What else should I know about Starter Capacitors before I buy one?

Q: What else should I know about Starter Capacitors before I buy one?

A: Due to the quick burst of energy the starter capacitor is designed to produce, burn outs can sometimes occur. If your motor is either not turning on at all, or is slow to start, these are two easily identifiable signs that the starter capacitor is not functioning normally. In the event that the motor is simply slower than usual, overuse and age may have caused your starter capacitor to lose its capacitance rating. It is possible, though, that you may have other issues with your motor that have nothing to do with the capacitor. Due to the relative ease and low cost of replacing a starter capacitor it is a good place to start, as it may solve your problem with little hassle.


The starter capacitor may, in some cases, overheat and/or rupture. One cause of this may be overvoltage, where a sudden surge of voltage will cause a buildup of pressure. In other cases, as relays open and close, electric sparks can cause the contacts to stick together. This is known as a sticking relay, and it can lead to failure if the starting circuit is left energized too long, as starter capacitors are not meant to be used for more than a few seconds. This is a problem that may lead to complete failure, where the top of the starter capacitor will pop off and the insides may be partially or fully ejected. Another cause of overheating can be the mechanical devices that cycle often, such as air compressors. Starter capacitors that cycle above 20 starts, or cycles per hour, may be subject to overheating. If any of these do occur and damage the capacitor, simply replace it.


In more serious cases, the motor's starting circuit might be engaged too long for the intermittent duty rating of the start capacitor. The top of the start capacitor may become dislodged, and the insides may, in some cases, be partially or fully ejected. If start capacitors are left energized too long due to a faulty starting circuit on a motor they can overheat. Similarly, but not quite as dramatic, a start capacitor may just exhibit a ruptured pressure relief blister. If any of these do occur, and damage the capacitor, it must simply be replaced.


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