You might have heard that capacitor failures are one of the more common repairs for residential air conditioning systems. If you have a passing familiarity with electrical components, you probably already know that capacitors are energy storage devices that can also smooth out power delivery. Your air conditioner may have one or two capacitors that serve precisely this purpose.
Nearly all residential air conditioning systems will include a start capacitor, and this component is the more common failure point. The start capacitor stores energy to provide an initial jolt to the compressor, serving a similar role to the battery in your car. If this capacitor fails, your air conditioner may struggle to start or fail to start altogether.
Why Are Capacitor Failures So Common?
If there's one thing that all electrical components hate, it's heat! Electrical components will typically fail over time due to age, but heat is often one of the primary culprits for this long-term breakdown. As the capacitor undergoes numerous charge and discharge cycles, the heat will cause the capacitor to degrade and eventually fail.
However, outdoor temperatures, even in very hot climates, won't usually result in premature capacitor failures. Instead, periods of unusually high temperatures can cause a capacitor to fail suddenly. Power surges that push an unusually high charge through the capacitor are one common culprit, as are electrical faults in your air conditioning system.
Can You Prevent Your Capacitors From Failing?
There's nothing you can do to stop your capacitors from failing as they age. Your air conditioner's much more expensive components, such as the compressor, will inevitably outlive the capacitor, and there's nothing wrong with that! If you have an air conditioner well over a decade old, you can probably expect a capacitor failure sooner rather than later.
However, there are certain steps you can take to avoid more premature failures. For example, a common reason for start capacitor failure is a faulty relay that allows the capacitor to remain in the circuit for too long. As a result, the capacitor overheats and overloads. By staying on top of maintenance and repairing wiring issues as you find them, you can help extend the life of your system's capacitor.
Do You Need to Repair a Faulty Capacitor Immediately?
In many cases, a faulty capacitor will prevent your system from turning on since the compressor won't be able to draw enough current to start. However, your system may still run, but your compressor will struggle to turn on. This hard-starting condition can be extremely harmful to your compressor, potentially causing damage to a drastically more expensive component.
The capacitor is a relatively cheap and easy part to replace, so if you suspect your system has a faulty one, there's no reason not to contact an HVAC technician immediately. Repairing your capacitor is a cheap and easy way to get your system running again while protecting its vital components.
For more info, contact a company like Carolina Air Care.