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CONDENSING UNITS:

Condensing Unit pic
We do not SELL these items
This is only a typical example of a hundred or thousands of others like or
similar to this one. It makes little difference.  We are referring
to that big thing that is the outside part of the system and houses controls,
fans, compressor motors, etc. Of course, strictly speaking, the above
example may not really be just a condensing unit, but rather a "self-
contained" air conditioning system needing only duct work and a thermostat
to be complete. But for the moment, let's call everything outside "the
condensing unit". Of course, there are other types of condensers with water
cooling, etc., but we will confine ourselves to the air cooled types.
The first thing you will see when you look at a condenser is that it has
a large opening for a fan assembly to circulate lots of air. This motor may
require oiling semi-annually and you will be better off if you blow out of
it or off it the accumulation of oily dirt and debris periodically. This dust
may work its way into the bearings or bushings and shorten the life of them.
Any type of compressed air is suitable for this.


WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO TO WORK ON ANYTHING? LET'S LOOK AT OILING SOMETHING:

To oil the motor, you will need to TURN OFF THE POWER supplying this unit.
I do not mean to turn off the thermostat or unplug the heater and I don't
mean you need to pull the breaker in the electrical service panel to the
house.  I mean very clearly that you must kill the incoming power to this
specific device. If you don't trust yourself to turn off the power to the
condensing unit only, then maybe it is a good idea for you to kill power
to the whole house.  But that still doesn't mean that you don't need to
follow the same precautions given below.

Most all newer installations have some sort of disconnecting
device on the wall near the condensing unit, but many do not and you will
have to go to the electrical service panel of the house and turn off the
breaker or pull or unscrew the fuses for the OUTSIDE UNIT. This will usually
be a double in size breaker or two fuses.  Some are what is called three phase
and will have a TRIPLE wide breaker or THREE fuses.  You can look at the
nameplate on the outside unit and determine this. It will say something like:
230/1/60 or 208-230/3/60.  This would mean that it is 230 volts, single phase,
and 60 cycles per second electrically supplied. Or, it may be the 3 phase.
Your life may depend on this act, so make certain the OUTSIDE UNIT has no
230 volts powering it when you work on it.

If the disconnecting device has a pull-handle, pull it down to disconnect it.
BUT, DO NOT TRUST THAT THIS HAS DONE THE JOB OF KILLING THE POWER.  Open it
up and look to see if the little knife blade-like levers have actually pulled
away from the electricity.

Now that you have done all this and have confidence that the
outside unit has no high voltage electricity in it any more, let's take
additional precautions.

(1) Turn off the thermostat. This improves the odds that even if electricity
is still in the outside unit it may not get to you because a relay in it will
remain inactivated.

(2) Open the cover or door on the outside unit to get to the CONTROLS inside
it. You really need a volt/ohm meter or other voltage measuring device to try
to determine if you can find ANY electricity. Look, also, to see if just maybe
there might even be TWO electrical circuits coming into the unit.

(3) Now, finally, we will test a "last resort", but foolproof way to make
sure beyond a doubt that the electricity is not there.  Insert a screwdriver
(with a well insulated handle for you to hold) into the controls and "short"
some of the big wires one at a time to the cabinet (grounding) to see if you
get a flash of blinding light and arcing.  Don't laugh.  This may save your
life.

(3a) DO NOT DO THE FOLLOWING UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. If you are
really comfortable with electricity and understand it, just by-pass the above
screwdriver act and simply touch THE BACK of one of your fingers to some
wires one at a time while you keep the other hand firmly in a pocket. I state
THE BACK of the finger because if there were to be electricity there, then
your muscles would contract and instead of you grabbing the wire your finger
and arm would only slap the heck out of your
 chest.

All the above precautions may seem excessive.  I assure you they are not.  If
you intend to do anything with air conditioning you will always need to follow
all of the above precautions every time. Never cut corners with electricity
and respect it highly. TEST IT.  Then test it two or three OTHER WAYS just
to verify that test really worked. Even professional people can make
mistakes and do get hurt or loose their lives working with electricity.  So
you be EXTRA careful.

The air conditioners contain enough current potential to kill you (and ten other people holding on to you). Don't take chances. IF YOU CAN'T FIGURE HOW TO TURN OFF THE ELECTRICITY, THEN STAY OUT OF THE UNIT! If you still want to oil the condenser motor, locate it in:
Link to The Parts of the Condenser