Will the AC Fan Run if the Capacitor Is Bad?

The last thing you want to experience on a hot summer day is a malfunctioning air conditioner. Unfortunately, cooling systems can stop working for many reasons, including a bad capacitor. The component is essential for the air conditioner’s performance, so you might ask yourself, “Will the AC fan run if the capacitor is bad?”

Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning employs air conditioner repair experts in Lakeside, California, and understands the confusion about AC fans and capacitors. Continue reading to see what we have to say about running your air conditioner with a faulty capacitor.

What Is the Purpose of an AC Capacitor?

An air conditioning capacitor is a component that starts the compressor, fan motor, or blower motor. It resembles two metal plates with insulating material between them. When the capacitor gets voltage from the cooling system, it creates an electric field and stores energy.

The stored energy, or electrostatic charge, releases when it’s time to power the capacitor to trigger the fan motor, blower motor, or compressor. A running capacitor will keep these components operational for as long as the air conditioner is on.

The capacitor is an integral aspect of an air conditioning system because it functions like a battery. Its sole purpose is to generate, store, and release energy to power the compressor or blower fan motor, which is also essential to an air conditioner’s functionality.

Broken AC Fan Motor or Damaged Capacitor?

Malfunctioning fan motors and capacitors are common causes of air conditioning repair, even if many property owners are unaware of their warning signs, which include:

  • Fan motor won’t turn on even if the AC is running
  • Fan won’t stop even if the AC is off
  • Fan blades rotate too slow
  • Fan produces a rattling or humming noise from the condenser unit

Though these warning signs aren’t exhaustive, you can quickly tell if the problem is with the AC fan motor or the capacitor by turning off the system and unscrewing the side panel on the condenser unit to access the capacitor. If the component is swollen, the air conditioner’s problem is its capacitor. If it looks flat and normal, the issue may be the fan motor. 

Warning Signs That Your Air Conditioner's Capacitor Is Bad

So, will the AC fan run if the capacitor is bad? No, the system won’t work correctly, if it works at all.

The capacitor is responsible for either starting the motors and compressor when the air conditioner turns on or keeping them running for the whole cooling cycle. Still, you can spot warning signs of a failing capacitor if you know what to look for with your cooling unit. 

High Energy Bills

Since air conditioning compressors need capacitors to generate enough power for them to work correctly, a malfunctioning compressor will force the system to overwork. Otherwise, the air conditioner can’t produce and maintain the desired temperature.

Unfortunately, the extra work from the HVAC system will require additional energy consumption, leading to higher energy costs. Other problems with an air conditioner can cause your monthly utility expenses to increase, so contact a professional HVAC technician to properly inspect and diagnose the source of your AC troubles. 

Humming Noise From the Air Conditioning System

It’s usually not strange for an air conditioning unit to emit a gentle hum as it runs. Yet, you should be mindful of loud humming noises coming through the condenser unit outdoors around its access panel. That sound could indicate a defective capacitor. 

Faulty or worn-out capacitors will make air conditioning compressors overwork themselves to compensate for the lack of energy the capacitors have. When compressors work too hard, they make a loud humming noise, but a blower motor can also generate the sound. 

To determine if the noise is coming from the motor or the capacitor, turn off the air conditioner. If the noise continues, the capacitor is the problem. 

Burning Smell in the Outdoor Condenser Unit

Sometimes, air conditioning systems generate smells when one of their parts is failing. The unit might produce a burning odor when a capacitor is going out. Since the AC capacitor powers the system’s compressor, it won’t function right, and your home won’t cool down if the capacitor fails.

Warm Air From Vents

If the air blowing from your vents is warm instead of chilled, something is obviously wrong with the air conditioner, and the problem could be the capacitor. If the capacitor is defective, it won’t provide enough energy to the AC compressor to pressurize the refrigerant inside the coils. As a result, the refrigerant won’t remove heat from the indoor air, causing warm air to flow through the vents. 

Is AC Capacitor Replacement a Do-it-Yourself Job?

Knowing the answer to, “Will the AC fan run if the capacitor is bad?” doesn’t mean you should attempt to fix or replace a malfunctioning component. Capacitors carry significant voltage, more so than the energy the air conditioner needs to power the entire system. You could get an electrical shock if you lack experience and knowledge about the electrical connections and parts. The electrical injury could be serious or even fatal in some cases. 

It’s better to hire a qualified HVAC contractor to replace your air conditioner’s capacitor than to do it yourself. The HVAC technician will inspect the system, disconnect the damaged capacitor, and remove its wires and mounting bracket. Then, they’ll install a new part and reconnect the wires and brackets. 

Contact Lakeside's Air Conditioning Repair Experts for Help

Are you still wondering, “Will the AC fan run if the capacitor is bad?” With Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning, there’s no need to guess. As one of the top HVAC companies serving Lakeside, CA, and the surrounding areas, our trained and certified technicians can inspect, diagnose, and repair any air conditioning problem, from a blown AC fuse to damaged capacitors. 

Your satisfaction is our top priority, so we honor manufacturer warranties and offer 10-year labor warranties on our jobs. Call Maximum Comfort Heating & Air Conditioning today at (619) 949-2483 to request an appointment. 

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