Your air conditioner has a part called the start capacitor. This electrical component is responsible for allowing electricity to begin flowing through the rest of the AC unit when it first turns on. While the start capacitor is a small part, having it fail has big consequences for the overall operation of your air conditioner. Therefore, as someone with an air conditioner, you should be aware of the signs of a broken start capacitor and what to do if your AC unit develops this problem.
Signs of a Broken Start Capacitor
When the start capacitor first starts wearing out, you may start hearing your air conditioner click a few times before it finally kicks on. This is the capacitor trying, and failing, to "fire up" the unit before finally doing so. You may also notice a burning odor around your air conditioner. Soon after this, your AC unit will likely fail completely. Depending on how your AC is designed, it may not turn on at all. Or, it might keep blowing air, but that air will be warm. People also tend to notice an increase in energy bills when their start capacitor is failing.
How to Handle a Broken Start Capacitor
If you suspect that your AC unit has a broken start capacitor, stop using it. While the risk is low, there is some risk of starting a fire or shocking someone if you leave the unit on with a broken capacitor. It's also hard on the AC unit to keep attempting, but failing, to switch on. Either turn your thermostat to "off," or turn off the AC's power supply.
Next, contact an HVAC contractor. They can repair your air conditioner. Replacing a start capacitor is a relatively simple repair that almost any HVAC contractor should be able to perform. The capacitor is usually located towards the back of your AC compressor. Your HVAC technician can basically unscrew the old capacitor, screw a new one into place, and then hook up a few wires. They'll do a test run to make sure your AC is working properly again, and then they'll be on their way.
Air conditioner start capacitors are not huge parts, but they are essential for the function of your air conditioner. If you've noticed signs of a failing or failed start capacitor, contact an HVAC repair company ASAP. This simple repair is almost always worth making. For more information on AC services, contact a company near you.