioner – especially when you are low on funds after the Christmas thingy.

In this case, the impecunious victim was yours truly. I had bought a cheap 2HP Danair reverse-cycle split-level air-conditioner from Aldi in 2005 for $600. It then cost me another $600 to have it installed by a licensed refrigeration technician/installer, so it cost me just $1200 all up

Click for larger image

At the time, I thought I had done pretty well and it hadn’t missed a beat in five years until, of course, the compressor warranty ran out. The fault started out as being intermittent but it finally just would not cool or heat at all. All the fans were working and you could hear the compressor apparently trying to start for a brief period before giving up.

Initially, I thought it might be dust on the evaporator core and filters and so, sexist beast that I am, I got the missus to give it a good going over with the vacuum cleaner. When that proved fruitless I checked to see if the thermostat was damaged. It looked OK to me but then I’m an amateur when it comes to air-conditioning (I’m much more expert on catching computer viruses).

Next, I checked the outside unit and found that the two cooling pipes were not changing temperature so perhaps I had lost the gas. I then looked inside the box but to the uninitiated everything looked sweet – no signs of stress, smoke or broken parts.

I got onto Google and tried to track down an authorised Danair service agent but without success. I was on the edge of cutting my losses and getting a new one but being mid-summer the queue to buy and install air-conditioners was around the block. Mrs Serviceman was more successful, however. She went through Aldi and eventually found a local service company and arranged for the service technician to phone us back.

In the meantime, I removed the top cover from the outside unit and found a wiring/circuit diagram glued to the inside of the lid. This showed that the circuit was in fact very simple, with a 50µF 450V starter capacitor in series with the compressor. Similarly, there was a 3µF 450V capacitor in series with the fan motor. The fan seemed to be running perfectly but it was always possible that something wasn’t quite right and it was setting off a safety circuit that turned the compressor off.

The service company technician eventually phoned back and I had a chat with him. He was friendly enough and told me that these were excellent units. He also told me that it was highly likely that it was the capacitor that was at fault, as the compressor hardly ever failed.

The cost of a new compressor is $470 plus fitting, while the capacitor comes in at $50. As a result, I ordered one from WES Components. Well, I actually ordered two capacitors – a 40µF 400V capacitor and a 10µF 400V capacitor, as they did not have a single 50µF 450V unit in stock. They cost less than $50 delivered.

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