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AC Condenser Not Turning On? Time For A Fix

It’s hard to keep cool when your air conditioner won’t. The outside unit of your AC, called a condenser, does the majority of the work to cool your home. If your AC condenser isn’t turning on, it’s time to investigate what may have gone wrong.

Why Is My AC Condenser Not Turning On?

Your AC condenser is made up of many parts, including the compressor, refrigerant coil, fan motor, capacitors, and a contactor. When one or more of these parts stops working, your condenser will likely follow suit. If you can’t hear the outdoor AC fan running or if your AC keeps turning on and off, you’ll want to check on your condenser to get cool air back into your home.

How to check your AC condenser

  • Take a look at your thermostat. Is the screen on? If the thermostat screen is blank, then your AC system won't know when to turn on or off.

  • Take a look at the settings on your thermostat. It should be set to 'Cool', not 'Heat' or 'Off'. The temperature setpoint should also be 2–3 degrees lower than the temperature of the house.

    Adjust the settings as needed and wait for the air conditioner to turn on. If it does, then the thermostat settings were likely the issue. If it doesn't turn on, you'll need to continue investigating.

  • Is the circuit breaker your air conditioner is on tripped? If you've had a storm recently or have been using a lot of electricity, the breaker might have tripped. Check your electrical panel for any switches in the "tripped" position. A tripped circuit breaker will be in the mid-position, halfway between on and off. To reset the breaker, firmly push the handle to the off position, then to the on position. Check to see if your condenser is working again.

    CAUTION: If the circuit breaker trips again, don't reset it, call a technician to diagnose the cause to prevent further damage.

  • See if the condensate pump is plugged in to a working outlet. The condensate pump is a small box next to the furance that has a power plug and a clear tube coming out of it. Follow the plug and make sure it's plugged in. Double check the outlet to make sure it's working as well. If the GFCI has tripped, reset it.

  • Your outside unit has copper refrigerant lines going in and out of the back of it. Check to see if the larger copper line is cold and sweating. If it is, that means that the system is likely working correctly. If it's about the same temperature as the outside air or has ice on it, there is an issue to be corrected by a technician.

    The smaller copper line should be body temperature or slightly warmer. If it's hot, that means that the outdoor refrigerant coil may need to be cleaned, the refrigerant charge may not be correct, or the outdoor fan motor may not be running at the correct RPM.

  • Listen to the condenser while the system is on and see if you can hear a faint "hum". A humming sound means that the control circuit is telling the condenser to run. If it's humming but isn't working, and you've already checked your circuit breakers, then an electrical component is to blame.

    When an electrical component (such as a contactor or capacitor) fails, you'll need a multimeter to investigate furtner. Parts within the equipment are best left to a trained technician to diagnose and repair unless you're familiar with working on electronics. If you have a multimeter and feel comfortable moving forward, remote Assist can guide you through the next steps on video chat.

Is your AC condenser the problem? If not, consider other reasons for why your air conditioner is struggling to operate.

What To Do If Your AC Condenser Is Not Turning On?

If your AC condenser won’t turn on, you’ll want to hire a professional technician to inspect it. One of our Remote Assist technicians would be more than happy to help you assess and diagnose the issue with your AC condenser.

NOTE: This content is for informational purposes only, and HomeX and its affiliates disclaim all liability related to it. If you decide to perform any tasks based on this information, you assume all risks, including the risk of loss or damage to property or personal injury.

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