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Help! My AC Won't Turn On

When summer is in full swing, you count on your AC to beat the heat. Feeling less like a penguin on an iceberg and more like a fish in a fryer? It’s time to figure out why your AC isn’t working.

Why Your AC Won't Turn On

Here are some tips to determine why your air conditioner isn't turning on.

Potential Issues

  • AC keeps turning on and off
  • air conditioner won’t turn on

Like all electronics, your air conditioner has wires that control the flow of power to its electrical components. If those wires get damaged or wear down, it can cause a huge range of problems that will impact your whole AC system. If your AC's electrical is starting to fail, you’ll need to have it inspected and repaired. This type of troubleshooting requires training and knowledge that should be handled by a technician.

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  • water leaking from heating or cooling system
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • heating unit won't turn on

The condensate pump on your HVAC unit is used to pump out the water (condensate) that the unit produces during the heating and cooling process. In order to work properly, the condensate pump must be plugged in. If it is not, the HVAC unit won't function properly. If the condensate pump was not wired correctly into the safety circuits, the HVAC unit will continue to produce condensate and can cause water damage.

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  • air is too hot
  • air conditioner won’t turn on

For your air conditioning unit to work, your thermostat must be set to "Cool" and your desired temperature needs to be set. It's common to shut down your air conditioner while you're away or over the winter months. However, if there is no airflow, humidity levels could rise and cause mold or mildew growth and your home will not be comfortable.

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  • AC keeps turning on and off
  • air is too hot
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • not reaching temperature set on thermostat

The outside unit, called a condenser, does the majority of the work to cool your home. It's made up of a compressor, refrigerant coil, fan motor with a blade, capacitors, and a contactor. The compressor circulates refrigerant, which traps heat in the indoor unit and transfers it to the outdoor unit. Once it's outside, the heat is released into the wild, leaving your home cooler than it was before. If the condenser isn't working properly, then your cooling system won't be effective or may not work at all.

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  • no power in some rooms
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • no power to devices
  • heating unit won't turn on
  • power is out
  • no heat coming from vents
  • no lights on the dryer display

A circuit breaker is the central source of electrical power in your home that supplies your network of electrical control circuits that run power to outlets, lights, alarms, etc with power. When your circuit breaker is overloaded with too much power for one reason or another, it trips. A tripped circuit breaker may cause you to lose power in one room or more, depending on how many rooms are powered by a circuit. It’s important to remember that tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses are not a cause, they are a symptom. Something else is going on with your system to cause it to overload.

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  • puddle around the indoor air conditioning unit
  • air conditioner won’t turn on

When your HVAC system is running, condensation builds up inside. The condensate pump works to remove the condensation from the unit and pump it through the discharge line where it can be safely drained. If water is collecting around the blower unit on the floor, that's a strong sign that there's an issue with your condensate pump. If the pump stops working properly, the secondary float switch in the pump will keep your A/C from turning on at all. Keeping up with your annual HVAC maintenance will help to avoid pump failure and keep you cool all summer long.

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  • Auxiliary heat light is on
  • HVAC unit is shut off
  • heating unit won't turn on
  • air conditioner won’t turn on

The control board is crucial for your comfort at home. The board (or panel) has a lot of responsibility, including turning your system on and off, processing system commands, and letting you know when there's an issue. If the control board fails, your entire HVAC system will shut down because the entire system relies on it. A malfunction in the control panel could be a result of faulty wiring, a loss of electrical power to the system, or a burnout of the control board itself. If your HVAC system is not working properly (you notice things like poor airflow or inconsistent temperatures), check the control board. When it malfunctions, you’ll see the panel light up with LED lights, or you might find burnt spots on the board. These are signs that it’s time for a decision to repair or replace the equipment.

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  • house is making noise
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • blower sounds strange
  • furnace keeps turning on and off
  • furnace is leaking water

The heating and cooling system in your home is a mechanical system with many moving parts. Unlike most of your home appliances, it is exposed to the outside environment, refrigerant pressures, temperature changes during and after operation, motor bearing wear and electronic circuits that weaken. Though designed to be hardy and work reliably for years, there comes a point in the system's life where components wear out and the cost of the repair exceeds the remaining value of the system.

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  • air conditioner won’t turn on

There are fan motors in both the indoor and outdoor units of your AC system. These motors keep air flowing through your air conditioner to keep the refrigerant at the proper temperature and pressure. If they stop working, the limit control will prevent the unit from running. Fan motor failures in the indoor unit aren't good, but if the motor in your compressor fails — that’s the equivalent of blowing the engine in your car. You'll need to get it replaced before your unit will run again.

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  • no power in some rooms
  • power is out
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • heating unit won't turn on

There are many individual circuits in a home. Power reaches breakers via the street transformer (or the electric service drop), which is the bundle of electrical cables that run from the utility company's power pole to the connection at your house. If the service drop goes down (or electrical service fails), all power in your home will shut off won't work properly.

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