Central Air Conditioner Not Working?
April 21, 2010
Try These Simple Troubleshooting Steps
If your central air conditioner unit hasn’t been working quite as reliably as you’d like. Does it come on about once every couple of days until it simply “stops” coming on? Is it just not getting as cool in the house as it use to?
Without getting too technical I thought I’d share with you a couple steps you can try before calling us in:
1. Make sure you’re setting the AC thermostat properly: Some thermostats don’t immediately turn on the unit and some have a 2 or 3 degree temperature “window” they use to gauge whether the air conditioner should switch on or not.
2. Make sure your AC thermostat is working well: A lot of homes have electronic thermostats these days and most run on battery power. Those batteries do have to be changed from time to time. Some electronic thermostats have a low battery indicator, but I’ve found that changing the batteries before seeing the indicator has helped in the past. An electronic thermostat is just an automatic switch that basically turns your AC unit on and off at certain temperatures. If the batteries are low the switch may not be turning on or reading the air temperature properly.
3. Check your air conditioner’s fuses and circuit breakers: A central air conditioner may have several different fuses in the whole electrical system. First try resetting the fuse for your central air conditioner at your electrical box by turning it off and then on. For my system I have to then go to my furnace/blower and flick a second switch on and off.
4. Check any AC reset buttons: Some newer air conditioner units have reset buttons which are essentially just fuses as well.
5. Read your central air conditioner’s operations manual: I put this last because, let’s face it, you’ve probably lost or never had the operations manual! If you can find the operations manual to your central air conditioner unit you may want to investigate to see if there are any recommended troubleshooting suggestions. By the way, if you know the brand and model of your central air conditioner you may actually be able to find a copy of the manual online. The same is true if you’re not sure of how your electronic thermostat works.
If you’ve tried most of these and still can’t get your AC working then the problem could be less of an electrical one and more of a mechanical one. Remember: be safe! If you’re uncomfortable trying any of these steps, call us.
From what I’ve seen most central air conditioners have a lifespan of about 12 – 18 years, though I once lived in a house with a little unit that was 22 years old and still running well. Though it might cost you $2,000 – $5,000 to replace it’s important to remember that a new one will be much more energy efficient than your old unit and you’ll have a little more peace of mind when you see those triple digits pop up on the weekly weather forecast!
Good luck and stay cool!