Our AC is broken. That’s not a huge problem since it’s late October and we live in New Hampshire, but it is a problem I intend to resolve sooner rather than later.

It was in the 70’s here the past couple of days. That’s not normally a problem either, except that it was also pretty humid yesterday. Va wanted to run the AC to knock the humidity down, but the AC would not start.

Instead, the lights in the house would dim every 10 seconds or so as the AC tried to start. I figured it was either a bad compressor (expensive!) or a bad capacitor (way less expensive, but still not cheap). I called Dad. He did heat and air before he retired several years ago. He told me how to test the start capacitor.

To do that, I would need either an analog multimeter, or a capacitance meter. My meter is digital, and it doesn’t do capacitance, so I borrowed one from work today. I needn’t have bothered.

When I opened it up, I immediately noticed that one of the wires had come off the capacitor. I also noticed that the capacitor had three leads, and I happen to know that a capacitor should only have two. Confused, I called Dad again.

This particular capacitor is actually two capacitors in one package – one for the fan, and one for the compressor. They each share a common lead.

Anyhow, one of the non-common wires was off (turns out that was the fan though, not the compressor). The spade connector was somewhat abnormal looking, having a crimp on only one side:

Faulty spade connector

Faulty spade connector


See how the one on the right is missing? The edge of that spade should curl around and grip the connector on the cap, but there’s nothing there. It was just flapping in the breeze.

Luckily, that wasn’t the worst of it. Had there been nothing else wrong with the cap, the compressor not starting would be unexplained, and that would be a Bad Thing.

The other problem was that the common connector on the cap was all wiggly. I took two pictures and turned them into an animated gif. But those are kinda annoying, so you’ll have to click “more” to see it (there’s nothing more after “more” though, so if you skip it, you’re not missing much).

Anyhow, I need to find a replacement cap (and a replacement spade connector) and swap them out, and we’ll be ready to face another New England summer. But first… we’ll have to face another New England winter!


Wiggly connection

Wiggly connection