Understanding What an AC Capacitor Is and How to Replace It

It’s an inconvenience at best, if not an outright threat to your family: Your central air conditioner isn’t working. You try to diagnose the issue, and it seems like an electrical problem. Often when your AC unit isn’t getting the power it needs to keep your air temperature comfortable, a faulty capacitor is to blame. A capacitor in an air conditioning unit works sort of like a battery. It stores up the electrical current from the electrical supply and distributes it at a consistent level so that your AC’s motors function. A typical central air conditioner has various motor components: a blower motor, a compressor motor, and a fan motor. Depending on the model, your AC unit might have one central capacitor that supplies power to all three motors, or each motor might have its own separate capacitor. Capacitors can break down suddenly, such as when the air conditioner is hit with a sudden power surge, or they may wear down over time due to normal operational wear and tear. Signs of a capacitor near the end of its lifespan may include a humming or clicking sound coming from the AC unit. Alternatively, you may notice your air conditioner having...

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