We are continually called out to conduct AC repairs at a home in Irvine, Orange County, California, which deals with constant air conditioning problems due to incorrect installation. To have a large AC system not working in a luxury home such as this, in a warm location like the OC, with that level of burden on the system, is a significant difficulty for the owner of the residence.
Located in a high-end neighborhood called Shady Canyon, you’d expect that this high-end air conditioning system would be top-of-the-line and perfectly installed. But unfortunately, we are often brought in to fix the mistakes of others.
For this job, the control that the homeowner was using on the AC unit alerted him that there was a system malfunction. With the air conditioner not cooling the house, we got a call.
Part 1: Seven Failing 5-Ton Bryant Evolution System Units
Wrong Sized Cooling Units for the Home
With the amount of insulation, the design of the home, and the zoning, this Orange County residence should have had seven 3-ton units. But instead, the installer chose 5-ton units.
Incorrect Air Conditioning Compressors for the Length of Refrigerant Lines
The refrigerant lines are another significant problem. They go 15 feet straight down from the compressing units, 30 feet across underground, and then another 30 to 35 feet up to the equipment in the home. These compressors are not designed to be run underground for such extensive lengths. The manufacturer of these units suggests a maximum of 3 to 5 feet of refrigeration line underground.
Oversized Equipment in Home
Additionally, the original contractor installed AC equipment in the home that was much too large for the system. The homeowner is constantly having airflow issues.
AC Cool Called to Service Failing System
These units are going to fail. The owner of this home learned an expensive lesson. Working with an experienced and well-regarded Irvine, California air conditioning repair company from the get-go is vital.
We were brought in to extend the life of the systems for as long as possible. We perform regular maintenance and service to keep the system running as long as possible. Eventually, each air conditioning unit will die and require replacement.
Part 2: Rodents are Not Friends of AC Condensing Units in this Irvine Neighborhood
The first thing we did when we arrived at the home has we accessed the brain of the control.
The Control Relay
The control relay can communicate the operating characteristics of this type of air conditioning system. It indicated that the condensing unit outside had a fault and was shot off on a high-pressure safety control.
This device uses a set of keys that we push that allow us as service contractors to access the information. We can go in and look at the actual run times of the unit. We can look at the history of error codes from the time the unit was installed to present day. This control keeps a running total of anything that’s occurred within the system, both at the furnace and the air conditioner.
Solenoid Valve, Liquid Line, and Copper Wiring
From the information we received at the control, we identified that the problem was outside at the air conditioner. It was either a bad fan motor, a dirty coil, or some other component causing the system to run hot outside.
Outside at the AC condensing unit we immediately found what is called the liquid line and solenoid, which controls the refrigerant to the indoor unit. The solenoid valve is a door that is electronically opened to allow for the passing of the refrigerant. When the air conditioner calls for cooling, it sends 24-volts to energize the solenoid valve, which opens the door and allows the coolant to pass to the indoor unit or the coil inside the home.
The liquid line is a copper pipe along the bottom, underneath the solenoid. The refrigerant goes through that copper line to the inside of the house.
When viewing the solenoid, it was apparent that rodents had been chewing the wiring. The relay wasn’t opening, causing the refrigerant to back up like a dam and shut down the unit. It’s a built-in safety action in the unit. If the pressure’s too high, the solenoid will shut it off to keep you from destroying the compressor. This procedure prevents the homeowner from having to replace a $3,000-dollar condenser.
Rodent Problem in Irvine, California Requires Constant AC Repair
In this part of Orange County in Irvine, they have a significant problem with rodents. Rodents have a thing for copper wires—they chew them all the time. When we see AC systems not working here in the OC we often check for rodents. If we had installed this system, we would have secured all the wires in conduits as a precaution against rodents.
Seeing the problem, Paul temporarily rewired the system. The homeowner needed his AC cooling system running as quickly as possible. We replaced it with brown wire, which extends from the top of the solenoid valve. It’s a low energy 24-volt connection. We calendared a time for Paul to return to continue needed maintenance. At the next visit, we put that wire into gray piping, in conduit, to protect it from future damage.
We also put all the wiring for all these units in conduit, because all of them are wired similarly with the wire exposed. Rodents will continue to do damage if we don’t.
NOTE: The solenoid is an uncommon component on residential air conditioning, but because of the way the original contractor designed the system, it was a necessary add-on.
Part 3: Fixing a Contactor with a Burnt Terminal in the Orange County Home
Coming soon: See how we go the extra mile!