Sticking or Jammed Air Conditioner Thermostatic Expansion Valve
How to Fix an A/C or Heat Pump TEV that's not working, won't cool, warm air flow
TEV STICKING REPAIR - CONTENTS: repair of a jammed thermostatic expansion valve (TXV or TEV) at new air conditioner or heat pump installations. Data about & contact information for KeepRite air conditioners & Tempstar air conditioners & heat pumps
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Sticking or jammed thermostatic expansion valves:
In addition to debris, dirt, or icing problems that occur in TEVs or thermostatic expansion valves, sometimes the thermostatic expansion valve on brand new air conditioners may need an extra jolt to get it working, as we explain here.
Sticking Air Conditioner or Heat Pump Thermostatic Expansion Valves at New Installation
At TEV INSTALL & REPAIR where we list various troubles with thermostatic expansion valves and suggest diagnostic and repair procedures we noted the following:
[Click to enlarge any image]
Sticking TEV valves:The TEV and also AEVs depend on a little oil or oil mist flowing along with refrigerant to lubricate the interior of the valve.
Occasionally debris in the refigerant system can cause the TEV to jam, chatter, or fail to perform properly.
But we suspect that a more common cause of TEV valve sticking is the freezing of a droplet of water at the needle valve, holding it stuck. The valve stops working properly.
But as we learned from Ontario reader E.T. and her HVACR installation and service company, TEVs may be "sticky" right out of the box from the manufacturer. At left: a KeepRite™ air conditioner compressor / condensing unit, newly installed.
The installer used a simple "overcharge" procedure to free the TEV as we describe in this reader report.
Reader Question: new KeepRite® air conditioner not working well: does not cool the house
I placed a comment on the InspectApedia website last night about my new air conditioner not working well. Here are the photos you asked for. Our house is 980 square feet with a finished basement. I have closed all the vents in the basement.
We live in Ontario and are having fluctuating temperatures. Today it is 72F outside with an expected high of 85. I turned the air conditioner on yesterday when the outside temp was 65F and the temp inside my house was 78 because it had been a hot day and the air conditioner was not able to bring the temperature down.
I set the thermostat for 72F. It took 5.5 hours to bring the temp down to 76F, which is when we went to bed. Thorough the night it managed to bring the temp down to 72. In the morning I turned the thermostat up to 73 and the air conditioner has not stopped running, even momentarily, since I got up this morning. The couple of times I woke through the night it was running as well (I have a young baby).
I was not given a manual, only an invoice for the unit and the work done. It was installed 4 weeks ago. We had the ducts cleaned 3 years ago and they do need cleaning again - I have an appointment booked for Friday. If you would like to see the emails that were exchanged with the installer I can forward them to you.
Thank you very much for getting back to me so quickly. I appreciate that I am able to ask questions this way. - E.T. 7/21/2014
Reply: why doesn't the installer fix their installation SNAFU?
I see in your photos a newly installed air conditioning system that by your description certainly is not cooling.
Your additional photo (left) shows that a refrigerant-drier was installed, though I can't tell from the image if it's in the right direction or not. The flow direction is marked plainly on the canister label.
Something as simple as failure to adequately clean (pull a vacuum) and filter the refrigerant system could cause the system not to cool even if the compressor and air handler themselves seem to be working.
It's usually easy to diagnose a new system by checking refrigerant charge, pressures, temperatures, and current draw. Why didn't the installing company return to fix it?
Enlarging your third photograph of the data tag on the KeepRite condenser / compressor unit (shown at below left) gives us more information about this unit.
The Product model number begins with N4A318K ... which is the same as found on Tempstar® R-410A refrigerant air conditioning compressor / condenser units in the N4A3 series. These units use a Copeland® compressor and are factory-charged with R-410A refrigerant.
It's possible that your KeepRite® air conditioner is using the same equipment components, re-branded with the KeepRite® name.
Decoding the Model Data on a KeepRite® Air Conditioning Compressor / Condenser Unit
Since you were given no information whatsoever about your equipment, not even an installation/operation manual we're providing some data here.
