Air conditioner is not turning on: DIY tips and tricks to get it running

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. At no cost to you, I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

If you have ever re-installed a window-unit air conditioner or turned on your central unit for the first time this season only to have it not start, you understand the frustration with needing cool air only to be faced with a rather complicated home appliance with which many people have very little experience. The fortunate thing about air conditioners is that they have very few parts, and if yours is not working, it is likely due to an electrical problem of some kind or too much water. Of course, being an air conditioner, the problem sometimes involves not getting enough air. Don't you want to read the full article? Discover your solutions at

1. Settings

Although a problem with your air conditioning will cause a momentary spike of anxiety, the problem is often something simple, having to do with the settings on the thermostat, for instance. Before panic sets in, simply check the settings and ensure the unit is set to a temperature that is lower than the room's ambient temperature. If it is not, adjust the temperature, and the unit should kick on.

2. Breaker

Because an air conditioner requires 1,500 watts of power or more, it can occasionally throw a breaker. When this happens, it is not the same thing as accidentally plugging in too many electrical components into plugins. Although both of these situations result in a thrown breaker, the cause is much more serious. For instance, air conditioners are installed on dedicated lines, which means the breaker, by itself, can handle the unit, and there are no other accessories that can access this line. Therefore, when the breaker throws, it is due to electrical problems within your air conditioner.

The first solution for this problem is to reset the breaker. However, if it throws again, the problem is likely due to an electrical overload from worn wires. For instance, worn wires can lead to too much electricity pumping through the system. Too much electricity, of course, throws the breaker. If you have a home with a fuse box, you will need to replace the fuse. If a continuously thrown breaker is the problem or if you have to keep buying fuses, you will need to call a specialist to help locate and fix the source of the electrical overload.

3. Reset

Like many appliances with onboard computers, many air conditioners have a reset button. Air conditioners might need to be reset due to a power outage, an electrical surge, or a breaker problem. To reset your air conditioner, you will need your user's manual to locate the button. Once you find it, you will need to unplug the air conditioner and hold the button for 15 to 20 seconds. With the air conditioner reset, you can then plug it back in.

You can also perform a manual reset by turning off the dedicated circuit in your circuit breaker. With the circuit breaker off, you should wait 15 to 20 seconds and turn the breaker back on. At this point, your air conditioning should resume. However, if problems should again arise, the electrical draw causing the need for reset is likely internal, and it is time to call a technician.

4. Drain lines

Air conditioning relies on air flowing over lines cooled by the refrigerant. Although much of the air is blown out into the room, some of it condenses into water and gathers on the lines. The air conditioner is built to allow the condensate to drain out the drain pain. However, if the drain pan becomes clogged, water can pool in the bottom. If the water rises too high, it can trigger a float switch, which is connected to a plastic bubble in the pan. The bubble floats on the rising water levels, and if the water levels become too high, the float switch engages. Then you suddenly have no more air conditioning.

Problems that have to do with too much water are much easier and safer to fix on your own than electricity-related problems. First, you should drain the pan. Second, you should clean out any debris from around the drain hole. Sometimes, it is best to install a drain kit. A drain kit is simply a hose that attaches to the drain hole. The hose guides the water away from the unit. More importantly, it also protects the drain hole from debris getting stuck in it. If you place the end of the drain hose in a non-obstructed location, all you have to do is inspect it and wipe it clean occasionally to prevent clogs from re-occurring.

5. Air filters

Like the drain hole, your air filters can become clogged by debris. If this happens, the motor has to work harder. Because a dirty air filter will cause long-term problems for your unit, some air conditioners are built to not turn on if the airflow is obstructed. Fortunately, this problem involves one of the easiest solutions. All you have to do is check the filter to see if it is clean. If it is caked with dirt and dust, you can vacuum it for a temporary fix. If you want a more permanent fix, you should replace it with a new filter.

6. Testing the connection

If none of the aforementioned solutions work, the final DIY solution is to ensure the unit is getting power. Sometimes, animals can get inside the roof or walls of your house and chew on wires. Similarly, if you have experienced a recent storm, wires might have been damaged, causing an interruption between your breaker box and your air conditioner.

To assess the problem, you should use a voltage tester to determine if there is an electrical draw on the wires running into your unit. A voltage tester has two leads. One is black, and the other is red. Once the leads are connected to the circuit, a light will turn on, or the tester's control panel will show you how much power is running through the line.

If you do not get a reading or if the tester's light does not show a connection, the problem is not with the air conditioner. In this instance, some sort of demolition work will be required to get behind the walls and find and fix the broken line. Of course, if the problem is replacing a plug-in, you might be able to do this on your own. However, for serious electrical problems, you might need to call an electrician to help you identify the exact source of the problem and fix it safely.

Krystal Morrison

I create this blog to share my daily tips about home improvement, children, pets, food, health, and ways to be frugal while maintaining a natural lifestyle. Interested to be a Guest Blogger on my website? Please email me at: [email protected]

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 0 comments