AC Won’t Turn On? Try These Fixes


On those hot summer days, all you want to do is turn on the air conditioner for some relief from the heat. When the AC isn’t working, it can be very uncomfortable in your home. Because of that, having an AC that won’t turn on can be one of the most frustrating things. Before you buy a new AC, you should try to save money and fix your current unit. Here are some ways that you can fix an AC that won’t turn on.

How to Fix AC Won’t Turn On

Fix Tripping Circuit Breaker

How Does Circuit Breaker Work

A circuit breaker is automatically operated by an electrical switch. This is made to protect the electric circuit from damage caused by any excess current. Its function is to interrupt the current flow whenever something wrong is detected. This might be confused as a fuse to people who aren’t electricians or well- versed in wiring. A fuse operates once and then it has to be replaced. The circuit breaker can be reset manually or automatically to begin normal operation. You don’t want to disregard the circuit breaker turning off because it turns off for a reason.

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Circuit breakers are made in a lot of sizes and you might have a small device or a large switchgear device. The smaller devices protect the low current circuits or household appliances, but a larger one is made to protect high voltage circuits, such as the one speeding an entire city.

Circuit breakers all have common features that cause them to work properly, but there are substantial differences depending on the voltage class, type of circuit breaker, and current rate. To work, the circuit breaker must detect a fault and its condition. This is usually done within the device in smaller and low voltage voltage circuit breakers. Usually, the heating or magnetic effects of the electric current are used to detect this condition. The circuit breakers for large current or high voltages are usually arranged differently to sense a fault condition and to operate the opening mechanism. This requires a separate power source to function.

Once the circuit breaker detects what’s wrong, it must open to interrupt the circuit. This is done because the circuit breaker mechanically stores energy inside of the breaker to separate the contacts. Circuit breakers also have to use higher current caused by the Fall to separate the contacts. The smaller ones usually have manual control over the lever to switch off or reset itself.

If your circuit breaker is tripping, It’s very beneficial to know how circuit breakers function. Here are a few reasons why your circuit breaker might be tripping and ways that you can troubleshoot the situation.

Test for Circuit Overload

If you want to test for a circuit overload, you need to go to the electric panel when the breaker trips. Turn off all the switches in the affected areas and unplug all of the appliances and devices in this area. Make sure you wait a few minutes to see if the circuit will stay on. Each time you turn on a light or appliance, you’ll be drawing more electricity through the wires and if the breaker trips before you turn on all the appliances, then you want to do this again but in a different order. Go through this process several times to get an idea of how many appliances you can use at the same time before you overload the circuit and it trips.

This is a very common reason for tripping circuit breakers and you can prevent this from happening easily. You can first try to run fewer appliances at the same time on that circuit. This is only a short-term solution. For a long term solution, you should have an electrician update all your wiring to put more circuits in. Adding more circuits would give your circuit breaker an easier time managing all of the appliances. You should have a separate circuit, for example, handling the part of the kitchen and part of your living room. This will allow you to use appliances in the living room and in the kitchen at the same time without overloading the system.

Test for Short Circuit

Another thing you need to test for is a short circuit. A short circuit means that there are two wires that should not be coming in contact with each other touching. A short circuit can happen in an outlet, switch, or where there are loose wires. Also, you should consider if your wires are damaged by any mice or pets chewing on them because this will also cause a short circuit. When an electrical short happens because of a short circuit, it causes a sudden surge of electricity in the wires and the circuit breaker will trip as a safety measure.

If you want to see if an appliance has a short circuit, then you need to perform a test similar to the one that you would do for an overloaded circuit. You have to plug in and turn on the appliance that you think has a short circuit. This will trip the circuit immediately if it does have a short circuit. You might want to try plugging it into an outlet in a different room to see if the breaker for that one trips too. If it does, then there’s definitely a short in the appliance. You want to make sure to not use the appliance until it’s fixed because you could be risking getting shocked.

Besides a short circuit occurring inside the appliance, a short circuit can also occur in a wall switch or an outlet. Hit the breaker switch every time you use a specific light switch or plug something into a specific outlet to test this. This means that there is a short circuit inside that, and your home wiring has to be inspected and repaired by a licensed professional. You’ll want to stop using the switch or the plug until you have a professional come fix the issue.

