When your AC is not working as it should, your mind runs through all possible scenarios. You need a quick answer to your questions and a prompt solution to go with them. Many times when the AC malfunctions, the problem is very small, as small as a faulty capacitor. But how are you to deduce what is wrong with your AC? You are in good hands, for today we will tell you all you need to know about a bad capacitor. Moreover, this post will also enhance your knowledge on how to tell if capacitor is bad on AC unit.
Let’s Begin With The Basics…
1. What Is A Capacitor – A capacitor is a device which is used to store an electric charge. It consists of one or more pairs of conductors. These conductors are separated by an insulator.
2. What Does A Capacitor In AC Look like – The AC capacitor looks like a tall and shiny cylinder with wire connectors leading to it.
3. Function Of Capacitor In AC – An AC capacitor is also known as a “Run Capacitor”. Its function is to direct energy to the motor that powers the air conditioning unit. The capacitor in the AC provides the starting boost that is needed to turn it on and also gives constant power for it to keep running. It achieves this task by initializing a phase difference amid two windings that are inside the motor. This generates an initial starting torque which helps to turn the rotor of the compressor motor.
4. How Long Do AC Capacitors Last – With great strides in technology, today’s AC capacitors can last as long as 20 years. Some factors, like undersized capacitor and heat exposure, can cause them to wear out and go bad much faster.
Signs Of A Bad Capacitor
How to tell if the capacitor is bad on AC unit? This is more a matter of ruling out the most obvious problems first. Start with the basic solutions first, like changing the air filters and cleaning the ducts. If one or more of the following symptom still persists, it is an indicator of a bad capacitor –
1. AC does not start immediately instead takes some time.
2. It does not blow cold air.
3. When it starts, you can hear a distinctive humming sound.
4. Your air conditioner shuts off without any reason.
5. The air conditioner fails to start at all.
Your AC taking a while to start and not starting at all are dead giveaways of a faulty capacitor. For the other symptoms, there could be some other reason as well. These could vary from a refrigerant leak to clogged ducts and filters. As already stated above, look for simple answers first.
What Does A Bad Capacitor Do To AC?
When the AC capacitor goes bad, it prevents the outdoor AC unit from functioning effectively. The possible scenarios include –
1. The fan may not spin
2. The compressor may not start.
3. The compressor may shudder and balk while starting
4. The compressor may shut off quickly.
5. A humming sound comes from the motor, and yet it does not start.
Any of these possible scenarios will put tremendous strain on the motor can cause the motor to burnout.
How To Tell AC Capacitor Is Bad
So your AC takes time to start, or maybe it’s not starting at all, these point to a defective capacitor. But how can you tell if the capacitor is really defective, for sure? Easy enough. Here’s what you need to do –
1. Check Condition Of Capacitor – The outer metallic shiny cover of the capacitor which protects the inside components should not bulge or have any cracks or leaks. If it has either of these, the capacitor is bad. In some extreme cases, you may even see smoke rising from it accompanied by a burning odor. Fluid oozing out from the base of the capacitor is also an indication of a bad capacitor.
2. Multimeter Check – Do this, if and only if, you know how to use a multimeter. First, switch off the power to the AC unit. Then apply leads to the capacitor so as to drain its stored energy. Now, connect one lead to the ground wire by touching it and with the other lead, turn by turn, touch all other wires. This will dispel the electrical charge held by the capacitor. You may then check capacitance across the terminals on the capacitor.
Capacitors can cause serious harm to a person if not handled correctly. Since they hold an electrical charge even when the unit is disconnected, they are capable of giving a strong electrical shock. It is thus necessary to first drain their energy. Once you are sure that the complete power has been dissipated from it, you can do further investigation. Since all of us are not electrically and technically oriented, it is strongly advised that you let a trained professional deal with such a problem. Your local AC technician or your local HVAC company are more than capable of handling these issues.
Choosing A Replacement Capacitor
If the AC capacitor is indeed faulty, you will have to replace it with a new one. But, you cannot just pick any capacitor as a replacement. The things that matter are not the brand, size, and shape of the capacitor. What truly matters is the voltage rating and the base unit of capacitance (microfarads). This information will be mentioned on the original capacitor. Take its pic so that you don’t forget and have the necessary information handy.
AC Repair Services In Palm Springs Florida
For your own safety, we strongly recommend that you do not try and troubleshoot AC problems on your own. The elite team of Aztil Air Conditioning is always at your service. We are your local HVAC specialists, and we are geared to handle all your AC problems 24/7. You can contact us either through our website, or you may call +1-888-729-8452.