If your air conditioner is not working properly, you may be concerned about the cause for the malfunction — and how much it’s going to cost to fix it. While the culprit could be many issues, a common cause is a faulty capacitor. What, exactly, is that part of your system, and how do you know if it’s what’s causing your AC to fail?
What is a capacitor?
Every single machine with a motor has a capacitor. It’s a relatively small component that’s shaped like a cylinder. Its function is to send energy to the air conditioner’s motor — in turn, making the system operate when you turn it on. Eventually, its efficiency is diminished with regular wear and tear.
How to Tell if the AC Capacitor is Bad
The telltale signs of a bad capacitor are obvious. If your AC is taking a while to start once you turn it on, if it shuts off on its own, if you can hear a humming sound while it’s running, or if it simply just won’t start, the likely issue is that you need a new capacitor.
An easy way to confirm this suspicion is to walk outside your home, to where the condenser unit is located. Look through the vents on the back to see if the fan is spinning. If the AC is turned on but the fan isn’t spinning, use a long branch to push one of the fan blades. If once it has this little push the machine comes to life, the issue is definitely a faulty capacitor. Another giveaway is that you could hear a clicking sound coming from your air conditioner before it started malfunctioning.
Can you replace a capacitor on your own?
Yes. Make sure to note the voltage rating (labeled as V on the old capacitor) and microfarad (labeled as μF). This is crucial, since the microfarad of the new capacitor has to be exactly the same as the old capacitor. Other than these two factors, the size or shape of the capacitor won’t matter.
How to Replace Your AC Capacitor
Once you have the correct replacement part, follow these steps:
Step 1. Turn off the air conditioner — both at the thermostat and breaker panel.
Step 2. With a screwdriver, unscrew the back panel of the condenser unit.
Step 3. Locate the capacitor. If you don’t know what it looks like, click here.
Step 4. Take a picture of the connectors (labeled HERM, fan, and C), so that you know how to connect them correctly once you install the new capacitor.
Step 5. Disconnect the old capacitor.
Step 6. Install the new capacitor, following the manual’s instructions.
Step 7. Reinstall the back panel on the condenser unit.
Step 8. Remember to turn back on the AC at the breaker panel.
If the process sounds confusing or you don’t want to deal with it yourself, you should contact a licensed technician to do it for you. Another advantage of doing so is that the HVAC professional can notice any additional issues that may later become a problem with your AC — such as a failing compressor, a blown fuse, or diminished airflow. Having a technician regularly provide maintenance to your air conditioner will ensure the system runs efficiently, which saves you money on your monthly energy bill and lasts as long as possible.
AC Service in Brevard County
At Colman Air, we understand that sometimes, AC issues happen during the most inconvenient times. This is why we have a 24/7 AC emergency line. Call us if you need assistance ASAP, if you’d like to learn more about faulty capacitors, or to schedule routine HVAC maintenance.
24-HR Emergency Service: (321) 360-7566