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My Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On – And Other Common AC Problems

Serving Durand, Eau Claire & Hudson WI

You can almost always expect it. Just as summer rears its head and the temperature and the humidity become more intense, your air conditioning system lets you down. If you find yourself in this unlucky situation, don’t sweat it — call Hurlburt Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

In a lot of cases, the reasons for failure are relatively easy to fix or can be prevented with regular maintenance.

Here is a list of common AC problems people experience and what you can do about them.

What would cause an AC unit to not turn on?

One of the most prevalent problems is that your thermostat is not working properly. The thermostat is the means through which you communicate with your air conditioner. So, if the thermostat isn't operating properly, your air conditioner won't know it has to be turned on. A professional HVAC expert will need to repair your malfunctioning thermostat.

Another common issue is that the circuit breaker has been tripped. This most commonly happens if there are power outages following a storm. Locate your electrical panel and examine the AC switch. Simply flip it to the "ON" position if it is currently in the "OFF" position. If the circuit continues to trip, have an HVAC technician run a diagnostic to determine if this is caused by an issue with the air conditioner or the electrical circuit.

What do you do if your air conditioner won't turn on?

First, examine your thermostat. Check that your thermostat is set to COOL and that the temperature is set at least 5 degrees lower than the present inside temperature. Check the air filters next. If they are coated with dust, the filters are smothering your system, causing the AC to go into self-preservation mode and shut down. Try changing your filters and seeing what happens. If neither of these helped fix the problem, check the circuit breaker; it is quite possible that the breaker has tripped. This is common with power surges, and the issue might harm your HVAC system.

How do I reset my air conditioning unit?
  • Begin by turning off your air conditioner. Next, go to the circuit breaker panel and turn off the breaker that powers your air conditioner. Turn off the power switch that your AC unit is linked to outside.
  • Next, look for the reset button. A reset button is found on the majority of air conditioners. These buttons are usually red and tiny. Consult your owner's manual if you're having trouble finding it. (If you can't find the manual, most of them are available online for easy access.)
  • Hold the reset button down for 3 to 5 seconds before releasing it. You may hear or feel a click as it engages.
  • Restart your air conditioner. Turn on all of the switches, including the one in your breaker panel. Now you should be reset!

AC Unit Won’t Come On

Sometimes curiously, an air conditioning unit won’t come on, but the fan in the furnace seems to be working just fine. There can be many reasons for this. First, check your thermostat to make sure it is working properly. A broken thermostat can easily disable an entire AC system and is an easy DIY repair.

If your thermostat check out and isn't the problem, check your home’s circuit breaker and also the circuit breaker outside near the unit. Do note that if you suspect it may be the breaker, it's a good idea to try and figure out what might have caused it to trip, before you attempt to reset it. If you flip the breaker and it does trip again, don’t repeat the process, call a professional to diagnose and repair the problem.

If you have an extensive garden growing around your unit, it could also be a reason your air conditioner isn't coming on. Grass, leaves and debris can be easily sucked into the vents of your AC unit and cause damage to the capacitor. If you have reason to believe this might have happened, you will need to call for service.

Air Conditioning Unit is Suddenly Noisy

Most air conditioners make at least some noise when they are running, which is normal. If you are hearing vibrations or loud rattling noises, something could be wrong. This is definitely reason to have the AC unit checked by a professional.

Sometimes people report squealing sounds when their air conditioner is running. This may actually be coming from your air handler, the part of the ac system that regulates and directs air through the ductwork. Most new air handlers have direct-drive motors, but older units may be belt driven. The squeaking noise sometimes occurs when the belt connecting the blower to the motor slips. If you suspect this is the case, turn off your ac unit and call a professional to get proper diagnosis and repairs.

AC Runs, But My Home isn't Cooling

If air is coming out of the vents, but it is not coming out cold, you might have a stalled condenser coil, the part of the air conditioning unit that produces cold air. Even if the air conditioner isn't working properly, the fan will still run. Condenser failure can be caused by a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. In some cases, it isn’t the condenser at all and a lack of cool air can be due to low refrigerant. In either case it is best to contact a professional air conditioner repair professional to help you diagnose the problem.

Has the lack of cool air flow been gradual or seems to be fairly minimal? Your air conditioner may not be to blame at all. You could have leaks in your ductwork that are allowing cool air to escape. If your ducts are older, or tightly constructed you might be a good idea to have your air ducts inspected, sealed and possibly cleaned.

Anytime your air conditioner fails or you suspect something is mechanically wrong, contact a professional to help you diagnose the problem. At Hurlburt Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we recommend regular maintenance to keep your unit running smoothly. We offer AC service and repair near Durand, Eau Claire & Hudson to help you avoid costly repairs and unexpected system failures so you can stay cool!

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