How Long Do AC Capacitors Last: A Brief Guide

An air conditioner’s capacitor is one of the most important parts of the unit. These complicated pieces are hard to replace. Because of its importance, you’re probably wondering, “How long do AC capacitors last?”

In this guide, we explain how to know when your AC capacitor is about to fail. However, don’t take care of the issue yourself. When you’re ready for capacitor replacement, call World Class Services, Westerville’s reliable AC repair company, at 614-739-8670.

What Does the AC Capacitor Do?

Many homes have air conditioners, but how do air conditioners work? The capacitor is the air conditioner’s internal on-and-off switch. It stores power until the thermostat tells it to turn on. Then, the capacitor uses a power surge to activate the compressor in your AC unit.

The capacitor is about the same size as a battery, so it’s difficult to handle if you’re not experienced. When you look at a capacitor, you’ll see different bands around it that indicate its voltage rating.

You might not notice a broken capacitor. But if your energy bills increase, it may be a silent indication of the problem.

How Long Do AC Capacitors Last?

Capacitors are designed to last as long as your AC unit, which is about 10 to 15 years. They don’t often suffer wear and tear. However, there are three main factors that can shorten the life of your capacitor:

  • Heat Exposure: Extreme heat it can cause your capacitor to fail. The heat damages it from efficiently storing energy, which prevents it from having enough power to start the compressor. This is more likely after an extended period of hot weather.
  • Wrong Voltage: If an inexperienced person replaces the capacitor, your unit might have one with the wrong voltage. It’s important not to cut costs when installing a capacitor. Using the wrong one causes repeated failure and replacement.
  • Age: When an air conditioner lasts longer than expected or you use it more frequently than it can handle, the capacitor can die before the unit.

5 Warning Signs Your Capacitor is Failing

There are five common signs you have a faulty capacitor. If you have only one of these problems, you might have a broken capacitor, but you could also have a different problem with your unit. If you notice two or more of these signs, you almost certainly have a capacitor issue.

1. Smoke or Burning Smells 

Your air conditioner should never produce smoke. A burning smell is always a bad sign. Turn off and unplug the air conditioner immediately, and do not use it until you replace the capacitor.

This is one sure sign that you have a bad capacitor. No need to wait for confirmation; call a World Class Services expert to replace it.

2. Lack of Cold Air 

If your air conditioner is on but not blowing cold air, something is broken. Can you hear the fan running, but the motor never kicks in? The capacitor isn’t providing the power surge the compressor motor needs.

Try turning it off and on again. If it still doesn’t work, you need an expert to check the capacitor.

3. Slowed Cooling 

If you notice the air conditioner takes longer than normal to cool your home, the capacitor could be to blame. Another sign is if the air is cold, but the air conditioner doesn’t blow it into the room. 

This is one of the most difficult symptoms to recognize. If you find yourself running the AC more even though the temperature hasn’t increased, or you find yourself warmer despite not changing the thermostat settings, you should pay attention to how long your AC takes to cool.

4. Weird Noises

You’re probably already familiar with the low buzz sound an air conditioner makes. When the capacitor kicks in, the buzz is louder and there’s a moment that sounds like a switch has been flicked.

If you hear unusual noises from the AC, like a clicking or an unusual hum, it’s like the capacitor.

5. Power Issues

A capacitor can cause two types of power issues:

  • The motor doesn’t turn on at all.
  • The motor starts but stops quickly or before it reaches the right temperature.

While several other parts can cause these issues, you should still have an expert check the capacitor.

Call World Class Services When Your Capacitor Breaks

We’ve answered the question, “How long do AC capacitors last?” When you need to replace your capacitor or need an AC installation, call us. No matter the problem, World Class Services is here to help.

For speedy and expert air conditioner services, call 614-739-8670. We deliver WOW through service.

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