An air conditioner (AC) that doesn’t turn on is a real bummer. The worst part is that it usually happens at a time when you need it the most. It’s normally during the warmer season when it seems to quit working. You reach over to turn the knob only to hear an empty, dry click. What should you do?

There are many reasons why this happens. You could have a faulty thermostat, a clogged condensate drain, or ice buildup. It’s possible that the problem could be a shutoff switch. This happens during AC repairs where a technician usually shuts off the unit switch for safety reasons. The first thing you should do is locate the external shutoff and flip it to the “on” position.

In some cases, all you have to do is reset your air conditioner. But sometimes, the problem can be more than that. Below are several reasons why your AC won’t turn on and what you can do about them.

Thermostat Trouble

Issues with your thermostat are one of the leading causes of an AC not working. The first thing you should do is check the setting. Make sure the temperature is set to cool, then adjust it to a few degrees lower than normal. Check and replace your batteries as needed. Run your unit for a while and notice the temperature in the room. If it’s still hot, the sensor may be off. You may need to replace it in order to keep your AC running at an optimal temperature.

Indoor or Outdoor Shutoff Switches Are Shut Off

Because they closely resemble a light switch, indoor shutoff switches are often accidentally turned to the “off” position. They’re usually situated near the furnace, crawl space, attic, or closet. Once you find it in one of those places, check to see if it’s on. If not, switch it back to the “on” position and then turn on your AC.

The same holds true for your outdoor shutoff switch. If you’ve had recent maintenance done on your AC, your technician may have shut it off and forgotten to turn it back on. You can locate it outdoors near your AC to turn it back on.

Use colored tape to distinguish it from other electric switches in your home or label them by name. This makes it easier for you to distinguish them from other switches in your home. Every switch looks the same, and it’s important not to confuse them.

Your AC Needs to Be Reset

Sometimes, all it takes to get your AC up and running again is a little resetting. It can be done in two ways: through your thermostat or through the reset button on your unit. The idea is to restore your AC so that it’s on and fully functioning again.

If your unit has a reset button, you can try pressing it to restore it to its original state. If your AC does not have a reset button, that’s fine. You can perform this same function by turning off your thermostat for 5-10 minutes. This should give you ample time to reset your entire cooling system.

Keep in mind that there are different ways to reset each type of thermostat. For some, such as the programmable thermostat, you may need to turn them off and remove the batteries for a few minutes. Other thermostats, such as the low voltage thermostat, need to be cleaned on the inside. The non-programmable digital thermostat has a reset button you can push to reset, and the mechanical thermostat can be turned off by hand. When doing so, it is advised that you reset your circuit breaker as well.

Ice Buildup

Frequent use of your air conditioner can lead to ice buildup over time. A routine check can uncover any icy residue inside your unit. In most cases, you’ll need to wait for your AC to defrost because running it would cause further damage at this point. Although there are a multitude of reasons for ice buildup, it’s never a bad idea to call an HVAC technician for an assessment.

Bad Indoor Blower Motor

An indoor blower motor is the reason your AC is able to churn out air inside your home. It sends air through the evaporator coil to cool your home. So, if your AC unit fails to turn on, the problem may lie in the indoor blower motor.

Faulty Float Switch

When your AC runs, it can build up water over time. Any water that fills up the AC’s drain pan can trigger the float switch to shut down your entire unit. This is a protective measure that keeps your AC safe from harm. However, a faulty float switch can cause your unit to remain off. In this case, call your technician immediately.

Overflowing EZ Trap

Air conditioners that run constantly during the summer months will condensate more. This means that they produce extra water that exits out of the drain line away from your home. Your EZ trap is a major part of this routing system. Water runs straight through it, which helps your drainage system free your AC from excess water.

But like with most parts, things can quickly go wrong with your EZ trap. One of the most common mishaps with EZ traps are clogs, which can cause a water backup. When this happens, it sends the command for your AC to shut off. A faulty or malfunctioning EZ trap may cause your AC to stop suddenly during a cooling cycle.

Dirty Air Filter

A dirty air filter is bad for the indoor environment. It causes pollutants to circulate through your air conditioner and into your home. Breathing these toxins is harmful to your health, especially if you suffer from a respiratory condition. But a dirty air filter impacts more than just indoor air quality. It can also block your AC from turning on.

The dirt builds up gradually and interrupts airflow. Consequently, temperatures throughout your home may be inconsistent. Some rooms may remain hot, while others stay cold. Cold air is restricted, which causes ice to build up. This is what can stop your AC from turning on.

Servicing your air filter on a routine basis is vital for keeping your AC going. A good rule of thumb is to have your air filters checked every 90 days and changed as needed.

Circuit Breaker Problems

A tripped circuit breaker happens during a power surge when a circuit gets overloaded. This often occurs with bad weather, especially when there’s lightning outside. Other causes are circuits that are overloaded by running appliances or devices. Circuit breakers automatically shut off power to all appliances during a surge. So, if you’ve experienced a recent power surge, a tripped breaker could be the reason your AC isn’t turning on.

Call the Pros!

At Meade’s Heating and Air, we specialize in all kinds of HVAC services for Sterling, VA and the surrounding areas. We service AC units, furnaces, and other HVAC components. We provide regular maintenance and can get your AC up and running immediately. Call or visit our website to learn more.

Meade's Heating and Air

company icon