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What Is “Hard Starting” and Why Is It Bad for an Air Conditioner?

“Hard starting” is a condition that can affect air conditioners (as well as other mechanical devices, such as cars) where the motors and the compressor responsible for operating the system have trouble coming on and staying on. If your air conditioner is hard starting, it will stutter as it attempts to turn on, and will then cycle-off soon after it comes to life. Often the hard starting is accompanied by clicking and grinding noises.

Why this happens

There are multiple possible reasons for an AC to begin to hard start. One of the more common problems is failing capacitors. Capacitors are electronic devices that temporarily store voltage and send it to the motors to either start them running or keep them running. Heat can cause capacitors to start losing their ability to store a charge, and this will make it difficult for the motors to start up and stay on. The clicking sound you may hear from the AC usually means the capacitors are in trouble and will need to be replaced. There are also other possible electrical causes for hard starting, such loose wires.

The problem could also lie in the motors or the compressor itself. The compressor can become “tight” and have difficulty moving, and the motors may be wearing down from loss of lubrication. (Avoiding problems from wear and tear is one of the main reasons to always schedule spring maintenance for an AC.)

The problems that hard starting causes

A hard-starting air conditioner is much more likely to suffer a full breakdown because of all the extra strain placed on its parts. This is particularly damaging when it comes to the compressor. If a compressor overheats and fails, it will need to be replaced—and this is an expensive repair, to the point that it’s often more cost-effective to replace the whole air conditioning system rather than just the compressor. Hard starting will also create a rise in energy bills because an AC uses the most power during its start-up cycle—and hard-starting makes this more draining than ever.

If you notice hard-starting behavior from your air conditioner, don’t hesitate to call for professional technicians to fix the problem.

Comfort Flow Heating offers air conditioning repair services in Eugene, OR.

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