Decoding the KeepRite® product number, N4A318KC100, based on TempStar's data (cited below)
N = "Tempstar Entry" brand ( KeepRite®-branded equipment, according to the manufacturer cited below, uses a product nomenclature beginning with a K, such as KMHA050 H2- HT4A-A)
4 = Refrigerant is R-410A
A = Air Conditioner (H would indicate a heat pump)
3 = SEER = 13
18 = 18,000 BTUH or 1 1/2 tons of cooling capacity
K = Voltage code 208/230V - 1- 60 (single phase 60 cycle)
Reader Follow-up: sticking thermostatic expansion valve on new AC installations
I had the oven on for approximately 20 minutes at lunch time. The inside temp has risen and is staying at 76F although it is 72F outside and I have the thermostat set for 73. The air conditioner still has not stopped running. We have two dogs, our ducts do need cleaning as I mentioned before. But we did have it done 3 years ago.
Can this affect the air conditioner functioning to this extent? The unit is obviously working because it did finally bring the temp down through the night and maintained it this morning - but why it's struggling so hard is unclear to me.
The A/C installer did identify the problem and he came back to fix it.
I'm relaying the information that I recall from what he told us so it may not be perfectly clear, but he said the diaphragm on the TY [TEV or Thermostatic Expansion Valve- Editor] valve (??i think) was sticking on the new installs and causing it to not be seated properly.
When he contacted the manufacturer they advised to overcharge the system and force it open further, which would cause it to then close properly and seat the valve.
I hope I got the information right, as this seems to be an innate problem with these units and I would hope that this information could be useful to someone else down the road.
I also want to say that I found this website just through a Google search when we were having the issues with the A/C and I was feeling desperate that something had to be wrong and was being told that it probably wasn't. You provide an invaluable service allowing yourself to be contacted with questions and providing service to others the way you do. It's a very generous thing to do and do and I, for one, am grateful that you took the time to respond. Thank you very much!
I was very glad that our install person kept coming back and looking into the issue and finally got it fixed.
Reply: Expansion Valve SNAFUs
Indeed even a small amount of dirt or debris in a new refrigeration system can foul up the thermostatic expansion valve causing it to fail to operate properly. If the installer is making an error in cleanliness during initial installation, or if s/he forgets to install the proper refrigerant filter/dryer on the refrigerant lines, or if the refrigerant charge is incorrect the TEV may jam or fail to open and close properly. Of course it's true that the TEV itself could be defective.
The result is failure to release refrigerant at the proper rate into the cooling coil in the air handler. In turn that would allow the air handler to run without adequately cooling the building.
Reader Follow-up: using a refrigerant "overcharge" to clear a stuck TEV
Our air conditioner installer installed an identical unit to ours (a Keeprite) at another customer's house this week and was having the same issues as us. He contacted the manufacturer and was told that there is an issue in that model with a valve not closing properly on installation. The unit needs to be overcharged which forces the valve open so that it snaps shut. He came tonight to do just that and it seems to be cooling.
I will be able to send more information about the specific valve etc when my husband gets home as he understands it better than I do, but I wanted to send an update to let you know that the problem has been found and in a case anyone writes in with a similar issue.
Reply: watch out for refrigerant overcharging
Watch out: The overcharge needs to be removed lest the compressor motor be destroyed.
Watch out: warranty coverage: You should register your product to assure proper warranty protection, and you should obtain the owners or installation manual for your air conditioner from the installer or if that contractor cannot help you, use the contact information we provide above to contact the company. Our search of the KeepRite websites we found did not provide links to manuals or installation guides for equipment matching your product number.
You had told me that the overcharge needs to be removed, so I checked and he did remove it at the time.
