How to Prevent the Most Common AC Repair: Broken Capacitors

An air conditioning capacitor jump starts the motor and keeps it running. Here’s how to fix one when it breaks down, and who to call when you need help.

Every air conditioner component is important to its overall function, and most repairs end up related to its electrical system. Even one faulty part could cause an HVAC system to malfunction or otherwise become inefficient.

A breakdown of an essential element like a capacitor, however, could shut it down completely. Here’s why the part is so essential, how to know if it’s acting up, and what to do when you notice a problem.

Broken Capacitors

Capacitors: What They Are and What They Do

The capacitor component of an air conditioning unit is a lot like the battery of a car, responsible for sending the electrical impulse that sparks the engine to start.

There are three essential motors involved with an HVAC system. Capacitors impact their effectiveness by jumpstarting the motor, regularly sending impulses to keep them running, and keeping an outside fan functioning efficiently. Without this essential part, the AC unit’s motor won’t work.

How to Diagnose Capacitor Wear and Tear

Air conditioner capacitors have a lifespan, just as car batteries do, and will eventually give out. You may experience any of the following when yours has reached the end of its service life:

  • A clicking sound from within the HVAC unit
  • The motor not coming all the way on
  • Humming from inside the unit
  • A boot-up process that may take longer than normal
  • Hard starting, with the system automatically shutting off after turning on

Any of these symptoms could indicate a failing or failed air conditioning capacitor, and likely mean your residential or commercial HVAC unit will require repairs. Call a technician you trust at your earliest convenience to avoid damage to the system and get your AC back up and running.

AC Repair

How to Avoid Wrecking an AC Capacitor

Regular maintenance is key to keeping any HVAC unit operating at its best. It’s important to have your residential or commercial system serviced a couple of times each year to ensure proper functioning, typically in the spring before the summer heat wave hits and in the fall before the winter months approach. Summer and winter put the most strain on your HVAC unit, as it runs nearly constantly during both seasons to keep your home or work environment comfortable.

A maintenance technician will come to your home or business and run through a checklist of essential HVAC components to ensure optimal activity, including inspecting your capacitor and its effectiveness in all three motor components. Tell your engineer if you have experienced any of the indicators listed above, or if you’ve noticed the following:

  • Noisier-than-average system functions
  • Grinding, banging, clanging, or other harsh and unnatural noises
  • Warm air blowing when using the air conditioning function
  • Cold air blowing when using the heating function
  • Excess humidity
  • Higher-than-average electric bills
  • Temperatures that do not seem to match the number on the thermostat’s display

An HVAC unit functioning at sub-optimal levels may indicate that an element is on the fritz. This could potentially stress other system components, as breakdowns can cause others to work harder or not work at all. Routine maintenance and immediate care when something goes wrong are the best ways to avoid missing out on the cool air your system is supposed to be creating.

Need Expert Help? Give Sig Cox a Call!

Routine maintenance and immediate care when something goes wrong are the best ways to avoid missing out on the cool air your system is supposed to be creating. When the issue has to do with the system’s electrical components, we don’t recommend trying to repair them yourself.

If you suspect you have a faulty capacitor, don’t hesitate to Contact Sig Cox to schedule a service call today.

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