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Question DetailsAsked on 5/19/2016

Does a motor also have to be replaced in an AC unit with a capacitor?

Had a tech come out today for the semi-annual unit check. He tells me my capacitor is running in the 20s and should be in the 40s. He also tells me that I must replace the motor at three times the cost of the capacitor at the same time. Tech manager says not always. What's the truth?

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1 Answer


He can check the motor winding with a volt-ohm meter for obvious problems like internal winding opens or shorts, and if it comes up to speed and runs OK with acceptable amperage draw with a new capacitor (or if he spin-starts it) then probably OK - though it is possible for a bad motor to take out capacitors in short order. He can also check the operating temperature once it has stabilized - good indicator or whether motor is bad or not - basically, if no part is "hot" (as opposed to nicely warm) to the touch (either housing or bearing casings) probably OK. Also, unusual loud humming or any sputtering or sparking sound will indicate an almost certainly bad motor.

But I would say if the capacitor is shot, unless melted from a almsot dead short through it from the motor, probably 9 times out of 10 the motor is fine - perhaps a bit prematurely aged from overheating with hard starting, but probably going to run a good time longer. Sounds to me like an upsell attempt if he did not do any motor tests - just the capacitor.

Also, if only started a couple of times, if the new capacitor fails to solve the problem IT will probably still be good and can be used on a new motor, if that turns out to be needed, so not all that cost will be wasted.

You could also pull your makes and model number and call a couple of other HVAC contractors to see what they would charge for the replacements - so much for capacitor, so much additional if motor turns out to be the problem.

Here is a link to another similar question with answer FYI -

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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