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Three Minor Reasons Why Your Central Air Conditioning System Isn’t Turning On


There are few things more frustrating than to flip on your air conditioner thermostat and then have nothing happen. When the weather heats up, you depend on your air conditioner to work. Fortunately, not all the problems that prevent your air conditioning system from turning on are serious. Below are three common and relatively minor reasons why your central air conditioning system may not be working.

Thermostat Trouble

The thermostat is one of the first places you should check if your air conditioner isn’t turning on this summer. Your system’s functioning begins with the thermostat, and if it fails, then nothing will happen when you flip the switch.

If your thermostat is programmable, then the problem may lie with the batteries. Dead batteries will prevent the thermostat from sending the startup command to the air conditioner. Fortunately, battery replacement is an easy and cheap fix well within the reach of homeowners.

To replace the batteries, reference the thermostat instruction manual to determine how to open the housing and access the batteries. In many cases, the front panel simply pulls off the thermostat, and the batteries will be waiting on the other side.

On occasion, problems with the thermostat are due to user error. For example, if your air conditioner is blowing air continuously but isn’t cooling, then double-check the fan operation switch. Most systems have multiple fan settings, including “on,” “off,” and “auto.” If the switch is set to “on,” change it to “auto” to signal the compressor, and the air conditioner should begin cooling.

Tripped Circuit Breaker or Blown Fuse

Another common cause of an inoperable air conditioning system is a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse, especially in situations where overall power usage is high. Air conditioners draw a lot of amps (electrical current), and this can easily trip a breaker or cause a fuse to blow.

Once again, fixing this problem is easy. Check the circuit or fuse panel and identify the specific breaker or fuse that governs your air conditioner’s operation. Once you find the breaker switch or fuse, either flip the switch back to “on” or replace the burned fuse, as appropriate.

Be careful if your breaker keeps tripping or if fuses keep blowing. More than an inconvenience, constant tripping or blowing can be a sign of underlying electrical problems and should be promptly addressed by an air conditioning professional.

Condensate Pan Switch

Air conditioning systems generate a lot of water in the form of condensate, especially in humid climates. This water is drained via a network of pipes, but a clog can cause devastating water damage should condensate overflow the system and find its way into your home’s insulation, drywall, or structural support.

To prevent damage, air conditioners are fitted with water detection switches that automatically turn off the system if moisture is sensed. If your air conditioner isn’t turning on, then you may want to check the evaporator unit for water.

The evaporator is the indoor component of your system and may be located in the attic, crawl space, basement, or even a closet. Drain pains are located beneath the evaporator; look for standing water inside the pan.

If you find water, then you should contact an air conditioning professional for assistance in unclogging the drain. They will need to chemically treat the drain pipe to remove the buildup of bacterial slime and may even need to suction the material from the pipe if the problem is extensive. The good news is that once the problem is cleared, your air conditioning professional can instruct you on how to prevent future clogs from developing.

In the Cincinnati area, contact HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Drains for assistance with these or any other air conditioning needs you may have. The friendly folks at HELP are willing and able to provide a number of repair and installation services.

Posted in: Air Conditioning

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