Advice From the Pros

Capacitors – What They Are and Why They Fail



ca·pac·i·tor (kəˈpasədər) noun

a device used to store an electric charge, consisting of one or more pairs of conductors separated by an insulator.

That is what the dictionary definition will get you. It sounds like a battery, and in a sense, it is. It stores a charge and can discharge that charge very quickly – and it is used to error correct within an electrical system among other things.

Knowing what it is and what they do gives us a better idea of why they fail. There are also several different kinds of capacitors which all have their own uses in a system and are constructed differently.

Like a battery, eventually the components that make it up can be used up. It has a limited number of starts, and frequently turning on or off those use up the life of the capacitor faster.

Capacitors can fail due to a number of reasons and when they fail it can lead to short-circuit, damage to the circuit and sometimes even explosion.

What are some of the reasons for failure of capacitors?

Inconsistent main voltage feed to the home is one. The voltage coming into the system is above or below rated its rated capacity. Power outages or surges and excessive heat are also common concerns. Aging can also cause capacitor failure.

Electrolytic capacitors fail due to leakage or vaporization of the electrolyte inside. This can be caused due to heating in operation. Heating can be caused by mechanical failure or voltages outside the design range of the component. In electrolytic capacitors heating can cause the formation of gas inside which can explode through the vent provided.

Voltage surges can also cause capacitors to fail. Over time, capacitors re-form themselves to a particular voltage. When an unexpected surge occurs, a failure can take place.

If you suspect that capacitors may be causing your air conditioning unit to malfunction, contact Gentry Air Conditioning today via our online contact form or 817-488-6733!

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new air conditioner

5 Warning Signs That It’s Time For A New Air Conditioner

5 Warning Signs That It's Time For A New Air Conditioner

Photo courtesy of Jason Rufus/Flickr

Buying a new air conditioner is a big expense, we know, but, if you hold out until your unit goes “kaput”, then you may be wearing your wallet out unnecessarily premature. Here in Texas, during our hot Summers, our AC units work extra hard keeping our homes and businesses cool. If you’re wondering what warning signs there are that it’s time to replace your AC unit, here are a few signs to watch out for.

Higher than normal electricity bills

One of the first signs you’ll notice of a failing AC unit is that your electric bills have jumped. Taking into account the time of year (Summer is always higher), and your past payment history, if you’ve noticed that your bill has gone up, then your AC unit is working harder than it should.

Unit never shuts off / not keeping up in the heat of the day

A highly efficient AC unit runs for a time, then shuts off when it reaches your set temperature. This results in your AC unit shutting down and starting up numerous times during the day. If your AC unit never shuts off and can’t keep up during the heat of the day, then it is consuming more energy than it should to keep your house cool.

Unit needs multiple repairs outside of warranty period 

Once a unit has outlived its normal lifespan, it will start to require repairs to keep it running. These repairs will eat into your budget over time and once you hit a certain threshold, then you’ve spent more money keeping the old one running instead of purchasing a newer, more efficient system that will save you money in the long run.

Age of system

Most AC units are designed to last 15 years. Well-maintained systems can push it to 20 years. If you go over either of those time-frames, you are running the risk of coming home one day after work to a house that has no air conditioning and will need to wait a few days or weeks before a new one can get installed.

System uses R-22 refrigerant (being phased out in 2020, prices are skyrocketing) and it needs a major repair

If your AC system is still using R-22 refrigerant, then you will need new equipment, as it will be phased out by 2020. With the upcoming cut-off date of manufacture, the prices of R-22 refrigerant has skyrocketed and soon, it will be less expensive to change out your AC unit to a newer model than to keep your old one running.

If you have any questions regarding any of these warning signs or you’re ready to install a new air conditioner, don’t hesitate to give us a call!

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5 Ways to Keep Your HVAC Running Strong

HVAC Air Filter

People spend thousands of dollars every year replacing their HVAC systems, and more often than not, the damage to their current system was preventable. By taking steps to ensure the health of your current HVAC system, you could potentially save you and your family a great deal of money. Most of these tips are simple, and don’t take very much time, so if you can implement them into your monthly routine, you’ll certainly have a strong HVAC system for a while longer.


Replace Your Dirty Filters Regularly

Everyone has replaced their air filters before, but most people don’t do it until they notice a dip in the effectiveness of their HVAC system. That mindset towards filter replacement can be extremely detrimental to your system. All air filters are labeled with their window of effectiveness, with industry standard being about 90 days, and if you continue to use them past that point you could be forcing your system to work around 20% harder, which costs you money and causes parts to wear quickly.

Clean Air Vents & Air Ducts

Much like air filters, when air vents and ducts become clogged with dust particles or other obstructions, they force your HVAC system to work exponentially harder. A simple periodic cleaning, from either yourself or a professional, will ensure that your system is clean and clear, and running efficiently. Also, make sure you don’t have any curtains or furniture blocking an internal vent or duct. This dramatically reduces their effectiveness. As we mentioned, the harder a system has to work, the fast parts will break down. This isn’t a standard service for most HVAC service companies, and we’d be happy to make you a recommendation to a trusted company who specializes in this sort of cleaning.

HVAC Air Duct

Clean & Shade Outdoor Units

The outdoor unit of your HVAC system has the appearance of a hearty piece of machinery, but in reality, it must be treated delicately in order to make sure your system maintains peak performance. In general, this unit is the costliest element of the system. First things first, make sure that there isn’t a lot of debris or trash around your unit. Outdoor units tend to be a magnet for garbage blowing in the wind. Once you’ve cleared the area surrounding the unit, it’s a good idea to purchase or build a shade for it. There are a lot of moving parts inside an outdoor unit, and temperatures can get very high, so steps must be taken to make sure the unit doesn’t overheat, especially during the summer. There are some commercially-available HVAC shades, or you could assemble one yourself without much difficulty. This is a one-time purchase that can save you tremendous wear & tear.


Use a Programmable Thermostat

Now more common than they’ve ever been, programmable thermostats are purpose-built to keep your home as energy efficient as possible. In terms of HVAC health, it means that your system will not be overtaxed by continuing to run when it doesn’t need to. That reduction in the wear & tear of your HVAC system will help it to last far longer than with an old school thermostat system.


Schedule Annual Tune-Ups

Most people don’t call us at Gentry Air Conditioning until their system has stopped working. HVAC replacement is a huge cost for most consumers, and one key recommendation to prevent an all-out replacement is to invest in annual check-ups. By checking in on your system, and making necessary small fixes, we can work to avoid an all-out replacement, which comes with a much larger price tag.


We hope that these cost-saving tips save you the pain of a full-on air conditioner replacement. However, if you do absolutely need a replacement, or you’re not sure, don’t hesitate to give us a call at Gentry AC. We take the comfort of North Texas seriously, and look forward to serving you!

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