what does a bad ac contactor look like


What Does a Bad AC Contactor Look Like


When it comes to the smooth functioning of an air conditioning unit, the AC contactor plays a crucial role. The contactor is an integral part of the electrical system, responsible for controlling the flow of electricity to the compressor and condenser fan motor. However, over time, the contactor can deteriorate or become faulty, leading to potential issues with your AC unit. In this article, we will explore the signs and symptoms of a bad AC contactor, allowing you to identify and address any problems promptly.

Recognizing the Signs of a Bad AC Contactor

AC contactors are designed to handle the electrical load required by the compressor and fan motors. However, due to wear and tear or other external factors, contactors can begin to malfunction. Identifying the signs and symptoms of a failing AC contactor is essential to prevent damage to your air conditioning unit. Below are the most common indications that your AC contactor may be faulty:

1. Constant Clicking Noise

If you notice a persistent clicking sound coming from your air conditioning unit, it may be an indication of a defective contactor. The contactor's primary function is to control the flow of electricity, and a faulty contactor can result in a rapid on-off cycling of the unit. This rapid cycling leads to the clicking noise, which can be annoying and disruptive. Not only does the constant clicking indicate a potential problem with the contactor, but it can also strain other components of the electrical system.

2. AC Unit Not Starting

One of the clearest signs of a bad contactor is when your AC unit fails to start. When you switch on the thermostat or adjust the temperature settings, the contactor is responsible for initiating the power supply to the compressor and fan motors. If the contactor is not functioning correctly, it will be unable to complete this process, causing your AC unit to remain unresponsive. It is crucial to remember that a malfunctioning contactor may occasionally allow the unit to start, only to fail at a later time.

3. Intermittent Cooling

If you experience intermittent cooling or inconsistent temperatures within your space, it could be due to a faulty contactor. When the contactor is not working correctly, it may fail to send a continuous power supply to the compressor and fan motors. As a result, the AC unit may only operate sporadically, leading to uneven cooling or insufficient airflow. This issue can make your indoor environment uncomfortable and increase energy consumption.

4. Burnt or Pitted Contacts

The contacts within the AC contactor can become damaged or worn out over time. When inspecting the contactor, you may notice burnt or pitted contacts. These signs indicate that electrical arcing has occurred, which can cause poor connectivity and result in an unreliable electrical flow. Burnt or pitted contacts are a clear indication that the contactor needs to be replaced.

5. Excessive Heat Damage

Another visible indicator of a bad contactor is excessive heat damage. Contactors are designed to handle a specific electrical load, but when they become faulty, they may not function correctly, causing excessive heat build-up. This heat can cause damage to the plastic housing of the contactor or even melt nearby components. If you notice any signs of heat damage, such as warped plastic or discoloration, it is crucial to replace the contactor promptly.


The AC contactor is an essential component in your air conditioning unit, responsible for initiating the power supply to the compressor and fan motors. Recognizing the signs of a bad contactor is crucial to prevent further damage and ensure the efficient functioning of your AC system. The symptoms discussed in this article, including constant clicking noises, failure to start, intermittent cooling, burnt or pitted contacts, and excessive heat damage, can help you identify and address contactor issues promptly.

If you suspect a faulty contactor, it is recommended to consult with a professional HVAC technician. These experts have the knowledge and experience to diagnose and repair contactor problems accurately. By addressing contactor issues promptly, you can avoid further damage to your AC unit, minimize energy consumption, and ensure a comfortable indoor environment throughout the year. Remember, regular maintenance and timely repairs are key to extending the lifespan of your air conditioning system and maximizing its performance.


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