Heat Pump Capacitor Replacement

Heat Pump Capacitor Replacement Video Transcript

Do you need a heat pump capacitor replacement? In this video, Casey Services shows you bad capacitor symptoms,
[On screen: In this video:]
[On screen: Bad capacitor symptoms]

reasons why it may fail,
[On screen: Why it may fail]

the steps in a capacitor replacement,
[On screen: Steps in a capacitor replacement]

and the cost of parts and labor.
[On screen: Cost of parts & labor]

To watch our full Heat Pump repair series, where we cover each major repair, symptoms, and costs, then follow the link.

Heat pump capacitor replacement is vital to keeping your system alive and well. The capacitor is the powerhouse of the heat pump providing electricity to turn the system on, and keep it running efficiently.
If you live in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Durham, or the surrounding areas, Casey Services HVAC can diagnose and replace your heat pump’s capacitor.

Symptoms of a Bad Heat Pump Capacitor

So what are some symptoms of a bad heat pump capacitor?
not heating or cooling properly,

[On screen: Bad heat pump capacitor]
[On screen: Improper heating/cooling]

failing to start,
[On screen: Won’t start]

shutting off at random,
[On screen: Randomly stops]

smoke or a burning smell,
[On screen: Smoke, burning smell]

an increase in your energy bill,
[On screen: Higher bills]

flickering house lights when your heat pump turns on,
[On screen: Lights flicker]

or a humming or purring noise.
[On screen: Humming/purring noise]

Why Did My Capacitor Go Bad?

If you’re wondering why your capacitor might be in bad shape, here are a few common causes: Overheating,
[On screen: Common causes]
[On screen: Overheating]

old age,
[On screen: Old age]

power surges,
[On screen: Power surges]

physical damage,
[On screen: Physical damage]

or loose wires.
[On screen: Loose wires]

In central NC, summer temps can easily go above 90, which is why so many capacitors die during our first heatwave each year.
You’ll need a tech to do heat pump capacitor troubleshooting.

Cost of Heat Pump Capacitor Replacement

A new capacitor typically costs between $6 to $45 depending on the make and model of your heat pump.
[On screen: Replacement cost]
[On screen: Capacitor: $6-$45]

The heat pump capacitor replacement takes 1-2 hours,
[On screen: 1-2 hours]

and the labor is $75 to $150 an hour.
[On screen: Labor: $75-$150/hr]

These times and prices vary depending on parts or labor shortages and time of year. Annual maintenance frequently allows you to catch a failing capacitor before it becomes expensive.
Learn more by checking out our Heat Pump Repair Cost Series.

Don’t Get Scammed

Some companies try to scam you on a heat pump capacitor replacement. When in doubt, ask the tech for the diagnostic report, and take pictures of the damaged capacitor and the new one.
To learn more, check out our series on how to avoid Heat Pump scams.

Replacement Process

Each brand of Heat Pump is different, so the process will vary. But here are the general steps that a reputable technician like ours should take when doing the capacitor replacement:
[On screen: Replacement process]

The first step is to turn off the high and low voltage. This prevents damage to the system & the technician.
[On screen: Turn the power off]

Next, the HVAC tech will need access to the electrical panel inside of the heat pump. This is where the capacitor is located.
[On screen: Remove the panel]

Then, they’ll unscrew the capacitor and unplug the wires to the heat pump.
[On screen: Disconnect the capacitor]

The tech will then examine the capacitor for any signs of swelling, bulging, leaking, or rust. This helps confirm that the capacitor is the cause of the issues.
[On screen: Inspect the capacitor]

After the old capacitor is deemed the culprit and is removed from the heat pump, the tech will install the new capacitor.
[On screen: Attach new capacitor]

The technician will turn on the power to the system and test to make sure the new capacitor is working.
[On screen: Test new capacitor]

If you want to learn how to test a capacitor, then check out our series

With the new capacitor up and running, the exterior panel is reattached and the replacement is complete!
[On screen: Reattach the panel]

Always have a licensed tech work on your heat pump capacitor replacement. This keeps you safe, and is usually required for your warranties and home insurance.
Save money and stay comfortable – learn more with Casey Services.

Heat pump capacitor replacement is a common fix when homeowners start experiencing issues with their heat pump. The capacitor is like the spark plug of your unit – it releases a jolt of electricity to help power the motor that drives the compressor and the fan. It’s a crucial part of your system and its proper functioning is essential for the heat pump to work efficiently. There are several common reasons it can fail, but with the help of a skilled technician, you will be up and running in no time.

Symptoms of a Bad Heat Pump Capacitor

Your heat pump does a lot for you, but there are a few signs that you should look out for that could indicate you need heat pump blower motor replacement. When working properly, you should be experiencing the comfort your system is designed to produce. When it’s not, you may start to experience some of the symptoms below:

  • Not heating or cooling properly – If your system can’t meet the temperatures you’re setting, then your capacitor should be checked.
  • Heat pump won’t start or runs poorly – The capacitor is what gets the blower motor started and keeps it running as it circulates air through your system. So if a cooling or heating cycle fails to start or works erratically, it could be the capacitor.
  • Smoke or burning smell If you do see smoke or smell something burning, you should shut off your heat pump immediately to prevent more damage. Often this smell comes from a capacitor that ‘popped’ and started leaking oil.
  • An increase in your energy bill – If your capacitor is not properly providing power, your heat pump will consume more energy and you might notice unusually high electric bills.
  • Humming or purring noise – An excessively loud humming sound coming from your heat pump could also be a sign the capacitor is failing.
  • Swollen or generally misshapen capacitor – You may be able to see visible signs of a damaged capacitor, like swelling, bulging, or leaking.
  • Flickering house lights when your heat pump turns on – This is a sign that your heat pump is pulling too many amps. This is likely due to issues with your capacitor.