Company Contact Information for KeepRit®e & TempStar® air conditioning & heat pump product types & series
KeepRite® Heating & Cooling Products, Website: http://www.keeprite.com/ (At this website the company does not provide an address, company information, nor contact information). The KeepRite website does cite HVAC contractors in West Chester OH, USA, and Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Other contact information for KeepRite® Refrigeration is at http://k-rp.com/node/149, Factory telephone: 1-800-463-9517 Email for Warranty claims: warranty@k-r0pcom Customer Support Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The KeepRite® compressor/condenser unit features a two-stage scroll-type compressor motor and the company cites a 10-year warranty.
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 "Air Conditioning & Refrigeration I & II", BOCES Education, Warren Hilliard (instructor), Poughkeepsie, New York, May - July 1982, [classroom notes from air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance and repair course attended by the website author]
 Thanks to Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, for assistance in technical review of the "Critical Defects" section and for the photograph of the deteriorating gray Owens Corning flex duct in a hot attic. Mr. Cramer is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator.
 Thanks to Jon Bolton, an ASHI, FABI, and otherwise certified Florida home inspector who provided photos of failing Goodman gray flex duct in a hot attic.
 Thanks to Scott at SJM Inspect for suggesting this EPA document and for technical editing remarks regarding our air conditioning website,
SJM Inspection Service LLC, serves the entire state of CT, sjminspect.com 203-543-0447 or 203-877-4774
 Thanks to Joe Panimondo for technical editing, April 2011
 This website discusses these air conditioning and heat pump terms and problems: Air Conditioners: Central Air Conditioning Troubleshooting & Repair Guide: How to Inspect, Diagnose, & Repair Central Air Conditioning: Defects in A/C compressors, air handlers, duct work, and controls. We explain how to inspect & repair central air conditioning systems and for homeowners we also answer basic HVAC questions such as what are the basic air conditioning components? We provide guidance in determining air conditioning cooling capacity & energy efficiency, Troubleshooting air conditioning compressor problems, Diagnosing air conditioning air handler problems, Air conditioning condensate problems, Duct system inspections, defects, repairs, Cleaning air conditioning equipment & A/C refrigerants.
 HVAC brands discussed include but are not limited to: Lennox, American Standard, Amana, Everrest, Goodman, Frigidaire, Coleman and Gibson. Brands of related air handling equipment
include Honeywell, Aprilaire, White-Rogers, Broan. Nutone, Fantech, Venmar, Arzel, Hi-Velocity, Vanguard, Wirsbo, Weil McLain, Unico, Heat Link, A.O. Smith, Water Furnace, ClimateMaster, Geo-Excel, Command Aire, Friedrich, LG, Mitsubishi, Sanyo, Hart &
Cooley, Munchkin, Superstor Ultra, Lochinvar and Knight HVAC equipment.
 HVAC Employment: U.S. Department of Labor website describes HVAC jobs and the employment outlook for HVAC technicians.
 HVAC Education, Training Accreditation agencies: Quoting the U.S. DOL HVAC website above:: After completing the programs below, new technicians generally need between 6 months to 2 years of field experience before they are considered proficient. Three accrediting agencies have set academic standards for HVACR programs:
 HVAC Excellence. 1701 Pennsylvania Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20006 Tel: (800) 394-5268. Quoting: HVAC Excellence is a not for profit organization that has been serving the HVACR industry since 1994. It is our goal to improve competency through validation of the technical education process. By setting standards and verifying that they have been met, we inspire the industry to excel. We know that all of the challenges that face our industry are achievable by continuous improvement in the way that we prepare technicians.
 National Center for Construction Education and Research, 3600 NW 43rd Street, Bldg. G, Gainesville, FL 32606, Tel: 888.622.3720, Quoting:
NCCER is a not-for-profit education foundation created to develop industry-driven standardized craft training programs with portable credentials and help address the critical workforce shortage facing the construction industry.
 The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Accreditation, (PAHRA)
2111 Wilson Blvd., Suite 500
Arlington, VA 22201-3001
(703) 524-8800, Quoting: The Partnership for Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration Accreditation (PAHRA) is an independent, third party organization that is a partnership between heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) educators and the HVACR industry that will award accreditation to programs that have met and/or exceeded industry validated standards. This programmatic accreditation program is the only one that is supported by the major industry associations.
