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Blown Capacitor: Summer’s Most Common AC Breakdown

The capacitor is an essential component of a central air conditioning system. This electronic device acts as a conduit between the power source and the air conditioner’s fan. When the capacitor is no longer working, the air conditioner will not be able to cycle and the unit could overheat, resulting in a total air conditioning system breakdown. Understanding the functions of the capacitor, what causes capacitor problems and the symptoms that your unit is on its way to air conditioner heaven could prevent a summer AC meltdown.

What the Capacitor Does

An electric capacitor is a device that stores current and supplies it when needed. Upon starting an air conditioning cycle, the capacitor supplies the fan with an extra amount of current to get it going. The amount of extra electricity supplied by the capacitor ranges from 300 to 500 percent of the normal amount of power required during the cycle of the system. Once the full running speed of the fan is achieved, the capacitor stops supplying the extra electricity and the system draws a steady amount of power until the cycle has completed.

Why Capacitors Break

There are many reasons why the capacitor in an air conditioner blows out, but only an AC repair specialist can pinpoint the exact cause of your situation. Common causes of blown capacitors include:

  • Overheated circuitry
  • Short circuit
  • Power surge
  • Lightning strike
  • Excessive outdoor temperature, hotter than 150F, such as on a rooftop air conditioning unit
  • Wear and tear

Signs of Capacitor Problems

Before the capacitor goes bad, it sometimes exhibits symptoms to alert homeowners to the need for air conditioning maintenance. These warning signs include:

  • Cracks or bulging of the capacitor
  • A burning odor coming from the capacitor
  • Smoke coming from the capacitor
  • Oozing fluid around the capacitor and circuit board
  • Insufficient charge when checked with a multimeter

What To Do When the Capacitor Fails

A blown capacitor is one of the most common reasons why homeowners in Benbrook, TX, need professional air conditioner service. If you notice any of the symptoms of a bad capacitor or if the air conditioning system will not cycle, it is best to call for professional repairs. Because capacitors are connected to live electricity, these repair issues are best left to technicians who are familiar and experienced with these types of malfunctions, like the team at Airwise.

A blown capacitor does not have to ruin your summer. Awareness of the symptoms of a failing device and prompt repair can help prevent further damage and restore comfort to your home. For more information or to schedule a repair with our HVAC contractor in Benbrook, TX, give us a call any time.