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How Bad Capacitors Affect Air Conditioning Systems

Capacitors are the most essential components of any air conditioning unit or electro-mechanical machine. Capacitors store energy in a field that is electrostatic. Capacitors provide the jolt an automobile motor needs to start it up and they also stabilize a motor’s voltage. In air conditioning units, capacitors are connected to three motors including the outdoor fan motor, the blower motor, and the compressor motor. These motors have separate capacitors to start them up, known as the start capacitor, and a run capacitor that keeps them running.

A common reason as to why air conditioners malfunction is due to a failing capacitor. If these problems are discovered early on, technicians can replace them with new ones without any harmful effects to the unit. But if these capacitors are ignored, your air conditioning unit will begin to malfunction at a time when you’ll likely need it the most.

Air Capacitor Problems

One of the most common problems a bad capacitor experiences is something known as “hard starting.” The AC’s compressor experiences difficulties starting up, stutters when one attempts to turn it on, and then shuts off after a few minutes. There are numerous causes for hard starts, including a compressor approaching the end of its life (which is one of the worst problems). Another common cause is a faulty start capacitor. It’s not easy to diagnose a bad start capacitor, which is why a technician will take the time to examine it to ensure there is no serious damage to it including leaking oil, splitting, or bulging. They will run electrical tests as well.

Motors that are connected to start and run capacitors might still try to start if one or both capacitors fail, resulting in a humming motor that may only run for a few minutes. Should this problem persist, the motor will become hot and will burn out, at which time the entire motor will have to be replaced. If you encounter an issue with motors not staying on or a strange humming sound, don’t use the air conditioner and call us at once.

Another important thing you should look for in a capacitor that’s about to fail is a clicking sound. If you begin to hear this sound, you might be able to head off this problem before the fans or the compressor stop working.

With capacitor problems in general such as a loss of charge or damage, you should have the entire capacitor replaced by a professional who will not only find the right replacement but will also be able to remove your old capacitor safely. You should never try to do this yourself. One such reason is oil leakage – if your capacitor has any oil leaking from it, that can be extremely dangerous to touch.