Is Your AC Capacitor Worn Out?

It’s been a long, hot summer here in Fullerton, CA, and it’s not done yet. Your air conditioner has likely been on call all day, every day, which means it’s been subjected to a great deal of pressure and stress. We tend to see a lot of breakdowns and repair calls this time of the year, much of it related to older or worn parts that are starting to buckle under the strain. That can include the capacitor, which is one of the most important parts of your air conditioner and which can shut down your entire system when it runs into trouble.

The Capacitor’s Job

The capacitor exists to provide an electrical charge for certain key components, such as the compressor and the fan motors. Most air conditioners have two capacitors, the start capacitor to fire the system up, and the run capacitor (which generates a smaller charge) to keep it running until you turn the system off. It’s a lot of work for one little component, and while they’re built to last, so are our Southern California summers.

What Happens When There’s Trouble

In the worst cases, a faulty capacitor will be enough to prevent the system from turning on, which actually has a silver lining in that you know the AC has a problem. Less severe signs include a lack of cool air (caused by trouble with the compressor), trouble with the air flow (created by a slow fan motor) and short cycling, which is when the system turns on and off quickly, without properly cooling the air in the interim. In some cases, a failing capacitor may cause the metal of the AC cover to bulge slightly, or emit an oily substance.

If you suspect a capacitor problem or any other kind of trouble with your air conditioner, give the professionals at JC Mechanical, Inc a call today!

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