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What Is a “Hard-Starting AC” and What Can I Do About It?

You’ve probably experienced a car that has trouble getting started on a chilly winter day. The engine grinds, but it takes a few times before it turns over. This is an example of “hard starting.” It can happen to any type of machinery that uses motors, no matter if it’s powered by natural gas, petroleum, or electricity.

Hard starting is a problem you might encounter with your air conditioning system. Although a hard-starting AC can continue to work at providing cool air to a house, it’s not good for the system, it drains excess power, and it can eventually deal a fatal blow to the air conditioner. A hard-starting AC will make noises at startup and have trouble at how fast it can cool down the house.

Hard Starting in an Air Conditioner

An air conditioner doesn’t work the same way as a car, but if it can be said to have an equivalent to a car’s engine, it’s the compressor. The compressor is the component in the outdoor cabinet that puts refrigerant under high pressure so that it circulates through the indoor and outdoor coils to move heat out of the house. The motor running the compressor is the most powerful in an AC system—it makes a familiar hum whenever the AC enters its cooling cycle.

An air conditioner is hard starting when the compressor struggles to come on and stay on. There are different reasons this can happen. The capacitors that send voltage to the compressor’s motor may be failing or the compressor might have lost lubrication. Sometimes it’s a sign the air conditioner is worn down and ready to retire.

Regardless of the source, you want expert technicians to look into hard starting as soon as possible. Hard starting puts enormous strain on the compressor, which will raise electrical bills and can lead to the compressor burning out. A burnt-out compressor usually spells the end of the entire AC system.

Fixing the Hard-Starting AC

A licensed technician can find out the reason for the hard-starting system, and from there determine the best way to remedy it. You can’t do anything on your own about hard starting—always call professionals.

The most common solution to hard starting is for the technician to attach a hard start kit to the AC. This is a device that’s designed to give the compressor an extra “kick” of voltage to overcome the resistance that’s making it hard start. Technicians will usually do this if they believe the air conditioner still has a few good years of life in it. If they find the problem is failing capacitors, the technicians can replace them.

If the air conditioner is more than 15 years old, hard starting is a sign to have it replaced. Most air conditioners can last around 15 years but not much longer. It’s more cost effective to have a new AC in place.

To take care of your air conditioning in Park Ridge, IL, rely on ServiceMax. We’re experts at diagnosing and solving all types of cooling system trouble.

ServiceMax serves Chicagoland. Reach out to us for AC repairs—we’re open all day, every day!

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