How To Know If Your Capacitor Is The Problem

Bad Capacitor?

Key components of your air conditioning system are the capacitors. A capacitor is used to store energy in an electrostatic field. Attached to motors, capacitors perform the job of stabilizing voltage and providing the necessary jolt to start the motor in the first place. In an air conditioner, capacitors are connected to the three main motors: the compressor motor, the blower motor, and the outdoor fan motor. Each of these has a separate capacitor to start it up and to keep it running.

Failing capacitors are one of the common reasons for malfunctions in an AC. Thankfully, if you catch capacitor problems in time, repair technicians and easily swap them out for new ones without any serious effect to the AC. However, if bad capacitors are ignored, you may end up with a non-functioning air conditioning system right when you need one the most.

Troubles from bad capacitors

The most common problem that bad capacitors can cause is “rough starting.” This is when the compressor of an AC has difficulty turning on, stutters trying to turn on, and then shuts off a short while later. There are a number of different causes for hard starting (the worst of which is a compressor approaching the end of its life), but a bad start capacitor is one of the most common. It is not always easy to diagnose that a start capacitor is the problem. Our technician can and will examine the capacitor to see if there is visible damage to it (splitting, bulging, or leaking oil) and run electrical tests to make certain that is the problem.

A motor connected to a run and start capacitor may still attempt to start if one or both of the capacitors has failed, and this will result in a motor that hums and will not remain running for long. If this continues, the motor will begin to grow hot and will eventually burn out, requiring that the entire motor be replaced. If you encounter this humming sound or motors that will not stay on, stop trying to use the air conditioner and call for repairs right away.

Before a capacitor fails, it may start begin to make a clicking noise. This will help alert you to the problem before either the compressor or the fans cease working.

 

In most cases of capacitor problems, such as damage or a loss of charge, the capacitor will need to be replaced. Leave this in the hands of professionals, who will find the right replacement unit and will handle removing the old one safely. (Oil leaking from a capacitor can be dangerous to touch.)

If any of this sounds all too familiar, please, do not hesitate to call and schedule or even ask a few questions!

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