How to Discharge a Capacitor

Before working on any motor, be sure you discharge the capacitor. Capacitors store energy and can pack a serious and potentially dangerous jolt of electricity.

Things You'll Need

  • Alligator Clips
  • Slotted Screwdrivers


    • 1

      Unplug the power feeding the motor.

    • 2

      Pick up a 20,000-ohm, 2-watt wire resistor at an electronics store. Be sure it's a wire-wound resistor.

    • 3

      Stick a jumper on each end of the resistor, using two jumpers with alligator clips.

    • 4

      Clip one free end of a jumper to the flat edge of a standard screwdriver with an insulated handle.

    • 5

      Attach the final jumper to one terminal of the capacitor.

    • 6

      Touch the tip of the screwdriver to the other terminal.

Tips & Warnings

  • If there are more than two terminals on the capacitor, be sure to attach the clip to each one and discharge all of them.
  • If you don't fully understand this procedure or it makes you uncomfortable or you're unsure if you did it correctly, consult a licensed electrician.
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