Perhaps you’ve experienced this “hard-starting” scenario on a chilly winter morning at some point—the engine grinds, but it takes a few times before it turns over when you try to start it. Hard-starting can actually happen to any type of equipment that uses motors, no matter if it’s powered by electricity, natural gas, or even petroleum.
Your air conditioner is no exception. While a hard-starting air conditioning system can continue to operate and provide your home with cooled air, it’s not good for the system. It drains excess power, and will eventually cause your air conditioner to break down altogether. A hard-starting cooling system will typically make noises at startup then have trouble cooling your home down effectively.
Hard-Starting and Your Air Conditioner
An AC system doesn’t work the same way an automobile does, of course. However, it can be said to have the equivalent to a vehicle’s engine—the compressor. The compressor is an AC component in the outdoor cabinet that puts refrigerant under high pressure so it can circulate through the indoor and outdoor coils to transfer heat out of your home, and provide cooled air into your home. Compressors are essentially the hearts of AC systems.
When you hear an air conditioner hard-starting, what you’re actually hearing is the compressor struggling to come on and stay on. There are a few reasons this might occur. The capacitors that send voltage to the compressor’s motor may be failing, or the compressor may have lost lubrication. Sometimes it can be a sign that your air conditioner is wearing down and is just about ready for replacement.
Regardless of the source of the hard-starting, you want expertly trained HVAC technicians to take a look at your system ASAP. Hard-starting is not only the symptom of a problem but can cause further issues by putting enormous strain on the compressor. Soon enough, you’ll notice a spike in electrical bills, which will lead to the compressor burning out. A burnt-out compressor usually means the end for an air conditioner.
Fixing Hard-Starting in an Air Conditioner
In order to fix hard-starting in an air conditioner, you first need to know what’s causing it. And to find that out, you’ll want to hire a licensed and experienced technician to do an inspection and determine the best way to remedy your particular system. It’s always best to trust an experienced pro than it is to try to repair the problem on your own or hire an amateur.
As we alluded to above, the problem may be failed capacitors. Your air conditioner has two types of capacitors—the start capacitor and the run capacitor. The start capacitor is what helps your air conditioner—the compressor—start-up, and the run capacitor keeps it going. As you might have guessed, a problem with the start capacitor is responsible for hard-starting.
The good news is, it’s not rare for a component like this to fail and need replacement, and it’s not a difficult repair for our professionals to make. But it is important that you have the system repaired and this component replaced right away, so you can avoid a full compressor failure, and subsequent air conditioner failure.