How Do I Test My Pool Pump Capacitor?
Swimming pools have many different moving parts, and one of those parts is called a pool pump capacitor. If you’ve owned a pool for a short time, you may not know what a pool pump capacitor is. However, pool pump capacitors play a vital role in the pumping system of your pool. You may be wondering why your pool’s pump suddenly stopped working one day, and it may be because of a faulty pool pump capacitor.
What Does a Pool Pump Capacitor Do?
A pool pump capacitor is similar to the battery in a car. The same reason your car needs a battery inside the engine bay to start is the same reason a pool needs a capacitor to start. It allows the pool pump to get up to speed before it switches over to using a different power source to run. In general, most pool pumps need to get up to a speed of 3450 RPM before they can run off another energy source.
Pool pump capacitors are cylindrical and about 3 to 4 inches long, but some models may be slightly smaller. Some pool pump systems require two capacitors. One capacitor starts the pump and one helps it keep running. Either way, a pool pump capacitor is an essential component of a pool’s pumping system, and without it, a pumping system will not work properly.
How to Tell If Your Capacitor is Faulty
If your pool pump stops running, don’t go out to replace the whole thing because it may just be a faulty pool pump capacitor. Checking you pump’s capacitor can save you a lot of money, however, it is dangerous without the right information. A pool pump that won’t run may be a symptom of many different problems, but there are a couple of ways to know if the pool pump capacitor is at fault.
The first method to know if a capacitor is dead is to use your ears. When the pool pump turns on, listen for a quiet buzz or hum. This sound indicates that the pool pump capacitor has become dead. Another method to know whether or not a capacitor has gone bad is to think about how long it has been since it’s been replaced. Standard pool pump capacitors are only good for around 5000 starts before they go bad. That may seem like a lot of starts, but the get used up quite quickly. If you’ve had your pool for a while, it could be possible the capacitor is bad. The third method to see if a capacitor is bad is to use your nose.
When your pool pump tries to turn on, the capacitor may be bad if you can smell a burnt electrical smell. An expired pool pump capacitor may also have a bulged outer shell. Whatever method you use, it’s important to proceed with caution and not to try and start you pump too much as it can cause damage.
How Do I Find the Capacitor for My Pool Pump?
A pool pump capacitor is easy to find if you know what to look for. Although models of pool pumps vary, it’s easy to find the pool pump capacitor because of their housing. You can find the pool pump capacitor underneath a hump on either the top or side of your pool pump. It will be underneath a plastic housing that can be either popped or screwed off. The capacitor will be attached to the inside of a cylinder.
It’s important to avoid removing this cylinder when your pool pump is still getting power though. To turn off your pool pump, it’s recommended that you turn the power off at the power breaker. Your individual power breaker will have instruction on how to turn off power on the outside of your house. Once you locate your pool’s pump capacitor, you can begin testing it.
Check Your Capacitor for Life
Once you’ve located the pool pump capacitor and turned off the power to your pump, you can test the capacitor for life. It’s important to note that this process is very dangerous. A pool pump capacitor can deliver a powerful shock, even after it has been removed from the pump. Proceeding forward be as careful as possible. First, remove a cylinder from inside the pool pump’s housing. The capacitor will be inside the removed cylinder on one end. Some of these cylinders will have a clear cover where you can see the capacitor.
Next, remove the cover on the end of the cylinder, exposing the capacitor. Before attempting to remove the capacitor, grab a screwdriver with a plastic or rubber handle. Touch the screwdriver to the ends of the capacitor making sure to touch each prong simultaneously. There will be an electrical spark when you do this so make sure you are only touching the capacitor with the screwdriver. After you release the capacitor’s charge, it’s safe to remove the capacitor from the larger cylinder. Use a multimeter on each of the prongs to test the capacitor. Use the lowest ohm setting, and if the meter stays at 0, it’s gone bad.
