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Air Conditioning Guide: What Are Capacitors?

In order to operate effectively, your air conditioner requires that various components, circuits, and connections work correctly. Among the key components of your AC unit are capacitors. Without these, the motors that power your compressor and fans won’t function.

Capacitors are comparable to short-term batteries. They are small cylindrical objects that store energy within an electrostatic field. Attached to motors, they send a jolt of energy to start up the motor or a regular series of jolts to keep the motor working. Your AC capacitors work with the compressor, the blower motor, and the outside fan.

What Happens When Capacitors Fail?

Excess power can cause capacitors to sustain damage, and eventually wear down to the point that they can no longer hold a charge. You’ll usually hear a clicking sound from within the cabinet if a capacitor is beginning to fail. When this happens, it’s important to call for repairs right away, before one of the motors stops working.

When a run or start capacitor dies, the motor to which it is attached will try to come on, but hum instead of activating. Eventually, this will cause the motor to burn out, and require a full replacement. Failing capacitors can also cause your air conditioner to struggle when turning on, a process called “hard starting.” Hard starting places significant stress on the compressor and other parts of the air conditioner, requiring repairs.

Can I Prevent Capacitor Failure?

The best way to prevent most electrical system failures within your air conditioner is to schedule regular maintenance. This will ensure that your system is being inspected and repaired on a routine basis, and could prevent small problems from becoming larger ones. Remember, you should never attempt to replace an AC capacitor on your own, as this can be dangerous if not handled correctly.

Contact Donald P. Dick today for air conditioning repairs in Clovis, CA and surrounding areas.