Power Supply Filter Capacitor Problems
There are a limited number of ways for the power supply filter capacitors to
be bad. All of the tests on power filter capacitors must be considered hazardous
since they may store deadly amounts of voltage and charge even with the amplifier
Any time you suspect power filter capacitors, do the following:
With the amplifier unplugged and the chassis open, connect one end of a clip lead
to the metallic chassis. Clip the other end of the lead to a 10K 1/2W or larger
resistor. Holding the resistor with an insulating piece of material, touch the free
end of the resistor to each section of the power filter capacitors for at least 30 seconds.
- Visually inspect the capacitor(s) for any signs of bulging, leaking, dents and
other mechanical damage. If you have any of these, replace the capacitor.
Also note the condition of any series dropping resistors connected to the capacitors
to see if they have been damaged by heat. Replace them if they have.
- Use an ohmmeter to measure the resistance from the (+) terminal of each capacitor
to the (-). This should be over 15K ohms, preferably much over that. If you get less than
that on any capacitor, unsolder that capacitor and remeasure just the capacitor. Under
15K indicates a dead or dying capacitor; replace it. If the resistance is now much higher
with the cap unsoldered, there is a low resistance load pulling current, not a faulty
Always check all of the power filter capacitors while you're in there. If one is bad,
consider replacing them all (see "Cap Job" in the
Tube Amp FAQ)
- If there is no obvious mechanical problem and the resistance seems high enough,
temporarily solder a new, known good capacitor of at least as high a capacitance and
voltage across the suspected capacitor or section., then plug in and try the amplifier
again. If this fixes the problem, turn the amplifier off, unplug it, drain the filter capacitors
again, and replace at least the bad section if not all of the filter capacitors.
If you are replacing a multisection can, get a replacement can with multiple sections matching
the original before you remove the original capacitor. Once you get it, make yourself a note of the
symbol on each terminal of the old capacitor, such as square=1uF/450V, triangle=20uF 450V, etc.
and then clip the old terminal with the symbol off the old can. Remove the old can, mount the new
one, and use the symbol chart and lugs still on the leads to make sure you connect the right sections
up in the new capactor.