Flower Mound Pool Care & Maintenance Can Help You Replace Your Pool Pump Capacitor
Changing a pool pump capacitor can be difficult and dangerous. If you’re not comfortable handling electric equipment that can give you a serious shock, Flower Mound Pool Care & Maintenance can help! We have years of experience in pool care and maintenance, and we would love to help you change your pool pump capacitor.
Improperly changing a capacitor can lead to damage to your pool’s pump so we urge you to be cautious. Alongside being able to change your pool pump capacitor, we also offer other pool maintenance services! We offer a weekly pool service, which means you’ll never have to worry about a bad capacitor. We also offer pool repair services if you need them. Besides these services, we can also aid you in remodeling your pool or resurfacing!
We can replace your pool pump capacitor or assist you in any other pool related needs! Give Flower Mound Pool Care & Maintenance a call at (214) 995-3556!
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Just so, how long do pool pump capacitors last?
Start Capacitors have a limited service life of approximately 5000 starts of the pool pump motor. Run Capacitors typically last longer.
Secondly, what causes a pool pump capacitor to go bad? However, the motor will shut itself down if it is running too hot. A defective run capacitor can cause the motor to run at a higher amperage. Higher amps mean more wattage and more wattage means more heat. Other symptoms of a pool motor overheating would be an oversized impeller, bad windings or high voltage.
Similarly, you may ask, how do I know if my pool pump capacitor is bad?
How to Test a Pool Pump Capacitor
- Remove the cover plate, and use an insulated screwdriver to discharge the capacitor.
- Remove the two wires connected to the capacitor, with a small flathead, or needle nose pliers.
- Use any type of multi-meter, digital or analog.
- If the meter reads zero, and stays at zero – the capacitor is bad.
Does it matter which wire goes where on a capacitor?
A standard basic two terminal motor start or run capacitor is not polarity sensitive. It doesn't matter which wire goes to which terminal. If it has 3 terminals, then it certainly does matter which wire goes where.
Pool Pump Capacitors
Pool Pump Capacitors
Is your pool pump giving you a ‘buzz,’ ‘hum’ or ‘nnngh!’ type of sound and not starting up?
Then you very well might have a capacitor problem. This sound will typically continue until the circuit breaker trips.
What is a capacitor?
A pool pump capacitor is like a battery to start the pump motor similarly to the battery in your car. Pool pumps may have two capacitors. There could be one in the back which is the start capacitor, and one on top which is the run capacitor. Start capacitors have a limited service life of approximately 5000 starts of the pool pump motor. The run capacitors typically last longer. The capacitor allows the pool pump to get up to speed before it switches over to using a different power source to run.
How do you test for a bad capacitor?
First, check the components of the pool pump. Shut off all power and flip breakers to the off position before diagnostics. Begin with checking the impeller and motor shaft to see if it it is turning freely. This will rule out the possibility of rust binding up the rotor and stator, or something heavy stuck in the impeller.
Next, assess the appearance of the capacitor. If it’s bulged, cracked or otherwise looks damaged, you can assume that it has failed. You should also check for loose, crimped or broken wires, rusty terminals, or burned marks on the capacitor.
If the motor freely spins and the capacitor does not have any obvious changes in appearance, then the capacitors can be tested for “capacitance.” Capacitance is the available starting power. Test the capacitor by using a multimeter set to the highest level for Ohms. If the meter reads zero, and stays at zero – the capacitor is bad. If it slowly rises to infinity, your capacitor is capable of holding a charge, and a replacement capacitor is not needed.
What causes a capacitor to go bad?
- Failure could occur if the incorrect capacitor was installed. When you replace your existing capacitor, you want to make sure the microfarad rating is the exact same and the voltage should be the same or higher. You can’t replace it with a lower voltage rating.
- If the motor runs lightly-loaded, also known as hot, it can cause high capacitor voltage, ultimately leading to failure. Light-loading or running hot can occur due to restrictions, such as an air leak.
- The capacitor is faulty from the start, either it is from a bad batch or mishandled before it installed.
If you’re having a problem repeatedly, it’s probably not the capacitor. It could be the fact that you just have either a bad motor or an old motor. Overtime, the windings or bearings may go bad thus causing the pump to run hot; which, could cause a capacitor to go bad. Should you be going through capacitors frequently or the motor is running hot, then it is best to replace the whole motor.
