Signs of a Bad AC Capacitor

7 Signs of a Bad AC Capacitor

While some appliances are seasonal, there are some that, regardless of the time of the year, will always be needed. Every time in history ushers in life-changing inventions that people in the modern age now get to enjoy, but even long before that, these appliances have reigned and proved their worths to humans. This explains why some people even go as far as taking out loans from the bank to land their dream appliances. Well, you might argue that some do live with the obsession of using tech-inspired appliances, but much more than that is the need to be comfortable, exactly at this point in history. Modern appliances have played a huge role in making our daily lives a whole lot easier than they would have been if these appliances hadn’t existed. Some would argue that we would have adjusted perfectly, that’s right. What’s also right is that we would never get to enjoy the convenience and comfort that come with these appliances if they hadn’t existed.

Without doubts, we now live in a world where impossibilities seldom exist. Who would have thought that a time would come in the world where we’d have home appliances that connect on a single network and could even send signals to one another? Who would have thought that AC temperatures could be controlled from a smartphone or a remote that won’t need you to be in the same room as the unit? That’s the world we live in now and it’s amazing how people have adjusted perfectly to that; it’s almost like we expected this to happen at a point, and the rewards for that are the appliances we have in our world to ease the pressure on us.

Air conditioners come in different sizes and types, making them very possible to get regardless of people’s pocket sizes. Today, there are portable air conditioners that don’t cost much, yet deliver efficiently. AC problems, however, are unfortunately unavoidable, although much of that depends on how much maintenance these units get. The air conditioner happens to be one of those appliances that need to be maintained regularly because of the direct impact it has on health. You can’t afford to have an air conditioner that is releasing bad air into the environment.

We have a detailed guide on what to do if your air conditioner is freezing up. You can read more about it here.

Sales of air conditioners have skyrocketed in the United States over the past 2 decades, and that confirms how much people covet the amazing appliance in their households. We’re going to help you figure out the signs of a bad AC capacitor and get you through the AC capacitor troubleshooting process.

Before we move into the different symptoms of a bad capacitor and how to check if your AC capacitor is bad, let’s briefly look at the things you need to seriously consider before you purchase an air conditioner.

Air conditioners shipments in the U.S. from 2001 to 2020

Since air conditioners in the United States are considered a big deal, it is not a surprise that since 2008, shipments of air conditioners into the country have increased consistently yearly. According to Arne Holst of Statista, 2020 saw the biggest air conditioners with 5.91 million shipments in 2020 only. This chart shows the number of shipments of air conditioners into the United States with fluctuations in between the years, most recently the past three years (2018, 2019, and 2020) which showed that the numbers rose in 2018, dropped in 2019, and rose again in 2020.

Factors to consider before buying an air conditioner

A lot of folks, not just in the United States, but in the entire world, believe that whenever they’re investing in appliances, they should get the best results that involve not only the basic functionalities but also longevity. The air conditioner is no different from these other appliances, and because people are either too excited about getting their hands on their ideal ACs or they just don’t know that there are important things to look out for when purchasing one. Air conditioners cost a lot, especially the high-end ones, and if you’re a big fan of sophisticated appliances, you need to do your homework right to ensure that you get your hands on the right air conditioner. Below are some of the factors you need to consider before buying an air conditioner;

Energy efficiency

Whether it’s a refrigerator or an air conditioner, everybody wants an appliance that is energy efficient and won’t affect their utility bills at the end of the day. Going for an air conditioner that is energy efficient is important because it’s one of those appliances you’re going to use consistently for many years. This is an important factor to consider, but a lot of people don’t know this, and they opt for units that are not energy efficient. Fortunately, the newer air conditioning units are more energy-efficient than the old ones, so it is advisable to opt for a newer model of an air conditioner. These newer models come with energy star ratings so you can easily know how much energy they’ll consume over a period.

AC type

What you need to know before going into the market to purchase a new air conditioner are your needs. Since the market is also so big, you’re likely to get lost if you go in without having a proper idea of what you want. You need to know the type of air conditioner you need in your space before buying one. According to Mc Laircon, every air conditioner type has its requirements and features. From wall air conditioners to split ACs, there are so many options to choose from, but what you need is to look at your space and reach a conclusion on what is needed in it.


Another important factor that needs to be put into serious consideration is the size of your space and the best unit to fit into it. It is ideal for you not to install a big air conditioner in a small room. Apart from taking up space, depending on the air conditioner type you opt for, there are also going to be temperature issues. If your space doesn’t give room for big air conditioners to be installed in it, you should opt for a small-sized air conditioner that can perfectly fit into your space.

Cooling efficiency

If you’re getting an air conditioner, you might as well want to get the one that works very efficiently. Cooling efficiency and cooling speed both need to be put into consideration when purchasing a new air conditioner. This ensures that the temperature in the room at all times is in sync with the one provided by the air conditioner. A good air conditioner should be efficient in its operations and purchasing an AC that won’t give you that is nothing to even consider in the first place.

