Signs Your Air Conditioner Capacitor Has Gone Bad

Is your air conditioner’s outdoor unit making humming noises while your monthly energy bills have started to spike? It’s time to look for the signs that your air conditioner capacitor has gone bad. Learn about various indications of a faulty capacitor and how to fix this issue with expert advice from Robert B. Payne. While it may not be easy for you to tell that the capacitor is responsible for the problems your AC is experiencing, the following signs can help you narrow down the cause.

Signs Your Air Conditioner Capacitor Has Gone Bad
HVAC service technician changing dirty air filter in the central ventilation system
  • An incessant hum emanating from your outdoor unit
  • Your monthly energy bills keep going up
  • Is your air conditioning system only blowing warm air?
  • Your AC system is old and outdated
  • Your AC refuses to switch on
  • A burning odor is emanating from your outdoor unit

What Is An Air Conditioner Capacitor?

Before you can tell if a capacitor is failing, it’s important to understand what exactly it is and what it does. An air conditioner capacitor is a part of the system that helps to start and run the compressor and fans in your AC unit. It stores electricity until the motor needs it, then releases it in order to maintain a steady flow of power. If this part fails, your AC unit will no longer be able to properly function. 

Routine capacitor testing can help you identify problems with this part before they become serious. If, however, your capacitor has gone bad, it is important to replace it as soon as possible. Failing to do so can result in costly repairs and even more expensive energy bills.

6 Telltale Signs Your AC Capacitor Is Going Bad

1. Humming Noises From The Outdoor Unit

Humming coming from your outdoor unit. This is often one of the first signs that something is wrong with your air conditioner’s capacitor. If you hear a loud humming sound coming from your outdoor unit, it could be a sign of a failing capacitor. You should turn it off and then on again after a while to see if the hum persists. If the problem remains, you should contact a professional HVAC technician to diagnose the issue.

2. Increasing Energy Bills

Another common sign that your capacitor is going bad is a sudden increase in your energy bills. As capacitors slowly start to lose their efficiency, they start to draw more power than necessary for your air conditioning system to function properly. Your HVAC system will then push itself to keep your home cool and comfortable. To achieve this, it lowers the AC’s voltage rating. This can lead to much higher energy bills over time. If the problem persists, you’ll continue to see your energy bills rise. A new capacitor, when properly installed by a licensed HVAC professional, could help lower your energy bills and get your HVAC system working at full capacity again.

3. Only Warm Air Is Coming From Your Vents

If you start to notice that the air coming out of your AC unit is only warm, it’s likely a sign that your capacitor has gone bad. The capacitor helps the fan motor run properly and when it starts to fail, then it won’t be able to provide enough power for the fan motor and can cause warm air to come out of the vents. When this happens, an HVAC technician will need to look at your unit to determine if the capacity needs to be replaced. While a new capacitor does not come cheap, it’s better than having to replace the entire unit.

4. Your System Is Old And Outdated

If your AC system is older and not functioning as well as it used to, it could be a sign that the capacitor needs to be replaced. Over time, capacitors can start to wear out and fail due to age, causing them to no longer provide enough power for the system to function properly. If your system is more than 10 years old, it’s a good idea to have a professional come and inspect your unit to see if the capacitor needs to be replaced. Sometimes it may be better to invest in a new system that is more energy efficient instead of replacing the old capacitor only.

5. Your Air Conditioner Fails To Switch On

One of the most common signs that your air conditioner’s capacitor has gone bad is when your AC system takes longer to turn on or fails to turn on at all. This is due to the capacitor’s inability to provide enough power for the system to start. In this case, you should turn off your AC unit and contact a professional HVAC technician for an inspection and repair. While it may be tempting to open up the unit if you’re not trained to do so, you run the risk of damaging the system further.

6. A Burning Smell Coming From Your Outside AC Unit

Bad capacitors can cause burning smells coming from your outdoor AC unit. This is due to the buildup of dust, dirt, and other contaminants that can accumulate inside the capacitor, causing an obstruction. It may also be the result of wear and tear or too much strain on the system. The motor may start to overheat, which causes a burning smell. If this is happening to you, it’s time to install a new one. While lubricating the bearings may give you temporary relief, an HVAC technician should be consulted to determine if the capacitor needs to be replaced.

If you’re experiencing any of the signs mentioned above, it’s time to get your air conditioner capacitor checked out by an HVAC professional. A bad capacitor can cause many issues and result in costly repairs or even complete replacement if left unchecked. It’s always best to get any potential problems with your AC system diagnosed by a pro early on to prevent further damage or unnecessary costs. With proper maintenance, you can keep your AC system running smoothly for years to come.

Contact Us For All of Your HVAC Needs

If you’re unsure if your air conditioner capacitor needs replacing or if you need any other type of AC repair services, the team at Robert B. Payne is here to help. Our experienced technicians can diagnose and repair any issues with your system quickly and efficiently, so you can rest assured that your HVAC system is in safe hands. Contact us today at 540-373-5876 for all of your air conditioner needs!