The AC capacitor is what drives power into the unit, and enables the air conditioner to run. With a failing capacitor, the AC unit cannot properly function, and may not work at all. The capacitor is responsible for delivering a jolt of electrical current to power up air conditioners, so a faulty unit can cause problems for the HVAC system.
Diagnosing a Faulty Capacitor
#1 Humming Noise
One of the most common, tell-tale signs of a failing AC capacitor is a low humming sound coming from the outdoor unit. As the old capacitor struggles to provide the air conditioning unit with that initial jolt of energy, it creates a humming noise as the motor is strained.
#2 Spiking Energy Bills
A faulty capacitor may be fluctuating power going into your air conditioning system, which causes your electrical bills to spike. While there are multiple other components that can cause a sudden increase in electrical consumption, it is a major symptom of a faulty capacitor.
#3 Air Conditioner Won't Work
A completely broken capacitor will no longer jolt the AC unit with that initial spark of electricity, so the air conditioner may not power on at all. When this happens, it means that the capacitor is long overdue for a replacement, and it's time to scout for a new AC capacitor to replace the old capacitor.
How to Replace Your AC Capacitor
Capacitors can be replaced without the help of a professional technician as long as you have adequate knowledge about the AC unit and its electrical components. Do not attempt to replace the capacitor without the proper tools to prevent accidents.
Step 1: Shut Off the Power Source
The first step is to carefully shut off the power source from the AC unit by removing the breaker connected to the outdoor unit through the breaker box. This should stop any currents from running through the capacitor, preventing accidental electric shocks.
Step 2: Open the Capacitor Panel
Locate the capacitor panel on the outdoor portion of your air conditioner, and pry it open. You should see the capacitor, which is a small, battery-shaped component connected to the air conditioning unit.
Step 3: Inspect the Capacitor
Inspect to see whether the capacitor needs changing. The top of the capacitor should be flat, not bulging, curved, or inflated. You can also compare the old and new capacitor to see whether it's time to install a replacement capacitor.
Step 4: Discharge the Capacitor
If the capacitor is in need of a replacement, then begin to discharge the old unit. Take note of the positioning of the wire connections - it helps to take a photo reference for you to connect the wires later on!
One at a time, using the metal portion of the screwdriver, you will need to build a bridge between the C terminal and the HERM/FAN terminals to discharge the capacitor. Work with proper equipment and protective gear as this may cause shocks.
Make sure the terminals are fully drained, and repeat this process two more times. Repeat the process with the C terminal and the FAN terminals. This procedure may produce shocks, so be sure not to touch anything that may conduct electricity such as metal prongs, and wear rubber gloves. You can now safely dislodge the discharged capacitor from its mount.
Step 5: Connect the New Capacitor
Connect the new capacitor by mounting it where the old unit was, and use your reference guide to connect the wires to the correct fittings. Make sure the capacitor fits your air conditioner model, and secure it in the AC system. Close the panel.
Step 6: Test the Capacitor
Test the capacitor by placing the breaker back in the breaker box, and running the AC system. The air conditioner should start up without any problems, and run smoothly throughout its usage.
Air Conditioner Capacitor Replacement Cost
How much does an air conditioner capacitor cost? Air conditioner capacitors may run around $170 on average, depending on the type of unit, brand, and model of the air conditioning unit. Replacement capacitors may cost as much as $380 without the labor costs, but most reputable air conditioner repair shops offer the entire replacement at a packaged deal.
Where to Buy Replacement AC Capacitor
#1 Aircon Repair Shops
We offer purchasing help for our customers here at Luce Aircon, and this includes the capacitor. Our knowledgeable HVAC technicians can scout for the best AC capacitor cost, and repair or replace the AC capacitor for you at reasonable rates!
#2 Home Improvement Stores
Select home improvement stores carry AC capacitors in their catalogs, but it can be difficult to purchase the correct capacitor for your HVAC system. Always take note of the brand, model, and type of unit you have, and inquire with an HVAC technician on the correct capacitor to purchase before buying any aircon component.