Annual Air Conditioning Maintenance Could Keep a Bad Capacitor from Causing a Breakdown

No matter how old your air conditioner is, it should be serviced at least once a year by a licensed professional. The service technician cleans and checks all parts of the condenser and air handler to ensure the equipment is ready for heavy summer use. For instance, the air conditioning technician will probably test the capacitors in the system, since bad capacitors will cause your AC to malfunction. Here is the purpose of the capacitors, how they're tested, and what the repair technician might do if a capacitor fails a test.

The Importance of AC Capacitors

Capacitors help motors work. They act as batteries that provide a surge of power when a motor starts up, and they can provide supplemental power as the motor runs to ensure proper operation. Your AC might have both start and run capacitors. You'll find them in the air handler to help the blower motor and in the condenser to help the fan and compressor.

If a capacitor is bad, it can't supply the power needed for one of these motors to start. That leads to the motor overheating and possibly burning out. A capacitor isn't too expensive to replace, but repairs get more costly if the capacitor isn't replaced in time and a motor burns out and has to be replaced.

A Meter Test Shows If a Capacitor Is Bad

When your air conditioning technician does annual maintenance on your air conditioner, they check the electronic parts with a meter to make sure they're still good. This includes testing the capacitors too. This work has to be done carefully since capacitors hold an electrical charge and they can cause an injury if you handle them improperly.

In addition to testing the capacitors, the technician checks them visually. If a capacitor has a leak or a bulge, the technician can tell that it's bad.

A Bad Capacitor Is Replaced With a New One

If the air conditioning technician finds one of the capacitors has a reading that is out of the normal range, they may recommend replacing the capacitor rather than waiting for it to fail and cause problems. This could prevent a breakdown later and the need for a separate service call.

The service technician disconnects the AC before replacing the capacitor and removes the panel so the old capacitor can be removed. Removal involves unscrewing the bracket that holds the capacitor in place and disconnecting the wires. The new capacitor can then be installed. Two important points are to replace the old capacitor with a new one that has the same voltage rating and to connect the wires in the right places.

With a new capacitor installed and the others checked and found to be fine, you'll have one less thing to worry about over the summer. Finding and replacing a bad capacitor is just one job your air conditioning repair professional does to make sure your AC is in good shape and ready to keep you cool.