Learn About The Capacitor In Your AC And What To Do When It Goes Bad

If your AC condenser is making a humming noise when it starts or if the compressor struggles to kick on, there could be a problem with the capacitor. A capacitor is an essential part of an AC system. It acts as a battery that supplies a power boost to the fan or compressor motor. Here are some things to know about an AC capacitor and what to do when yours goes bad.

AC Capacitors Differ

Your AC might have a single or dual capacitor. The condenser usually needs two capacitors. One is for the fan motor and the other is for the compressor. Both of these capacitors can be in a single unit to take up less space. This is known as a dual capacitor.

Also, an AC can have both a start and run capacitor. A start capacitor gives the motor an initial power boost that's needed when a motor kicks on, and the run capacitor works while the motor is running to level out power dips and spikes. Choosing the right capacitor for replacement is important so your AC functions properly.

Capacitors May Die Before The AC Wears Out

Capacitors get a lot of use, and they're sensitive to heat and power surges, so they may wear out long before the rest of your air conditioner does. An AC repair technician can identify a bad capacitor by testing it with an HVAC multimeter that's capable of testing the voltage range.

It's possible you'll have to replace the capacitor in your air conditioner at some point, but capacitors aren't too expensive, so the repairs are more affordable than many other types of AC repairs.

What To Do About A Bad Capacitor

It's important to call an AC repair service when your air conditioner isn't working properly because of the risk of doing more damage. For instance, a capacitor that boosts the compressor isn't too expensive to replace, but if you don't have repairs done soon enough, the strain on the compressor can cause the compressor to fail. Compressor problems are among the most expensive repairs, so prompt attention to a bad capacitor is important.

A bad capacitor has to be replaced rather than repaired. It's important to have a properly functioning capacitor, so the capacitor is often replaced any time a motor has to be replaced even if the capacitor isn't bad yet. Replacing a capacitor involves finding the exact replacement capacitor and then connecting the wires to the motor just as the old capacitor was connected.