Capacitors and Your HVAC System
As we approach the long hot summer, I wanted to start a series of Blogs on common parts of your HVAC system that break down. Also, I wanted to share some other common parts that when installed, or added on to your system will help you keep your family safer, keep your house safer, keep your system running longer, make it run more efficiently, and make the indoor air quality better so everyone can breathe easier in your home.
If your air conditioner or heater is making a buzzing or humming noise, it’s a sign that your capacitor levels are so low, they can’t provide the necessary electricity to make the HVAC system work properly.
So many times every year, I am called out to a house where the client has said the system is making a buzzing or humming noise. This makes me immediately think a motor is stuck or the capacitor for that motor has gone bad. A capacitor is a storage bucket of electrons that helps regulate the electricity going to the motor it supports; a compressor, a condenser fan motor, a furnace or air handler’s blower motor, and sometimes and inducer motor. When the capacitor gets low on charge, three things can happen. The motor can run at higher amps, causing the motor to prematurely burn out. The motor can begin to run backwards, which would cause a myriad of things to go wrong on your AC or heating system. Lastly, the motor can just stop running altogether.
Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning can help keep an eye on your capacitor levels by checking them out during our bi-annual Precision Tune-ups.
People ask me all the time, “How long is a capacitor supposed to last? A capacitor usually lasts five to ten years. It’s funny though, if you saw some of the 20 and 25 year old capacitors that I find in the old GE systems, you’d find them still working. There is a specific sized capacitor for your system. It comes from the factory at that specific charge of electrons in it. The label on the capacitor will specify when that capacitor is considered below factory specs. Sometimes it’s 5%, 6% or 10%. Well, this capacitor is constantly giving itself up for the motor it supports. As your capacitor loses power little by little every year, it will finally reach its factory low point. At that point, it’s time to change your capacitor.
Changing the capacitor when it is needed will help extend the life of your heating and air conditioning system. Fox Family Heating and Air Conditioning can help keep an eye on your capacitor levels by checking them out during our bi-annual Precision Tune-ups. Regular maintenance on your air conditioning system will not only reduce emergency service calls at the most crucial times of the year, but will give you peace of mind knowing your system has been checked by a professional twice a year.