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Now that the warm weather’s here, your AC is about to become essential. Fresh air feels great, and it’s great for you, but as the temperatures keep rising, you’ll need that cool comfort at home.

But what happens when your central air won’t turn on when you need it?

The good news is that the problem may be small enough to fix yourself. If that’s the case, you can save yourself the cost of an HVAC appointment — never mind waiting in the heat for your appointment.

In this article, we’ll outline the four most common reasons your AC won’t turn on. We’ll tell you which you can fix yourself, and when you’ll need a professional.

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Top Four Reasons Your Central AC Won’t Turn On

The four most common causes for a central AC system not turning on are:

  1. The thermostat is damaged or set incorrectly
  2. The power is disconnected
  3. The condenser is damaged
  4. The fan motor is stuck or broken

Your thermostat may need to be adjustedThe thermostat is damaged or set incorrectly

The easiest fix could be the thermostat: Sometimes, you didn’t set it for the AC to turn on even if you thought you did.

Check the settings: Is it on “Cool,” “Heat,” or “Fan Only?” If you still have it on heat from the winter, it won’t turn on, even if you set the temperature lower than the temperature in your house.

That’s because it’s waiting for the temp to drop that low before it does anything.

You may also hear the fan kick on, but you don’t get any cooled air. If that happens, make sure you don’t have it set to “Fan Only.”

That’s a useful setting for the spring and fall: When it’s not so hot or cold that you need heat or AC, but you want some air circulation. That setting turns on the fan, so your house gets fresh air. But, it doesn’t offer heating or cooling.

It’s a simple oversight: If you haven’t touched your thermostat in a while, you may overlook the last setting. Start there, and hopefully, it solves your problem.

Maintenance Agreements

The power is disconnected

Next, we start checking the condenser. Before we go any further, we need to stress: Be careful! Make visual inspections. Try not to poke around too much and don’t take anything apart. You risk electric shock and injury — not to mention doing even more damage to the air conditioner.

That said, let’s do some simple, safe troubleshooting.

First, start with your circuit breaker. Make sure none of the breakers turned off. Sometimes, a sudden surge when you turn on a large appliance will trip it. If you notice once, flip the switch back and make sure it doesn’t trip again. Then, try your AC.

If that’s not the problem, check your outside unit for any damage to the wires or lines leading from the condenser into your home. Depending on your setup, you may be able to see the power lines and where they plug in as you follow the lines.

Any disconnections or damage could be the problem. But you’ll need a professional. We’ll also note you may locate a circuit box on the unit. Don’t open it. It’s not as user-friendly as the one in your house.

The condenser is damaged

If there are no problems with the lines, look over the entire outdoor unit. This is also an excellent time to clear out any trash or lawn debris piled up around it.

Now, the problem here may be any number of issues you can’t see. They run the gamut from wiring and electrical to mechanical. Any signs of damage on the outside can indicate a problem somewhere you can’t access.

One sign to watch for: ice on the condenser. It’s a sign that you have a coolant leak. As the refrigerant liquid escapes from the system, it freezes when it hits the air. It’s a fixable problem, but it’s tricky if your AC is more than ten years old. We go into why in this article.

The fan motor is stuck or broken

The last thing you can check on the condenser is the fan motor. But, tread very carefully.

First, look down from the top of the condenser. You should see the fan just below the grill. Check for signs of damage and even animals nesting in there.

Sometimes, the problem is with the power source leading to the fan. Unfortunately, it’s not a good idea to test this yourself. If it starts up, you can lose a finger. In most cases, once you complete the visual inspection, it’s then time to call in a professional.

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AC Tune Ups, Maintenance and Service Near York, PA

You may not be able to avoid a problem where your AC won’t turn on. But, you can at least take care of it before it’s an even bigger inconvenience.

If you haven’t started using your cooling system, call or email us here at Comfort Air for an AC tune up. That’s where a professional checks more than 100 points across the system to ensure everything’s working properly.

If there’s a problem, they’ll catch it then. Hopefully, the tech can nip it in the bud, when it’s a cheaper and easier fix. Even if not, you can deal with it before the weather gets too hot.

Or, if you’re already noticing problems, call or email us right away. We’ll get to the bottom of things and have your home cool and comfortable again as soon as possible.
Click to Schedule an Appointment


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