Licensure. Heating, air-conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers are required to be licensed by some States and localities. Requirements for licensure vary greatly, but all States or localities that require a license have a test that must be passed. The contents of these tests vary by State or locality, with some requiring extensive knowledge of electrical codes and others focusing more on HVACR-specific knowledge. Completion of an apprenticeship program or 2 to 5 years of experience are also common requirements.
In addition, all technicians who purchase or work with refrigerants must be certified in their proper handling. To become certified to purchase and handle refrigerants, technicians must pass a written examination specific to the type of work in which they specialize. The three possible areas of certification are: Type I—servicing small appliances; Type II—high-pressure refrigerants; and Type III—low-pressure refrigerants. Exams are administered by organizations approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, such as trade schools, unions, contractor associations, or building groups.
HVAC Training Courses, Schools: HVAC Technician Training Schools [http://technicianschool.net/hvac-technician-training-schools/], lists the following schools offering technical courses may offer specific training programs for potential careers, including HVAC technicians. Among HVAC schools that website lists are
Everest Colleges [http://www.everest.edu],
Florida Career College
7891 Pines Blvd
Hollywood, FL 33024
2299 Vauxhall Road
Union, NJ 07083
NOTE: when considering an HVAC training course or school, check the HVAC education accrediting associations listed above.
 Ratib Bakera is member of Refrigeration Service Engineers Society (RSES), an International
training organization for the HVACR industry provides educational and certification programs to HVACR professionals of all experience levels. www.rses.org provides information on the organization and its training materials. Independent testing and certification of HVAC technicians is provided by North American Technician Excellence - NATE - see www.natex.org.
NATE is supported by ASHRAE, the US EPA, and a host of other trade and professional associations.
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 Lennox air conditioning and heat pump owners manuals for air conditioners, air handlers, furnaces, heat pumps, indoor air quality systems, packaged units, water heaters, zone controls and other controls such as thermostats, are provided by Lennox at http://www.lennox.com/support/manuals.asp
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Features covered in depth include: descriptions of typical styles, characteristics and requirements, testing, listing, reporting, certifying, packaging and product marking.
Guidelines for proper installation are treated and illustrated in depth, featuring connections, splices and proper support methods for flexible duct. A single and uniform method of making end connections and splices is graphically presented for both non-metallic and metallic with plain ends."
The printed manual is available in English only. Downloadable PDF is available in English and Spanish.
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 "Flexible Duct Media Fiberglas™ Insulation, Product Data Sheet", Owens Corning - see owenscorning.com/quietzone/pdfs/QZFlexible_DataSheet.pdf "Owens Corning Flexible Duct Media Insulation is a lightweight, flexible, resilient thermal and acoustical insulation made of
inorganic glass fibers bonded with a thermosetting resin."
"Air Conditioning & Refrigeration I & II", BOCES Education, Warren Hilliard (instructor), Poughkeepsie, New York, May - July 1982, [classroom notes from air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance and repair course attended by the website author]
 FlowKinetics LLC, 528 Helena Street
Bryan, Texas 77801 USA, Tel: (979) 680-0659, Email: email@example.com, Website: www.flowkinetics.com, "FKS 1DP-PBM Multi-Function Meter
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"Pressure sensor", retrieved 7/16/2012
 "GE Zoneline® Owners Manual and Installation Instructions, Heat/Cool Model 2900, Heat Pump Model 3900", General Electric Corporation, [copy on file].
 "GE Zoneline® Owners Manual and Installation Instructions, Heat Pump Model 5800", General Electric Corporation, [copy on file].
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Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
"Air Conditioning & Refrigeration I & II", BOCES Education, Warren Hilliard (instructor), Poughkeepsie, New York, May - July 1982, [classroom notes from air conditioning and refrigeration maintenance and repair course attended by the website author]
Fiberglass: Indoor Air Quality Investigations: Fiberglass in Indoor Air, HVAC ducts, and Building Insulation
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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