Saturday, March 5, 2016
I futzed with it until 2am and gave up. It was time to bundle up.
I'm not an expert on furnaces, least of all the electricals that drive the motor, but I figured I should give the repair a shot. Once again, my lack of trust of repairman was haunting me. I did some research during daylight hours and many online comments pointed to the capacitor. It was a $10 part so it wouldn't be a big deal to just try it, but I prefer to definitively diagnose problems before throwing parts at them. I got out my trusty voltage detector and it seemed to indicate the capacitor was not working correctly. Only one of its wires was showing a voltage. I assumed this was the input, so the output wasn't working. I had my smoking gun.
I will also point out the absurd filter wedged in the furnace in the photo above. I don't know when that was done, but I feel lucky the house hasn't burned down. This filter is completely unnecessary, considering it is trying to filter incoming air that just passed through the standard filter, which I have replaced twice now.
After receiving the new capacitor I installed it and wanted to test it. In order to test with easy access, I needed to keep the access panel safety switch pressed. You can see my safe setup below.
Shockingly (literally), the furnace fired up and the blower spun to life. SUCCESS. Then I tried to reinstall the capacitor in the bracket and shocked the crap out of myself. Almost made it without an injury; maybe next time.
I am curious what would have happened if I had called a furnace repairman. I suspect I might be paying for a new furnace instead of a $10 capacitor. I'm almost tempted to put the old one back in and have a few people take a look at it to see how honest/competent they are. Maybe next time.