With summer rapidly approaching, this is the time when most homeowners are starting to turn on their central air systems, which means it's also the time when many homeowners discover lingering problems from the end of last season. For example, if your air conditioning unit won't turn on but you can hear the motor humming inside, you may have a failed capacitor. Here's what you need to know about this part and what it does.
What Exactly Is a Capacitor?
A capacitor is a small metal cylinder that provides an electrical boost to your air conditioning condenser when the system is turning on. It is installed inside the condenser unit itself, and it only engages briefly when the unit is first coming on because the power demand for the condenser to start up is so significant that it needs that additional boost.
What Are the Signs That the Capacitor Is Failing?
If your air conditioning unit is trying to come on but all you hear is the motor humming inside the condenser, that usually means it's just not getting enough power to overcome that initial startup power draw. That means the capacitor isn't functioning. Sometimes, the problem is intermittent. The early stages of capacitor failure can lead to occasional problems. However, over time it will fail completely.
What Can You Do About a Failed Capacitor?
The good news is that a failed capacitor isn't the end of the world for your air conditioning unit. In fact, it can easily be replaced. You can get a new capacitor from any local air conditioning parts retailer, such as All Appliance Parts of Sarasota, or you can call an HVAC repair technician to handle it for you.
If you decide to replace it yourself, make sure that you turn off the power breaker to the air conditioner first. That way, you don't risk any kind of shock or other injuries should the air conditioner try to turn on while you're working on it.
Then, remove the outside case from your condenser. Locate the capacitor down near the motor. Disconnect and remove the existing capacitor, then replace it with the new one. Make sure it is positioned exactly as the original one was. Put the case back on, restore the power to the unit, and test it out.
If this doesn't resolve the problem, you should reach out to an HVAC technician right away. He or she can determine the source of the issue and repair it to get your AC back up and running again.