Other factors

  • Dehumidification unit
  • Noise
  • Warranty
  • Cost of maintenance
  • Brand
  • Tonnage
  • Condenser

Signs of a bad AC capacitor

Bad capacitor symptoms are not so hard to get as long as you pay attention. Paying attention is a great way to tell if the capacitor is bad in your AC unit. To check if the capacitor is bad, you must have noticed a few signs indicating that a faulty run capacitor. This shows that the capacitor is, perhaps, the most important component in the air conditioning unit. To prevent major damage to your air conditioner, you must pay attention to the signs of a bad capacitor on your air conditioning unit. We’re going to be discussing how to check the capacitor on your ac unit, and how to stop the early symptoms from developing into something more damaging.

No cold air

If your AC seems to be working (making the perfect sound) but is not blowing cold air, it is an important sign of a bad AC capacitor. According to Blairs Air, every appliance with a motor features a capacitor, and since the air conditioner has a motor, it is understandable why it features a capacitor. The job of the capacitor is to send an energy surge to the motor of your air conditioner, causing it to produce cool air. On the other hand, it might not be a capacitor problem if the unit is not blowing cold air, but it is a great place to start. If you turn off the unit and turn it back on, and there aren’t changes still, then you should seek professional help to get things sorted out for you before the unit gets damaged completely.

Goes off on its on

It is quite unusual for an air conditioning unit that seems to be in perfect condition to go off by itself. If you check every connection and nothing seems to be faulty, the best place to check is the capacitor. A bad capacitor will make the air conditioner go off by itself, and if that is not attended to as soon as possible, might cause major damage. The best way to know whether or not it is a capacitor problem is by testing the capacitor itself. All you’ll need is a multimeter to read the capacitor if it’s still in a good shape. If it’s not, then you should know it’s time to get it replaced.

A hike in electricity bills

A bad capacitor means that the motor is not getting enough energy surge to keep the air conditioner in a good shape. When this happens, it causes the motor to work harder to try and balance things up and that means more energy consumption in the process. This also means that the air conditioner will be responsible for taking more energy consumption than it should. This may not be entirely a sign of a bad AC capacitor but the capacitor is a great place to start. Once again, the best way to know is to get the capacitor tested to know if it’s faulty.

A humming noise

A humming noise is one of the most obvious signs of a bad AC capacitor. It’s very annoying too to have an air conditioner that makes a humming noise when all you’re just trying to do in the house is get a good rest. When you begin to hear this humming noise, you should know that something is definitely wrong with the air conditioner and it might be a capacitor problem. The best way to know if it’s as a result of a bad capacitor is to test the capacitor if it’s still in its best conditions. A thermostat will reveal everything you need to know about the condition of the capacitor to you. If maintained properly, a capacitor should last for 20 years, which is even more than the average lifespan of an air conditioner.

The unit takes time to come up

Another important sign you should look out for is when the unit takes to come up after turning it on. Before you think of the AC capacitor, you need to check if it is properly connected to a power source. If you’ve checked that and nothing seems to be wrong with the connection, then it’s probably as a result of a bad capacitor in the air conditioning unit. If you notice this, you’ll need to replace the capacitor as soon as possible because it’s either it has failed completely or it will fail soon, which you don’t have to wait for if you want to preserve your unit’s life. You just have to be prepared to part ways with some amount of money because AC capacitors, sometimes, cost a lot to replace.

Cooling cycle takes forever

An air conditioner in a perfect working conditioner doesn’t take forever to load a cooling cycle but when the capacitor is bad, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. This is mostly down to a faulty capacitor and you should do well to replace it as soon as possible before it damages your air conditioning unit totally.

Burning smell

Burning smell does not only indicate that the AC capacitor is bad but it is a very strong possibility. There are many reasons you can perceive a burning smell from your air conditioning unit and a bad capacitor is one of them. If you’ve checked all the other possibilities and they seem to be working fine, the next best place to look at is the capacitor. It’s probably damaged and should be replaced as soon as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does a capacitor do in an AC unit?

A capacitor’s work in the AC unit cannot be overemphasized. Its job is to provide the unit’s motor with enough power surge so the motor can function as it should. This explains why there are major problems whenever the capacitor seems to be damaged.

2. What happens when a capacitor fails?

The signs of a bad AC capacitor we’ve discussed in this article are the things that are going to happen when your AC capacitor fails. The quicker you are to get the capacitor replaced or fixed, the better the chances of your AC unit not getting damaged.

3. Where is the capacitor on my AC unit?

The capacitor of your AC unit can be found in the electrical of the air conditioning unit, and it usually has a round shape if it’s a modern air conditioner.

Final thoughts

Nobody likes to spend extra money replacing an air conditioning unit that could have been in a good shape if all the signs had been paid attention to. The signs we’ve discussed in this article are signs of a bad AC capacitor, and the good thing is that if you pay proper attention to these signs, you have a better chance of making your unit last longer.





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