August 14, 2022
AC Repair in Sacramento, CA

In the Sacramento Valley, our AC units are crucial for helping us beat the heat. Around here, a working Air Conditioner is almost a requirement for comfort. One Problem that you may encounter is a failing capacitor. Read on to learn all about how to replace an AC unit’s capacitor.

Signs That You May Need To Replace An AC Unit’s Capacitor

Air conditioning system capacitors are crucial for cool air delivery in your system. When they go out or are nearing failure, there are some warning signs.

  • Cooling cycle slow to start
  • The cooling cycle fails to begin
  • No cold air
  • Random shutdowns
  • Burning smells or smoke
  • Higher electricity bills

The confusing part is that different problems have similar symptoms. For example, if the unit will not cycle on at all. This suggests that you may have a faulty motor or wires that are not making a good connection.

Your technician will usually go through a troubleshooting sequence to narrow down the problem. They will use their electrical measurement devices to figure out which cause is creating these symptoms.

Capacitors are parts we commonly replace on central air conditioning units. They will last in normal circumstances for several years to a decade or more. If your AC is over a decade old, the capacitor likely just reached its normal end of service.

Other causes of capacitor failure include a short circuit, an overheated capacitor, a power surge, or even a lightning strike. Although lightning strikes are rare here, we see quite a number of extreme heat events.

After replacing any failed parts, we will ensure that the rest of your system is functioning at proper benchmarks. We do this to give you peace of mind that your central air unit will continue to keep your home comfortable.

What Is a Capacitor?

You can identify a capacitor in your central air conditioning unit quite easily. It is a fairly large cylinder that is very shiny. A capacitor acts similarly to a battery. It stores energy for use later on.

As you know, air conditioning units use quite a bit of electricity. When a unit first powers up, it needs a good amount of electricity to get the motors running. The amount needed is more than the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) can supply through your wall outlet.

That is where the capacitors kick in. They supply the needed juice, along with more from your outlet, that gets the motors running and the unit cycling on. Then, the capacitors keep supplying more electrical current as the unit goes through the cooling cycle, just at a reduced rate.

Why Not Wait to Fix It

You might not feel any rush to fix an air conditioner that is still mostly working. Whether the failing part is a capacitor or something else, this is always a mistake. Running a damaged AC unit will just lead to more problems down the road.

In the case of a failing capacitor, this can mean a loss of power supply to your AC unit. This can lead to other parts of your air conditioning system straining and failing.

The capacitor is cheap to replace. Other parts of your air conditioning system that can also fail are not all cheap to replace. For example, failed condensers can be very expensive to replace.

By the way, the same is true of failure to keep your air conditioning unit up on its regular maintenance schedule. Parts that are not maintained on a regular schedule can strain the system, leading to premature failure.

Why We Advise You to Leave the Capacitor Repair to Us

These capacitors store incredible amounts of energy. As you know, 120-volt alternating current is nothing to play around with. We know how to discharge the capacitor before we remove it from your system.

If you handle a capacitor without discharging it, you risk getting a very bad electrical shock. If you are reading this article and need an answer to this question, your electrical skill level is not such that you should risk your safety in trying to save a small amount of money.

Also, there is no use in replacing a part that has not failed and that does not show signs of failing. A professional can properly diagnose your problems. They will use advanced tools and industry experience to figure out the best way to fix your AC.

Call A Trusted Company To Help With Your Capacitor

At Gallagher’s Plumbing, Heating and Air, we have offices in Sacramento, Olivehurst, and Los Molinos. We have proudly served the community for over 30 years. Feel free to give us a call to help with any of your air conditioning needs.

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