Keeping Your AC System Cleaner

When An Air Conditioning Repair Technician Needs To Replace The Condenser Capacitor

by Yolanda White

One of the more common types of air conditioning repairs is replacing a bad capacitor in the AC condenser. The capacitor is an electronic part that's essential for the fan motor to start up and run. When the capacitor fails, the motor won't be able to operate the fan and the condenser parts will overheat. Here are signs the capacitor is failing, how the part works, and how a condenser capacitor is replaced.

A Failing Capacitor Might Be Noisy

When a capacitor starts to go bad, it might make a humming noise as a signal it's time to call an air conditioning repair service. However, unless you happen to be outside when the AC kicks on, you may not hear the noise.

Other signs the capacitor is bad include your house being too warm or your AC having a burning smell. Your AC might start up and then shut down right away or it may stop working completely.

The Capacitor Provides Power To The Motor

When the thermostat signals the contactor in the condenser to turn on, power is sent to the capacitor and motor so they can start up. A capacitor stores electrical power, so the part is able to provide the extra boost needed to start the fan motor. Motors usually require the most power when they start and use less when they run. Without a capacitor, the motor might strain to start or trip a circuit breaker.

A Bad Capacitor Is Replaced

A bad capacitor is a part that can't be repaired—it must be replaced instead. Your air conditioning repair technician should replace the capacitor right away because if the fan struggles to start, it may burn out and require more repairs.

Replacing a capacitor is one of the easier AC repairs to do. The repair technician shuts down the power to the AC and then removes the outer panel to expose the parts and wiring. The capacitor is exposed once the panel is off, so it's easy to access. However, the repair technician has to discharge the capacitor first since it holds a charge and can deliver a strong shock.

The capacitor is usually held to the AC by a bracket and wiring. The wiring is removed and the capacitor is pulled out of the AC. The technician needs to replace the capacitor with one of the same power rating. They may even consider upgrading the capacitor to add one that supplies power when the AC is running. Every AC needs a start capacitor, and some also have run capacitors to ensure a steady supply of power for the fan motor.

Contact a local AC repair service to learn more.