Let’s be honest, during a California summer, there is no good time to turn on your air conditioner only to find out that it doesn’t work. And, of course, as luck would have it, this usually tends to happen on a sweltering hot day when all you want to do is sit inside your cool, comfortable, air-conditioned home.
I don’t know about you, but when it starts to get too hot in my house, I have a bit of trouble thinking clearly. I know I’ve heard from more than a few of you homeowners out there that you feel the same way—groggy and foggy in the head.
That’s why today I want to go over what I hope is a helpful list of what to do when your air conditioner is not turning on. It’s sometimes hard to think straight about when you’re overheating, so here’s a guide to help you stay cool when you start to heat up.
A Checklist of What to Do If Your Air Conditioning Is Not Turning On
If your AC isn’t turning on, the first thing I’d recommend is to stay calm. Remember, it’s likely going to heat up in your home pretty quickly without a steady stream of cool air, so if you can stay cool, calm, and collected, you’ll be better for it. Once you’ve taken a few deep breaths, you can start inspecting the situation to try and remedy the issue.
Here’s a checklist of what to do if your air conditioner is not turning on:
- Check the thermostat
- Make sure the breaker on
- Inspect the air filter
- Check the refrigerant levels
#1. Check the Thermostat
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you how often this happens to homeowners. Sometimes, your AC won’t work because you have your thermostat set to “warm” instead of “cool”. If it is, just switch it back to “cool,” and then turn the temperature down by about 5 or 6 degrees to kickstart the cooling process. I know this seems really obvious, but it’s the first thing an HVAC pro will ask you to check when you call them to tell them your AC is not turning on. They don’t want to have to charge you to fix something simple if you can do it yourself!
#2. Make Sure the Breaker Is On
Sometimes, the reason your AC isn’t cooperating is because the circuit breaker is tripped and power can’t get to your unit. Head on over to your electrical panel and have a look to see if the breaker for your AC has been tripped. If it has, turn the breaker to “off” and then switch it to “on.” If the breaker trips again after a few minutes, don’t reset it again. This likely means you’ve got a grounded circuit and you’ll need to call in an electrician to fix that for you.
#3. Inspect the Air Filter
I’ve talked a lot about the importance of keeping your AC air filter clean and changing it out every one or two months, but I know there are still people out there who don’t do this. If you’ve got a dirty, clogged filter, your HVAC may be preventing the return of air to the AC, which can eventually shut down your compressor, making it impossible for your AC to turn on.
If you’ve got a dirty, clogged filter, your HVAC may be preventing the return of air to the AC, which can eventually shut down your compressor, making it impossible for your AC to turn on.
So, have a look and make sure your filter is clean, and change it out while you’re there. Sometimes, people actually realize they don’t have an air filter at all, which also may be causing the problem. I’ve talked about what happens if you don’t use an air filter in your AC unit, but essentially it can clog up your whole system, cause it to overheat, and cause damage that results in your machine shutting off and refusing to turn back on. If this is the case, call a pro right away.
#4. Check the Refrigerant Levels
ACs will often stop working if the refrigerant levels are low because without enough refrigerant your unit can’t properly cool air. I actually wouldn’t recommend checking the levels yourself, unless you know AC units like the back of your hand, because the chemicals refrigerant is made of can be dangerous. I’d suggest calling a pro if you suspect the refrigerant levels may be low or there may be a leak in your system. They’ll be able to safely detect any leaks and refill the refrigerant so that your system can run properly.
When to Call A Pro to Fix Your AC That Won’t Turn On
I know not everyone’s comfortable troubleshooting with their AC units, so if your air conditioner isn’t turning on and you aren’t confident inspecting things on your own to find the problem, no sweat. I honestly think that it’s better to call in a pro anyway at the first signs of AC trouble, like the friendly HVAC experts at Bell Brothers. They’ll be able to diagnose and fix the problem in no time—and you can save yourself the stress of trying to do it yourself.
If you do know your way around an AC fairly well, and you’ve made it through the steps above but your air conditioner still isn’t turning on, it’s time to call a pro.
If you do know your way around an AC fairly well, and you’ve made it through the steps above but your air conditioner still isn’t turning on, it’s time to call a pro. There could be a whole host of problems going on—from a broken motor to a dirty condenser—and without that expert knowledge and the right tools, you probably won’t figure out what that is. Plus, you may even need to order a new part for your unit or replace your AC, and if that is the case you’re going to want the pros to help you do that.
Scheduling regular HVAC maintenance is the best thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your AC and keep it working well all summer long.
The truth is, nobody wants their air conditioner to fail, especially during those hot summer months when we rely on it to keep us cool here in Northern California. While AC problems can seem totally unexpected, there is a lot you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place. Scheduling regular HVAC maintenance is the best thing you can do to extend the lifespan of your AC and keep it working well all summer long. Bell Brothers, for instance, offers a 30-point maintenance check that involves cleaning the unit, oiling and greasing all the parts, and checking for any small problems that can be fixed before they turn into bigger ones.
Remember, even though it seems like it, it isn’t the end of the world if your air conditioner isn’t turning on. That’s probably just the heat speaking. Now you know that there’s a lot you can do to try to get it working again—and if you can’t, the HVAC pros have got your back.
At Bell Brothers, our trained HVAC professionals would love to fix your AC and give it a little TLC with regular maintenance. We would also be delighted to make your home more energy efficient by installing an energy-efficient central air system—or even new windows. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
Wondering how to finance your home upgrades—like a new air conditioner? HERO is a unique financing option that helps California homeowners afford energy efficient upgrades to their home. Contact Bell Brothers, a HERO-approved contractor, to learn more. Our local HVAC, plumbing, and window specialists will walk you through the entire process, from applications to installation.
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