For the average homeowner, the idea of a bad air conditioner capacitor can be daunting. If you are not familiar with the parts of an air conditioning unit, or you don’t feel very mechanically inclined, worry not. A capacitor is a small component of your air conditioner that sends pulses of energy to the motor to help it start up the fan. When a capacitor goes bad, you will still hear your unit kick on and off, but it won’t blow cold air because the fan can’t start spinning.
Diagnosing a Bad Capacitor
The best news of all is that diagnosing a bad capacitor doesn’t necessarily require a lot of skill or knowledge. There are a few simple tests you can perform to determine whether or not the capacitor is at fault. The simplest test is to wait until your condenser unit kicks on, and then use a stick to gently push the fan blades around. If the motor kicks in and the fan keeps running, it’s a sure sign that the starter capacitor is not sending the necessary power pulse to get the fan going.
Replacing a Bad Capacitor
If you have confirmed that the capacitor is at fault, you can easily find an air conditioner capacitor replacement. Air conditioner capacitors are sized specifically for the motor, the replacement must be the exact specifications as the existing run capacitor. Run capacitors typically can’t be found at your local hardware store, you will need to go to an HVAC warehouse or order the part online.
Then, you’ll need to turn off the power at the breaker located on the outside of your house near the unit. Next, you’ll need to locate the capacitor behind the service panel on your unit. Make sure you are wearing protective gear because the capacitor could be storing energy even if it was not functioning properly. Test the capacitor by putting a rubber handled screwdriver across the terminals to discharge any stored power before removing it and replacing it with the new piece.
It is important that you work carefully and install the new capacitor exactly as the old one came out. If you do not feel comfortable identifying and discharging the capacitor safely, the best thing to do is always call an HVAC contractor.
Day & Night Air offers Phoenix AC repair services to homeowners who are suffering in the heat. While a capacitor repair is not difficult, it can be challenging if you are not sure what to look for or how to safely shut off power to the unit, or if you have not identified the capacitor as the cause of your problems. Call us today for more information.