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What Air-Conditioning Unit Parts Might Be First To Break and How To Avoid an Expensive Repair

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A malfunctioning air conditioner (AC) can leave you sweltering in the summer, turning an otherwise pleasant sunny day into a sweaty nightmare. Understanding the key components of your AC system will help you avoid this unpleasantness with the perfect combination of proactive maintenance and prompt repairs. We'll equip you with the knowledge you need to maintain cool comfort all season long.

Vulnerable AC Unit Parts

Understanding the most common AC part failures will give you a good idea of where to start when troubleshooting your system. Here are five components that can wear out fairly frequently.


Capacitors manage the flow of electricity through the AC system. They provide the starting torque to get things going when the system turns on, so hot months where the AC cycles frequently will put a lot of wear on these parts. You should always invest in a high-quality replacement capacitor to avoid damaging the system's motor.


The AC filter captures dirt, dust, and other airborne contaminants as they pass through the system. Because the filter is constantly cleaning the air, it suffers a lot of wear and tear. A dirty filter can cause problems throughout the AC system by restricting airflow. This makes the blower work harder to pull air through. Weak airflow can make it impossible for your AC to circulate enough air to cool the home successfully.

Fan Motors

The fan motor is one of the largest AC system components. Often considered the heart of the cooling system, this motor needs to spin smoothly and effectively to circulate air throughout your system and home. The whole cooling system can suffer if anything is off with the fan motor.


Your AC has fuses for the motor, compressors, evaporator coils, and wiring. The fuses keep the system from overloading at these points in the chain. Since the fuses handle a lot of energy, they can blow and cause a system failure. It's wise to keep extra fuses on hand, so you're prepared to make a fast repair if this occurs.


The compressor circulates refrigerant through the AC to facilitate the system's heat exchange. If it doesn't have enough refrigerant, the compressor may run hazardously hot. This will eventually cause the compressor the seize up and fail, which is a costly replacement. If you have an older AC unit, it's often cheaper to replace the entire installation than to replace the compressor.

Signs of Wear and Potential Failure

It's best to catch issues with your AC early before they escalate to a full system failure. Keep a watchful eye out for common signs of trouble, such as:

  • Frequent cycling on and off.
  • Lack of airflow through the vents.
  • Inability to reach the temperature programmed on the thermostat.
  • Unusual sounds such as rattling, banging, or squealing.
  • Unpleasant odors coming through the system.
  • Water around the AC unit.


If you notice any of these warning signs, you should contact a repair professional. If you're familiar with the components of your AC, you may also be able to inspect them yourself.

Preventive Maintenance Strategies

Preventive care can help extend the life of the key AC components listed previously. Following simple AC unit maintenance tips will help you extend the life of your system and prevent frequent repairs.

You should change your air filter at least once every three months. If your home has pets, children, or a lot of dust, you'll need to change it more often. Check the condition monthly to see how your filter is doing and change it if there's a visible accumulation of dust and dirt. This is also one of the first things to check if your system isn't functioning properly. In many cases, a simple filter change will make all the difference.

All AC systems need routine maintenance from a heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) professional at least once a year. This is critical for high-wear parts. The fan motor, for example, needs to be cleaned, lubricated, and balanced. If you skip these tasks, the motor can overheat or fall out of balance and suffer severe damage. During your annual maintenance appointment, the technician will also clean other components, tighten electrical connections, and make adjustments to keep things running efficiently.

Choosing the Right Replacement Parts

It's essential to use quality AC replacement parts for any replacement or repair. Parts made from weak materials or that don't fit perfectly are likely to cause another AC failure in short order. Our team at Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation provides a wide range of original equipment manufacturer and high-quality aftermarket parts suited to various AC models and brands. Our online catalog is easy to search by model number, so you can find compatible AC parts quickly and easily.

DIY Repairs vs. Professional Services

Some AC problems can be remedied with a simple DIY repair. It's often among the most cost-effective AC repair solutions provided that you're confident and comfortable handling the job. However, you should always call a professional if you're not familiar with this type of DIY work or if are dealing with electrical components such as capacitors.

Our Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation team offers affordable replacement parts for both HVAC professionals and homeowners looking for cost-effective solutions. We can connect you with reliable parts and expert advice for any AC project.

Browse the Automatic Appliance Parts Catalog

If you're having trouble with your AC system, Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation has the parts you need. Our extensive catalog includes parts for Kenmore, Amana, LG, General Electric, and more. Reach out to our team for personalized assistance with anything you need. We're your go-to partner for keeping the home cool without breaking the bank.

four outdoor AC unit by Ashkan Forouzani is licensed with Unsplash License