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Capacitor Issues with Your Air Conditioner

Late summer here in Boston, MA can wreak havoc on air conditioning systems, as months of heavy use combine with the inevitable pre-Labor Day heat wave to create problems in many units (especially older ones). Among the issues you need to watch for this time of year is trouble with your capacitors, which can become worn through regular use and result in big trouble for your system.

A capacitor requires professional licensing and training to fix, and can be dangerous for the uninitiated to tamper with. But by understanding how it works and watching for capacitor issues with our air conditioner, you can get a jump on any emerging problems as quickly as possible.

What Is a Capacitor?

Capacitors are used to store an electrical charge, which allows the air conditioner’s electronic components to function. That includes the fan motor and the compressor, which are vital to the air conditioner’s running cycle. Most systems have two types of capacitor: the start capacitor, which works to provide extra torque and start the system properly, and the run capacitor, which provides the character to keep the system running after it has started up.

What Happens When It Fails?

In the worse cases, a failed capacitor will prevent the AC from turning on — a pretty clear sign that you have a problem. On less dire levels, it can cause the fan motor to function at a lower level (reducing the air flow through your system) or the compressor to work (reducing the coolness of the air). Short cycling is also a problem if the outdoor fan doesn’t work as it should: the system will turn on and off rapidly without adequately cooling the home.

If you notice signs of capacitor troubles in your system, turn it off can call in the pros at Cooling Unlimited today!

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