If your air conditioner won’t turn on at all, high chances are that there is a problem with its AC compressor. The good news, AC compressors can be repaired to get your AC back on. However, before you jump to repair or replace the AC compressor, you need to run a few troubleshooting checks to verify that the problem lies in the AC compressor. Problems with your AC compressor not turning on might need HVAC techs to handle though there are simple tips that can help you take care of the problem. Before you run the troubleshooting checks below when your air conditioner compressor is not working, first understand what the AC compressor does.
AC Compressor Not Turning On: What Does it Do?
The compressor is a critical component of your HVAC system. In residential AC systems, the compressor is part of the outdoor components. As evident in its name, the compressor compresses the refrigerant that carries heat away from your house.
During compression, the temperature of the refrigerant increases converting the refrigerant from its gaseous state to liquid state. Increasing the temperature of the refrigerant might not make sense when what you need is to cool the house. However, for the refrigerant to be efficient, its temperature needs to be a little higher than that of the outdoor environment. This applies a simple rule of physics – heat is always transferred from a warm to a cool area. If the compressor is not working as it should, the refrigerant is not warmed and heat transfer will not be efficient.
What to do When Your AC Compressor is Not Turning On
When the AC compressor won’t run, your home will remain hot seeing that the refrigerant will not remove heat outdoors. In such a case, an HVAC technician will try the following troubleshooting techniques:
Check the Fuse When Your Air Conditioner Compressor is Not Working
With the central air conditioner compressor not working, your whole house will be uncomfortably hot. The first thing to do is to ensure that the compressor is receiving power. In some instances, window air conditioner compressor not working might be caused by a blown fuse or a breaker that has tripped.
While this problem is not common, frequent stops and starts can adversely affect the HVAC system as a whole. In a functioning compressor, sudden stops might result from a blown fuse.
An electrical technician can tell you if the fuse or breaker is okay. If the fuse is okay, you need an HVAC tech to troubleshoot the whole system. The only exception is in instances where you have a multimeter and you know how to use it. This way, you can test if the right voltage is flowing into the AC compressor. Even if you know how to use a multimeter, you still need a professional to take it from there.
Have Capacitors Replaced When Your AC Compressor Won't Turn On
With the air conditioner compressor not working, in most cases you will need to check the electrical connections. The capacitors provide power to your compressor – when they are down, the AC compressor won’t turn on. Capacitors are cheap and easy to replace. With basic electrical knowledge, you can easily replace the parts. Most technicians will check the capacitors first before checking other components of your HVAC system. If your HVAC system is more than five years, you might need to replace all capacitors and start relays.
Capacitors act as short term power supply units for your compressor, outside fan, and blower motor. The start relays will then transfer power from your capacitors to the compressor. With the central air conditioner compressor not working, any humming sound from the compressor is an indication that the capacitor is not functional. Start by switching off your HVAC system immediately seeing as this can overheat the compressor escalating the damage.
Simple capacitor problems can exacerbate if left unattended forcing you to replace the compressor motor. You can change a capacitor with basic electrical skills but a compressor should only be replaced by a professional. Replacing the entire compressor unit is not only time consuming but also expensive.
Have the Start Relays Replaced
Another cause of air conditioner compressor not working is a faulty start relay. In most cases, the technician will try replacing an old start relay with a new one – this is a foolproof way of testing whether a start relay is working or not. If the AC compressor starts running after a new start relay, then the problem will be resolved.
Check Terminal Connections
When terminal connections are loose, the AC compressor won’t run. Compressors that stop sporadically might have problems as simple as this. In most cases, the terminal connections might be dirty – all they need is thorough cleaning to get them up and running. You do not need a professional to check and clean terminal connections with the AC compressor not turning on.