Carrier HP R-22
Our home, of which we are the 3rd owners, is about 7 or 8 years old. To our knowledge, all equipment is original.
3 years ago, I got the bright idea to install a new programmable thermostat myself. My wife was having trouble reaching the old dial type, mechanical I believe, due to furniture placement.
I screwed that up, as apparently, the thermostat was defective out of the box. It was a Honeywell. My t-stat wiring is not fully to any code, and it appears there isn't a hard and fast code that is followed, mostly general guidelines. I apparently had the t-stat hooked up correctly initially, and when it didn't function properly, I started second guessing and switching wires around until finally nothing worked. Long story short, I blew a low amperage (2.5 if I remember correctly) ATC automotive type fuse in the air handler. A friend who is retired HVAC from the phone company came out, replaced the fuse, and installed the above thermostat which he happened to have on hand.
Everything seemed to be working just fine. AC worked, heat pump seemed to work, electric back up strips worked, unit would frost up in the winter, run through the defrost cycle, loud hisses here and there, and steam, life was good. I do say "seemed to work" because when the t-stat was replaced, it was spring, and since then we have had no complaints during winter, heat or comfort wise. Every observation I made when outside in the years since that thermostat issue indicated the system was running normal in the heating cycle.
Last night I noticed the outside unit cycling very rapidly, and shutting down rather harshly. The unit would shake slightly upon shutdown. Also, when cycling in this manner, upon start up (LRA 73), the breaker for the unit inside the garage buzzes. The breaker is not warm, but I felt it important to mention. In my opinion the unit is not starting as quickly as it should, and drawing high current for a second or two...
It seems to me the unit is "rapid cycling", which apparently my thermostat is supposed to prevent.
It does not rapid cycle all the time either. I noticed this morning the outside unit started and ran for a few minutes, then cycled. I have no idea how long it WILL run between cycles as I have the entire system shut down to prevent compressor damage. I tried searching the web for information that was specific to my model, and the only thing I ran across was someone with similar issues to mine that switched over to "E heat". After about 6 hours in emergency heat, something in his backup strip system malfunctioned and melted causing more issues and repairs. As such, it is completely off.
The only issue we've had in addition to my botched thermostat replacement was during an insane hot spell during the summer two years ago. Came home to no AC. Called my friend. The start up capacitor had exploded, or more correctly it was deformed and blew a bunch of oil out. He replaced it the next day and everything has been fine.
OAT is 36*, IAT is 68* and holding with the system shut off. The air handler seems to be functioning properly.
Finally, money is a huge issue. Both my wife and I are unemployed and we have two little boys. I really need to keep the repair costs to a minimum and do as much as possible myself.
I must also mention the lack of air handler information. To access the air handler, I must go outside and into the crawl space. It is basically a dirt floor covered in plastic. The floor starts out as a crawl space, but slopes upward as you head to the air handler. Up at the air handler it transforms into a lay down flat on your stomach and scoot space. Really stupid...
I am standing by with my multi-meter.
Where do I start?