The Missing Air Conditioner

How to Fix a Broken air conditioner?

Air Conditioning / January 18, 2023

Air conditioners work hard to keep you cool, and you don't realize how much you rely on them until you are stuck in a sweltering room with no relief. If your air conditioner suddenly goes out, there is no need to panic. Follow these simple steps to bring your A/C unit back online and you may avoid the need to call in an expensive professional.

Check Your Thermostat

Many thermostats are battery-operated, and once they power down so will your air conditioner or heater. Check that your thermostat is fully operational and the connections to the wall are good.

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Check Fuses and Reset Buttons

Under a heavy load, an A/C unit can trip an electrical breaker. Check the breaker box to make sure this hasn't happened, and also use a multimeter to check the fuses inside the disconnect block next to your air conditioner to make sure they are still functioning. If either of these scenarios appear, there could be an underlying electrical problem with your home's main box. Have an electrician look at that.

It can take 15 to 20 minutes for your air conditioner to get up and running after it's tripped a circuit breaker or the power is turned off. Be patient and wait it out before trying something else.

Check and Replace Filters

A clean filter is vital to a well-functioning air conditioner. During the summer it is good to check your filters once a month. If you have pets, leave windows and doors open, or have allergies, you may need to change your filter more often.

A blocked or dirty air condenser can also degrade the performance of your unit. Make sure the vents around your air conditioner are clear of debris and the area surrounding your A/C unit provides plenty of air flow.

Check the Access Panel

Turn off the power at the main box to the A/C unit and open the electrical access panel on the air conditioner. It is usually located where the electrical power comes into the unit. Check for rodent nests and wires that have been chewed or frayed.

Replace the Contactor

Now we're getting into more serious stuff. The contactor is a relay that converts the low-voltage signal from the thermostat into a signal to switch on 220V power to the compressor and condenser. When these contactors fail, the A/C unit will go down. They are a cheap and easy to replace. Check the owner's manual to locate the contactor and replacement model.

Replace the Electrical Capacitor

A capacitor stores electricity and is used during the compressor and fan startup for extra power. It also protects the motor from damage due to fluctuating voltage. These capacitors don't last forever and can go out unexpectedly. If you are comfortable with electrical repairs you can use a screwdriver to discharge the dual start/run capacitor by connecting terminals to short it out, and then replace it with a new one made for the make and model of your A/C. If that's beyond the level of DIY you're comfortable tackling, then call a pro.

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