2 Part Malfunctions That Can Impair Your AC's Compressor

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The compressor of a central air conditioner starts off the refrigerant fuel that the unit needs to cool your home. Gas refrigerant is compressed so that it can move into the condenser coils, which change the gas to a liquid so it can continue into the air handler within your home to complete the cooling cycle. If the compressor doesn't function properly, the cooling system can't start.

There are a few different part malfunctions that can impair your air conditioner's compressor. If you suspect a problem, call in a heating and cooling contractor, like one from Don's AC Service, Inc., to fix or replace the part.

Start Capacitor

HVAC units often include one or more capacitors, which are small parts that store electricity to provide assistance. The start capacitor, for example, gives the compressor a boost when the part is starting up so that no electrical signal interruptions can shut down your system before it gets going. If the start capacitor does break, the compressor can fail to start at all.

You can test the start capacitor if you have a multi-meter and the knowledge of how to use it and work around electricity safely. You need to turn off the main electrical supply to the unit, but the capacitor will still hold its charge. Drain the charge by first unhooking the capacitor wires attached to its terminals and then hooking the multimeter probes to those terminals. Turn the setting to AC and wait for the number to drop to zero.

You can then switch to readings in Ohms and then match the number in the reading to the number printed on the side of the capacitor. If it doesn't match, you need a new capacitor.

If you don't want to perform the testing, call in an air conditioning services tech for help.

Run Capacitor 

The run capacitor gives the compressor its electrical boost once the compressor is already running. One common symptom of a defective run capacitor is rapid cycling, which is when the compressor will start and run normally for a short period before shutting off with no clear reason.

The testing process for the run capacitor is similar to the start capacitor you just want to drain the charge a bit differently. Use an insulated screwdriver placed across both terminals for several moments to drain the run capacitor and then follow-up with the AC testing to make sure it drains. You can then perform the Ohms reading.

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19 October 2016

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