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How to Tell If Your AC Capacitor Is Bad

How to Tell If Your AC Capacitor Is Bad

When the air conditioner is not working properly, all sorts of questions come to mind: What now? Is it an easy fix? How much is this going to cost?

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If you’re the type of person who likes to try to troubleshoot problems on your own, you’re in good company. This is why there are so many DIY websites and YouTube videos. While it’s good to learn how to do basic repairs around the home, keep in mind that for more complex air conditioning repair, it is infinitely safer (for you and for your air conditioner) to contact a West Palm Beach air conditioning professional, like the ones we have here at Sansone!.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s determine whether your AC issue is due to a bad capacitor.

What is an AC capacitor?

An AC capacitor, also called a run capacitor, is a small, cylindrical object that sends energy to the motor that powers an air conditioning system. The AC capacitor gives your AC system the initial boost it needs to turn on and also provides continuous power for it to keep running.

The capacitor is just one component that makes up an air conditioning system. This small but mighty piece is a true workhorse, and like all parts of an air conditioning system, isn’t prone to malfunctioning. Without a properly working capacitor, your system won’t be able to function as it should.

If you suspect your air conditioning system’s capacitor is bad, here is everything you need to know about the part and how to troubleshoot and replace a broken one.

Bad AC Capacitor Symptoms

If your air conditioner is not blowing cold air, a bad capacitor may be the reason.

However, look for the simple solutions first: Maybe you need to change the air filters, or it could be one of several other reasons.

Once you rule them out, if your unit is still blowing warm air, the issue may be the capacitor.

The most common signs and symptoms of a bad AC capacitor include:

How to Test an AC Capacitor

If the signs above apply to your situation, walk outside toward the air conditioner’s condenser unit.

Look through the vents for the fan on top of the unit. If your AC fan is not spinning, find a long, thin object (a stick, screwdriver, pliers). Slide it into the vents and gently push one of the fan blades. If the fan starts spinning on its own and keeps spinning, you have a faulty capacitor.

If your air conditioner is making a humming noise but not running, the capacitor is likely broken.

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How to Replace an AC Capacitor

You can purchase a replacement at a hardware store. Then, it’s time to install:

Step 1. Shut off the power to your air conditioning system at the breaker panel

Step 2. Unscrew the side panel of your condenser unit to access the capacitor.

Step 3. Locate the capacitor and discharge the power

Step 4. Dismount the old capacitor and note how the wires are connected

Step 5. Disconnect the wires carefully from the three capacitor connectors, labeled HERM, Fan, and C. Make a note or take a picture of which colored wires connect to which connector for later reference.

Step 6. Install the new capacitor according to the manual

Step 7. Screw the side panel back on the condenser unit.

How to Choose a Replacement Capacitor

If you’re replacing your AC capacitor yourself, you’ll need to select the right replacement. The size and shape of the capacitor aren’t huge factors when it comes to replacement, but you will want to know two things: the voltage rating and the microfarads (μF).

The voltage rating does not have to be identical to your current capacitor, but the microfarad will need to match. The voltage and microfarad are marked on your capacitor and may read something similar to “35/5 μF and 370V.” Be sure to note this and the make and model of your air conditioning system when you visit your local home goods store.

Ultimately, capacitors are universal parts, so shape, size, brand, and other basic factors aren’t exactly important — just remember to get the appropriate voltage and microfarad and you’ll be set.

Sansone AC Repair Services in South Florida

If you’re in need of AC capacitor replacement, look no further than the professionals at Sansone. We’ve been in business for more than four decades and pride ourselves on providing West Palm Beach and South Florida residents with the best in HVAC services and customer care.

Contact us today to learn more about our quick, efficient, and economical AC repair services, or schedule an appointment online below.
Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656

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