Unclog Air Filter

Air filters are very important in your AC. It’s job is to keep dust and debris out of the AC unit. So much debris can build-up on the air filter in such a short amount of time. Depending on the air quality of where you are in the dust in your house, the AC filter could fill up very fast.

If the AC filter gets clogged, the dust and dirt will start getting into the AC unit itself. This will cause a lot of wear and tear on all of the parts in it. More wear and tear means that you’ll be dealing with a breakdown in a short amount of time. Clogged filters also cause air flowing from the system to be blocked so it can’t work properly. You should change your AC filter every month during peak season but often people forget to. Here’s how you change the air filter.

1. Locate the air filter in your AC unit. This could be in a lot of different places. You might want to consult your owner’s manual to see where the air filters are located. Sometimes they’re located in the air duct. Other times it might be located elsewhere and you won’t have to open anything.

2. Turn off the power of the AC. You don’t want to risk touching any live voltage. This keeps you and your equipment safe because it won’t be running and getting debris clogged in the unit.

3. Remove the old filter. You can just slide it out of the slot that it’s in.

4. Check the condition of the filter. See if it’s clogged with dirt and dust. If it’s really clogged, you should be able to hold it up to the light and not see any light coming through. The filter should be replaced or cleaned depending on what type of you have. Replace it even if it’s been installed for less time than the manufacturer recommends because there are a lot of factors that go into impacting how fast your filter is clogged.

5. If you have a reusable filter you can clean it. It’s usually made of sturdy material with a metal frame and a special coating that makes it washable. You should check the manufacturer’s instructions for washing if you have a reusable one. You can probably just rinse it with water and let it dry. If you have a disposable filter, it usually has a cardboard frame and a paper or fiber mesh surface. These need to be replaced by the proper air filters for your unit.

6. Insert the cleaned or new filter into the slot. There’s usually an arrow on the frame that shows you which direction the air should flow. Make sure you inserted it correctly and make sure the arrow points away from the return and towards the air handler.

Now you’re done, and you should remember to do this at least a few times a year to ensure that your AC stays blowing cold air and that your air stays clean.

Solve Fan and Motor Issues

Fix Fan and Motor Issues

If you’re having fun or motor issues, then this could cause your AC to not be able to blow cold air. If you have dirty blades or a loose fan, this is a problem you can probably take care of yourself. If the motor is what’s wrong, then you might have some issue replacing this, so you might want to call in a professional if you don’t notice anything wrong with the blades.

To check the fan, you want to first open the AC units cabinet and find it. Once you locate it, clean away any debris that’s on the blades with a soft cloth or a handheld vacuum cleaner if some of it looks like you can be vacuumed up. You can now check if the blades are loose after you clean them. Tighten in the blades to the shaft where they are connected with a screwdriver or an allen wrench. If your air conditioner has a round vent fan, you can use a long blade screwdriver to secure it at the port of the fan to tighten the fan on the motor shaft.

If your fan has oil ports that keep it moving smoothly, you can add some drops of 20 weight non-detergent motor oil (view on Amazon) in each of the ports. You should do this at the start of each cold season, which means at the beginning of summer or spring, just to get your AC moving healthily. Don’t use all purpose oil on this because it will ruin the ports.

If you think that the fan motor is an issue and it’s not just the blades, you might want to test it with a volt-ohmeter (view on Amazon) (VOM). Disconnect the terminal wires from their terminals carefully. Then click the VOM probes to the wires. Your VOM should be sent to the RX1 scale to do this measurement. The reading should be anywhere from 3 to 30 ohms and your fan motor should be working if the reading Falls between those two numbers. If you have a reading outside of these, then you need to replace a fan motor.

To switch the fan motor, you have to remove the fan by unscrewing the screws. Carefully remove the power wires and the mounting bolts. You can usually install the new fan motor by just reversing this procedure. Beware if your AC has condenser coils. If these are blocking the fan motor you cannot remove them yourself and you’ll have to call a professional to do it for you.

One of these fixes should get your AC to turn on. If it doesn’t, then you might want to get a new AC unit (view on Amazon).


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