HVAC systems rely on various components like the capacitor to function. Capacitors are essential to powering the motors that drive HVAC fans and compressors. When they go bad, HVAC performance is affected, resulting in low output, intermittent operation and a greater risk of unexpected breakdowns. In today’s post, local air conditioning service contractor Albert Air Inc. discusses the common causes behind HVAC capacitor failure.
Age and Wear
Old age is the biggest contributing factor in HVAC capacitor malfunction. Over time, capacitors endure wear and tear due to continuous electrical cycling, resulting in degradation that reduces their capacity to store and deliver electrical energy. Environmental conditions, including extreme temperatures and high humidity levels, can increase stress and contribute to wear and aging.
What Else Causes Capacitors to Go Bad?
Factors other than age and wear may also contribute to capacitor degradation. Some of these are electrical in nature: voltage fluctuations within the electrical supply can disrupt the delicate balance of electrical charge within the capacitor — a phenomenon that’s particularly pronounced in areas with unstable power grids. Harmonics and electrical noise present in the power supply can likewise place additional stress on capacitors.
Poor quality capacitors and improper installation can also lead to premature failure. Capacitors need to be sized according to the motor’s requirements, otherwise it could create electrical imbalance that would stress the capacitors beyond their capacity.
How to Identify a Bad Capacitor
It’s important to note that, unlike HVAC air filters, capacitors are not designed to be replaced by the user. An inexperienced person might choose the wrong type of capacitor or install the right one incorrectly, which can lead to HVAC failure. You can, however, identify a faulty HVAC capacitor by observing signs like reduced cooling or heating, frequent system cycling or unexpected shutdowns. Failing capacitors can also cause buzzing, humming or clicking noises within the HVAC system. When you do notice these signs, call an HVAC repair technician.
Keeping up with regular maintenance of your HVAC system can also help avoid problems caused by bad capacitors. These components don’t turn bad overnight, and a well-timed inspection can give your HVAC technician the opportunity to spot early signs of capacitor failure and replace them.