Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Big Scare


Florida Keys (high 82, low 70)

We had another squall line bringing yet another cold front the other day. I sure don’t remember this many cold fronts making their way all the way down into the Keys. It’s a very unusual year.  Of course our cold fronts don’t amount to much temperature wise, but they do winds, which don’t make for good boating days.

At about the time the front was coming through it started feeling pretty hot and humid inside the motor home.  We turned the thermostat down, waited a few minutes and then realized the front AC wasn’t kicking on.  Uh oh.

We are in south Florida, it’s hot, there are few repair options here,  and we may have blown one of our two AC units.   We would not be able to be down here with only one AC unit.

Before we left Tampa, we had the rear AC unit replaced when the compressor went out.  We run the front unit more often, and they were both the same age, so we assumed we blew another compressor.  I decided to try just turning the fan on and see what happened.  The fan came on, and I think the compressor kicked on as well, but only for a few seconds, then I heard a groan type sound and it quit.  It wouldn’t restart.

Al checked the Progressive Surge Guard to see if we had some low voltage here at the park. That sounded like a logical solution, but unfortunately, there was no error code on it.   It will cut off the power to the coach if the voltage is dangerously high or low.  Once the voltage is corrected, it will  re-start the power, but you’ll see a PE (previous error) code telling you what the problem was.   No PE’s.   Uh oh.

By this time I’m getting worried and starting to go into panic mode.  We know of no local mobile RV repair person and there is no local shop that I would trust.  Things are running through my head as to our options and how fast we could pack up and leave and get back to Tampa.   Meanwhile, it’s getting really stuffy inside.

I’m not sure I would trust anyone down here to do a major repair like  replace the AC unit.

My mind is running through all the possibilities, while Al went up to the office to see if they had any business cards for local RV repairs.

In the meantime, I started realizing how many power items we were running when the problem occurred.  Two AC units, one TV, the gas and electric water heater, refrigerator, dryer, and a few interior lights.

Uh oh.  Maybe I overloaded the 50 amp circuit?  I turned everything off except for the front AC unit……..and thank goodness, it came back on!  Yay!!!!

We don’t understand why the circuit breaker didn’t kick off, but it didn’t.   Maybe it just didn’t have enough power left to start the compressor?   It’s been running fine ever since. 

I never consider how many different electrical items I’m running and the only time that I can remember having a problem and kicking the circuit breaker was once when the last straw was the hair blower.

If anybody has any other ideas, please chime in.

We don’t want to ignore a warning sign and wait until the AC won’t run at all.  It’s better to repair things before they completely go out.  If it’s something that needs repairing, we’d like to have it done.  

We were wondering at first if it was the start capacitor on the AC unit.  We had that problem years ago with our old motor home.   Since it’s been running fine for two days, we’re hoping it was just an issue of running too many items at once.   Anybody know anything about start capacitors?  We don’t think we  stay down here with only one AC unit.


We haven’t done much exciting or blog worthy lately and haven’t even taken the boat out due to strong winds. We’re getting anxious to move over to our new site, but we have to wait a few more days for our tenants to leave.

Hopefully the winds will be down today and we’ll be able to take the boat out.  It’s been too long.

Yesterday morning, we got up early and headed over to Venture Out for a flea market.  We were hoping to get some bargains from some of the folks getting ready to head north.  Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything that even Good Will would have wanted!  What a bunch of junk. 

It did give us a chance to see our new home at sunrise though. 

The next picture is taken from the marina at Venture Out.  The saltwater swimming area is to the right, and the Tiki hut is in the center of the picture on the little spit of land. 

sunrise at Venture Out

The Tiki hut  out on the point is a perfect place to watch the sunrise. There are a couple of picnic tables there. We planned on sitting under the Tiki hut and doing a little reading, but the wind was so strong that it wasn’t pleasant at all.

sunrise at Venture Out


We are so anxious to move to our new site!


  1. We've had the same problem with the AC not working if we have too many things on especially anything that heats or cools. I would think dryer and AC and hot water heater would do it. We often turn the hot water heater off until we want to use it, only takes 10 min to heat up the water. Gorgeous spot for sunrise you just purchased. Only 11 days to go. You are just going to love it there I know.

  2. We turn off our hot water heater too. It heats quickly when we need it for dish washing and showers. Hope it's doing ok now and you have no more issues.

    Hope those winds die down.....

  3. I would think your A/C will be fine, probably a safety in you electrical system that starts shutting down high power appliances, starting with air conditioners.

  4. Anything that heats draws a big surge so my guess is the dryer put you over the top.

  5. A/C units draw the biggest voltage when the compressor is starting up. Sort of like pushing a car, it is hard to get it rolling but once you do it becomes easier to push. Since you turned off some of the electrical draws, it had the full power needed to get going.

    A start capacitor is like an electrical "spring". It stores a bunch of voltage like a spring stores energy when it has been wound up and released the extra electricity to give the A/C compressor an extra jolt to get moving.

    Not to worry you, possibly the capacitor is getting a little weak with age. They are easy to replace (usually just two wires) and should cost less that $20. They have a voltage size number on them and if you can't get the exact size you can use one with a higher number, but not a lower number. For example, if your capacitor is a 7, you can use a 10 just fine, but not a 5.

    Capacitors are available at any electrical supply store. Again, not to worry you, but to give you options and an information if you're going to deal with an A/C repairman.

    FWIW, I'd think any commercial A/C repairman could work on your unit should it be necessary, not just an RV tech.

    Any questions, don't hesitate to email me. :c)

  6. When it is really hot outside and the a/c is working overtime we also turn off the hot water heater and I even have to be careful about the microwave. So hopefully that's all that was wrong.

  7. I have no idea how to fix the AC, but really hope someone can help you and fast.

  8. I think you had a power voltage drop due to too many items being on and the surge protector wouldn't detect this because the voltage drop happened after the surge protector. The start capacitor also could be getting weak and as the previous responder said the cost to replace that capacitor is fairly inexpensive.

  9. Sounds like Paul has the answer to me.


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