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The compressor hums for about 5 seconds then clicks off--there was a thunderstorm this afternoon, and the power had gone off once or twice. Could that have fried the start relay?

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Yes, replace the start relay.There is probably a capacitor in-line also. Replace it too.

Posted on Jul 30, 2009


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If the humming last 3-5 seconds then makes a faint click sound and stops humming for a minute or two. Then resumes the hum again it may be your compressor locked down. Stuck. Most likely it is just a bad start capacitor not kick starting the compressor. A $6 part.

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Yikes! that sounds like the starter capacitor or starter relay.
Your meter must be able to show very low ohms to distinguish a short from a normal coil. Relay coils like that can be very low... like 10's of ohms.
If you bypassed the relay, then you are sending the compressor into over-current (because there is no starter capacitor) or the compressor is shorted.
There is somewhere a starter capacitor or "condenser" that basically gives the motor a boost to get it turning. These capacitors usually open up after a few years. You can get a new one at a refrigeration or AC parts store. It will be marked with a number like 22 uF. It is round or rounded and has a metal covering. Be sure to get the right kind because all this stuff you are working with is dangerous to make a mistake with.
When that capacitor is bad, you will hear the compressor hum loudly and then click. If you are just plain mean you will wait a few minutes and it will do it again... but what you are doing is going to ruin you compressor when there may still be lots of life in it.
On the other hand, if this has gone on too long, the compressor may be ruined anyway. But a new capacitor is much cheaper than a new compressor by a long shot!

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Thanks for all the suggestions. I just replaced the overload relay and it does the same thing. Runs for a few seconds and the loud click from overload relay. I did notice the relay is really hot to the touch, if that matters.Coils on back are clean. I had noticed the last few months that the inside coils were frosting up quite a bit.Really had hoped it was the relay.

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