Why Did My Heat Pump Capacitor Fail?

You might get the urge to start troubleshooting your heat pump yourself, but hold off. Work done by an unlicensed tech can lead to voided warranties, loss of insurance, and a host of other issues. There could be many reasons as to why your heat pump capacitor failed, and some of the main ones are listed below:

  • Loose wire – Check for any loose or corroded wiring connections on the capacitor and the surrounding area.
  • Capacitor age – Check the age of the capacitor as capacitors have a limited lifespan and may need to be replaced after several years of use.
  • Overheating – The capacitor is also notorious for overheating and dying on very hot days.
  • Power surge – A large electrical surge like lightning can cause many components of your heat pump to fail, including the capacitor. Measure the voltage and amperage of the capacitor using a multimeter. A failed capacitor will typically have a lower voltage reading than a functional one.
  • Physical damage – Check for any physical signs of damage on the capacitor, such as bulging, leaking, or rust.

Heat Pump Capacitor Replacement Cost

The cost of replacing a capacitor in a heat pump mainly depends on the price of parts & materials and the rate of the technician or company. The costs below can be starting points for most homeowners in the Raleigh, Durham, & Wake Forest areas that are looking for replacements.

How Much Does a Heat Pump Capacitor Cost?

The cost of a capacitor ranges from about $6-$45 depending on the make and model of your heat pump.

Below you can see how much the price has changed over the past few years. To learn more about the price changes, check out our blog on the HVAC parts shortage.

click to enlarge

Note: To be compliant with most warranties and insurances, most HVAC companies won’t install parts you purchase online due to the risks of them being defective. This isn’t all bad because these companies buy parts that have special warranties that follow both their system manufacturers’ guidelines and your insurance policies, covering more than what the average homeowner can buy.

Labor Cost to Replace a Heat Pump Capacitor

To replace a heat pump capacitor, the average labor cost is between $75-$150 an hour and usually takes about 1-2 hours. This might seem pricey, but keep in mind that the cost includes the expertise, insurance, and certifications of your technician in addition to their time.

Am I Being Scammed?

Unfortunately, there’s often a risk of being taken advantage of when you ask for assistance in an area where you don’t have experience. To help you feel more confident, here are some specific tips you can use to make sure the company you’ve hired is treating you fairly.

  • “Show me” – Ask the technician to show you the bad and new capacitor. A bad capacitor often looks swollen or generally misshapen.
  • Ask about a voltage test – Verify that the technician performed a voltage test on the compressor and other components before replacing the capacitor. If he didn’t, he could be missing the real cause of the problem and could just fry another capacitor.
  • Checking microfarads – Ask your tech if they checked the microfarads. This sounds technical but it’s very simple. Capacitors need to stay within a range of microfarads to be considered good and working. If they fall outside this range, they need to be replaced. To find this number for your system, you can look up the model number to see what kind of capacitor it takes and what the range is.
  • Compare the estimate to the bill – Check the detailed estimate against the final bill to ensure that you are not being overcharged for the replacement.
AC maintenance technicians running tests on a customers AC unit
Caption: An exploded capacitor from Marco d’Itri

How to Replace a Heat Pump Capacitor

Here is the process that your heat pump technician will go through during the capacitor replacement process. Keep in mind that these steps may vary slightly depending on your specific heat pump.

  1. Turn off the unit – First, turn off the high and low voltage. This keeps you and the technician safe, and also helps protect components from further damage.
  2. Remove the exterior panel – Next, your HVAC technician will remove the central exterior panel, which houses the blower and capacitor.
  3. Remove the blower motor – To access the capacitor, the technician will need to remove the blower motor first. Then, the technician can reach the capacitor in the back left corner of the space.
  4. Disconnect the capacitor – Next, they will unscrew the capacitor from the housing and unplug the wires to the unit, being careful to note the correct wire placement.
  5. Inspect the capacitor – The technician will then examine the capacitor for bulging, leaking, or rust. This helps confirm that the capacitor is the cause of the issues.
  6. Attach the new capacitor – The technician will then install the new capacitor, making sure to rewire it correctly, and reinstall the blower motor.
  7. Test the new capacitor – Then the technician will turn on the power to the system and test the capacitor to confirm it is working properly.
  8. Reattach exterior panel – With the new capacitor up and running, the exterior panel is reattached and the replacement is complete.


Heat pump capacitor replacement is normally a pretty straightforward job for a skilled HVAC technician. It’s also vital to keeping your system functional and you comfortable. If you’re experiencing any of the signs above, or even just want a second opinion, you should reach out to the experts at Casey Services for help.

Casey Services HVAC Inc

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