Air Conditioner Stops

3 Things to Do if Your Air Conditioner Stops Working

Ian Mutuli
Updated on
Ian Mutuli

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.
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Using an air conditioner can be an excellent way to ensure better air quality in your home and improve the overall comfort of everyone inside. However, there are times when even the most advanced technology fails, seemingly for no reason.

Still, the reason is almost always there, and you just need to find it. If your air conditioner stops working unexpectedly, there are a few things you can do before calling a professional. For instance, issues with the thermostat or a clogged air filter can suddenly cause the AC to shut down. You also may need to replace some parts of your unit and inspect duct connections. 

Don’t worry if you’ve never done any of these things before. Below, you’ll find more detailed information about the steps you should take if your air conditioner refuses to work.

1. Clean it Properly

If you haven’t cleaned your AC in a while, it may be about time to give it a good clean. Excess dust and damaged or clogged air filters can not only put a strain on your air conditioner and eventually cause it to break but also force it to consume more energy in order to work at all. 

Take a good look at the outside unit and assess its condition. You can carefully clean the fan blades using a toothbrush or a sponge and soapy water. Be gentle to avoid breaking or bending the blades. Then, remove debris inside or near the unit. To clean the condenser fins, use a spray bottle with water and a dedicated coil cleaner product. Spray the fins and let the mixture sit to loosen up the dirt. Next, you can rinse them using a garden hose.

Your AC unit should also drain regularly. The exact numbers can vary depending on the season and humidity, but if, during the cleaning process, you notice that the water is not draining, you may need to intervene. Skilled heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians usually use an HVAC vacuum pump to remove extra air and water vapor from the system. This professional equipment can be costly, but if you’re experienced enough to do it yourself, there is always a rental option.

2. Examine Your Thermostat

The thermostat is one of the first things you should check when having trouble with the AC. This small device can cause many issues when programmed to the wrong setting. Someone might have touched it when you weren’t at home, or you may have set the program to cooling in the middle of the winter instead of heating. 

That’s why ensuring that your thermostat is always programmed correctly is essential. Luckily, most modern smart thermostats come with the “child lock” option, which you can turn on to prevent kids or other family members from messing with your settings. It also may be a good idea to get in the habit of checking your thermostat regularly, for instance, before you leave for work. 

If the settings on your thermostat are correct, but you’re still experiencing problems with the AC, try replacing the batteries. Sometimes, the low battery charge may cause the thermostat to “act up” and be the reason why it can’t accurately read the temperature in your living space. Avoid buying cheap, generic batteries which won’t last you long or may not even work properly from the start. 

3. Replace Broken Parts

There are many different components in each HVAC system, which creates a lot of opportunities for something to break and stop working. This can be incredibly frustrating to homeowners who just want to enjoy living in a comfortable space that’s heated or cooled down to an optimal temperature. Still, there are some AC parts that tend to break more often than others.

Capacitor

All of the main components of the AC units are powered by capacitors, which store and distribute electricity to them. If something is wrong with the capacitor, your AC simply won’t turn on. It’s a component that most probably won’t last as long as your whole unit, and you’ll need to replace it at some point.

Evaporator Coil

While you can clean evaporator coils to extend their lifespan and ensure they’ll keep working, corrosion is one of their biggest enemies. Even the tiniest hole in the coils can release refrigerant in the air and make it unusable. In such a case, replacement is the easiest and least nerve-wracking option, as long as your budget allows it. 

Contactor

Last but not least, contactors, which are responsible for controlling the flow of electricity into the unit, can also be the reason behind a non-working AC. They receive signals from the thermostat and adjust the electrical flow into the system. 

Even though a good contactor should last you about ten years, it can experience a lot of wear and tear, especially during a particularly hot season. This may cause it to break sooner than expected, and you’ll have no other choice but to replace it. 

In Conclusion

As you can see, while air conditioners are undoubtedly brilliant devices that allow us to keep our homes more comfortable regardless of the weather outside, they can also cause some issues. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to learn about some of the most common and reliable ways to fix an AC unit that suddenly stopped working.

Try to stay on top of the maintenance work to keep it in good shape. Clean your outside unit properly and ensure there’s no debris inside or around it. You should also keep a close eye on the thermostat to ensure it’s not running low on batteries or that someone didn’t change the settings while you were away. Some parts of AC units also tend to break more frequently than others, but luckily, you should have no issues finding replacements.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.