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A Hard-Starting Air Conditioner: What It Is, What We Can Do About It

Posted on: August 1, 2016

The stress of a long summer can sometimes spell serious problems for an air conditioning system. Think of it like a car that’s going on a long trip: there always exists the chance that something could go wrong with the vehicle because of all that mileage.

If you remembered to schedule spring maintenance for your AC, it has a strong chance of sailing through summer without running into major trouble. But there’s no way to prevent all malfunctions. One you may encounter during a hot summer is a hard-starting compressor in the air conditioner.

What Is Hard-Starting?

Hard-starting means the compressor is struggling to overcome the pressure inside it when it starts up the cooling cycle. The compressor does the vital job in an air conditioning system of placing refrigerant under pressure so that it turns into a hot, high-pressure gas that circulates through the heat exchange cycle. When the compressor strains to overcome the initial pressure, it will start making a larger demand on the electrical power. The extra stress will also increase wear and tear, making a breakdown much more likely.

How Can I Tell That the Compressor Is Hard-Starting?

The most clear sign is that the compressor will stutter when it tries to come on to starting cooling down the house. You may also hear a clicking sound, which comes from the capacitors that send voltage to the compressor’s motors. In general, if the time it takes for the AC to begin to cool down your house is becoming lengthier, it’s likely that hard-starting is responsible. A hard-starting compressor can also cause a circuit breaker to trip.

What Can Be Done about Hard-Starting?

In cases of an extremely old air conditioner, hard-starting may indicate that it’s time to replace the system (or sometimes just the compressor). But if the air conditioner is younger, technicians can overcome hard-starting by attaching a hard-start kit to the compressor. This provides extra power for the compressor to start and get to work faster.

If you need air conditioning repairs, just call Bud Matthews Services in Durham, NC.

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