Most start capacitor failures are one of two types. Catastrophic failureis usually caused by an electric motor's starting circuit being engaged too long for the intermittent duty rating of a start cap. The top of the start cap has literally been blown off, and the insides have been partially or fully ejected. Similarly, a start cap may just exhibit a ruptured pressure relief blister. In either case, it's easy to tell that the start cap is in need of replacement.
What Is a Capacitor?
When the compressor is doing its job, the capacitor is cycling on and off at a rate of thousands of times per second. That's a lot of work for a little machine part. The life expectancy of the capacitor depends on the age of the part, as well as how often it needs to do its job, such as daily or annually. The cylindrical part pushes energy to the motor that runs the air conditioning unit. It not only turns it on, which is the woosh sound you may hear when the air conditioning system kicks on, but it also keeps the machine purring while it sends cool air throughout the home.
Why Capacitors Go Bad
If voltage varies, this can be a problem for the capacitor. During peak summer months, the power company may raise or lower the line voltage that leads to your home. This taxes the capacitor and ages it rather quickly. This is also why the capacitor tends to go bad right when you need cool air the most. Summer makes the machine work double time. Air conditioners are connected to high voltage so be careful when taking a look at the capacitor, checking the unit for problems or performing routine maintenance.
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