Please note, the following information that was provided was not a comprehensive outline on how to specifically test your capacitor, but rather general guidelines. Always use extreme caution and care when operating a pool pump as there is an element of danger including electrical shock, a capacitor blowing up and more.
Testing a Pool Pump’s Capacitor
If your pool pump is not starting, but instead gives a ‘hum’ or a ‘nnngh!’ type of sound, you may have a capacitor problem. This sound will usually continue until the circuit breaker trips.
The capacitor is kind of like a battery to start the pump motor, but what it really does is put the power out of phase on the stator thus ‘shading’ the motor windings, causing the motor to begin to turn.
The first thing to check, especially during a spring opening, is that the impeller and motor shaft is turning freely. This will rule out the possibility of rust binding up the rotor and stator, or something heavy stuck in the impeller.
You can check for shaft rotation by removing the rear cover plate, and turning the end of the shaft with a large flathead or straight pliers, or on most pumps, you can remove the basket and feel the impeller with your fingers (pump off first!).
You could just replace the capacitor, to see if that’s the problem. Look on the side of the existing capacitor to read the microfarad size – ‘MFD’ or the UF numbers. Pool pumps may have two capacitors, one in the back (the start capacitor) and one on top (the run capacitor). The smaller, black capacitors, located in the rear of a motor, are usually labeled with a range of numbers, i.e., 161-193 MFD, while the larger, silver capacitors, typically located on the hump of the motor, on top – are sized by a UF number.
If you want to test the capacitor however, follow these instructions – carefully, as there is a small element of danger, should the capacitor blow-up on you!
Before you test your capacitor, take note of it’s appearance. If it’s bulged, cracked or otherwise looks damaged, you can assume that it has failed. You should also check for loose, crimped or broken wires or rusty terminals or burned marks on the capacitor.
1. Remove the cover plate, and use an insulated screwdriver to discharge the capacitor. If you want, you can remove the capacitor and wrap it in a heavy cloth, or rubber sheet – just in case. It is quite rare that while testing a capacitor, it explodes (small explosion), but it can happen. More commonly, you may experience sparks, or a small popping sound as you drain the capacitor, if there is a lot of power stored. Point the capacitor away from you and others, while discharging. You only need to touch both terminals briefly with the tip of an insulated screwdriver, to discharge the capacitor.
2. Remove the two wires connected to the capacitor, with a small flathead, or needle nose pliers. If the capacitor is bulged or cracked, or looks like it is burned or charred, you can assume that it is D.O.A. and you need a replacement capacitor.
3. Use any type of multi-meter, digital or analog. It need not be a fancy $100 meter, it can be a $10 meter from Radio Shack. Set the test meter to Ohms, of 1K or higher. Touch both leads of your meter to the capacitor terminals, does not matter which lead touches which terminal.
4. If the meter reads zero, and stays at zero – the capacitor is bad. If it slowly rises (to infinity), your capacitor is capable of holding a charge, and a new capacitor is not needed.
A good reading should start low as soon as you touch the second lead to the capacitor, then slowly increase. Use the highest ohm setting you have (2M or 200K works best, as you can slowly see the resistance rising).
You can discharge the capacitor with an insulated screwdriver (wear gloves) and do it again to verify. Just before you touch the second lead, your ohmmeter should be reading 1 (open circuit, infinite resistance), you’ll drop to a low reading right away with a good capacitor and it’ll increase.
Another test is to have the meter set to AC volts, and connected to both leads (I use clamps, I don’t want my hands near live voltage). Turn the pump on, and if the capacitor is running properly, you’ll get a HIGHER voltage than the supply voltage (for example, you may get 260v, with a 240v supply voltage). Thanks Jim W.!
InTheSwim Blog Editor
Posted inPool PumpsTaggedmotor, pool pump troubleshootingpermalinkSours: https://blog.intheswim.com/how-to-test-a-pool-pump-capacitor/
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