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A Guide to the Top 3 Power Related Air Conditioner Problems

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Last Updated on June 25, 2015


Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner: Problems with Power

It’s incredibly frustrating when your air conditioner experiences power-related issues because you often don’t know who to call, the electrician or the air conditioning service guy. Since you’re probably not an expert in wiring and electricity, the danger of high voltage is enough (as it should be!) to keep you from trying to figure it out on your own. Here’s a quick guide to the top 3 power issues you could be experiencing, and what to do if it happens to you.

1. The air conditioner won’t turn back on after a power failure

If you just experienced a thunderstorm, a lightning strike can cause a power surge that can trip the breaker. Even if it was just a seemingly random outage not caused by a storm, there can still be a surge when the power returns. That’s just the circuit breaker doing its job of protecting your equipment. You just have to reset the breaker and turn the unit back on. If the unit does not come back on, there is more damage and you need to call in a professional. If it’s just the air conditioner that’s affected, call in your air conditioning service provider. If more than one circuit is affected, call the electrician first.

2. The air conditioner’s circuit breaker keeps tripping

If it is tripping repeatedly, don’t turn it back on! The circuit breaker’s job is to protect your building, wiring, and equipment by shutting off the flow of electricity when the current flow gets too high. If it keeps tripping, you could risk a fire if you turn it back on. If it’s only the air conditioning circuit, your air conditioner is overheating, which causes it to draw too much power. This problem could be caused by any of the following issues:

Maintenance Issues

Did you forget to have your system cleaned and maintained before starting it up in the spring? If so, then the unit may be working too hard to compensate for decreased air flow caused by dirt and debris. If the air filter is clogged or the condenser coils are covered with dust, grime, or leaves, the unit has to work harder and run longer to cool the space. If the problem is bad enough, the unit may be running continuously. This can even cause the evaporator coil to freeze, which can not only use too much power and cause the circuit to trip, but can cause damaging water leaks. If your system has not been cleaned and tuned up in a while, this could be the result. Call in your air conditioning service company to take care of it right away.

Equipment Component Issues

If your maintenance is up to date, the unit itself may be malfunctioning. The most likely cause if a leak of the refrigerant that flows through the coils to cool your building. If there’s a leak and the refrigerant is low, the unit can’t cool as effectively and has to run longer. You could also have an issue with the fan motor; if the speed is reduced or it goes altogether, the coils can’t cool properly and the unit has to work harder. In the worst case, you could have a bad compressor, which is the heart of the system and a serious issue. You’ll need to call in an air conditioning service professional for a diagnosis.

Electrical Issues

The problem could also be a simple electrical issue within the air conditioner itself, such as a loose electrical connection, a bad capacitor, or a short in the equipment’s wiring. Even though this could be an easy fix, you should NEVER attempt to fix this yourself. Electricity is deadly if you don’t know what you’re doing! Call in your air conditioning service company.

3.Your air conditioner is suddenly consuming too much electricity

If you’ve noticed that your electric bill has gone up significantly and the air conditioner seems to be running constantly even though the weather’s not that hot, you probably have a maintenance issue. The unit runs more than it should because it’s having trouble cooling the space, probably due to one of the causes listed above: dirt and debris impeding air flow, a refrigerant leak, or even a problem with the fan motor. It’s time to have your system cleaned and inspected by the pros. Don’t wait until the system freezes, which can impact your business while you wait for repairs and can even cause disastrous water leaks.

If you’re having repeated issues with your air conditioner, you may be wondering if it’s time to replace the system or if you should buy some time by fixing it again. It’s a common problem, so grab our handy guide that can help you understand your options and make the right decision: Repair or Replace? A guide to making an informed choice when your air conditioner is down for the count.

Should you repair or replace that broken HVAC equipment? Download the complete guide.