Reasons Your AC Stopped Working Over Winter
We’re not ready for the AC season yet, but it’s just around the corner. Sometimes older ACs don’t work as expected when they haven’t operated in a while, such as after the winter. We’ll explore eight possible reasons and how you can prepare your air conditioner for the spring and summer seasons.
8 Reasons Your AC Doesn’t Work After Winter
1. Tripped breaker or blown fuse
Generally, the AC circuit breaker or fuse shouldn’t have an issue after months of inactivity. But from time to time, they can and will. Check the fuse box for the AC system, and if the fuse is blown, look inside the breaker box for the corresponding AC circuit for a tripped circuit breaker. It’s a sign the AC is overloading the circuit and causing an electrical fault. You want to have a licensed HVAC professional inspect it, They’ll have the tools and knowledge to troubleshoot and repair the issue.
2. Emergency Shut-off Switch
Most AC systems have an emergency shut-off switch near the outside condenser unit. If you’ve had a system tune-up recently or were doing yard work near the condenser, there’s a chance the switch was moved to off.
There may also be an indoor power switch for the system near the air handler — make sure it’s turned on.
3. Weather Damage (from wind and rain)
Winter winds can blow dirt, sand, small sticks, and other yard debris into an uncovered condenser unit. The accumulation may be enough to jam the fan blades, cover sensors, clog up the coils, or otherwise trip shut-off features built into the system.
If you suspect this has happened, use a brush or broom to wipe down the condenser’s sides and top gently. Look down into the blades from the top and remove, if possible, any visible debris.
4. Capacitor Failure
The two capacitors power the motor for operation in the outdoor AC unit. The start capacitor gives the motor enough voltage to start running. In contrast, the run capacitor provides the necessary energy to run during the cooling cycle. These parts eventually wear out and fail, but they are also sensitive to high temperatures and fail after overheating.
5. Clogged Condensate Drain Line
Because the AC removes heat and humidity from the air and moves the subsequent condensed moisture out through a drain line, the line can clog without appropriate maintenance. Mold, mildew, sludge, and other naturally forming clogs block the moisture flow, forcing it back into the drain pan. If one or both fill, most ACs have automatic shut-off features that trip rather than allow the moisture into the rest of the system.
6. Reset Button
Although not every AC system has a reset button, if yours does, it’ll be near the outside condenser unit. Press the button and wait for the system to restart. You can also reset the air conditioner by turning it off at the thermostat, waiting five minutes, then turning the system on again.
7. Clogged Air Filter
Most air conditioners shut down without adequate airflow to the condenser. If your air conditioner shares an air filter with a furnace, there’s a chance it will get clogged up over the winter, especially if you forgot to change it. Change out the filter with a new one, and call an HVAC technician if the system still doesn’t turn on.
8. Malfunctioning Thermostat
It sounds unbelievably simple, but double-check that the thermostat is in the cool setting. Test it by adjusting the temperature to a few degrees cooler than the current reading. If the air conditioner doesn’t start, check the thermostat batteries. Again, simple, but weak batteries may not provide enough power for the thermostat to talk with the air conditioner.
Prepare AC for Spring
Clean debris around the condenser
The rule of thumb is always to keep at least two feet clear around the outside condenser unit. It operates at peak efficiency with adequate airflow around all sides for ventilation and regulation.
Change the air filter
Although we already said to change the air filter, we’ll repeat it — change the air filter at least once every three months. Or sooner if you live in a dusty environment. Many people set calendar reminders on their smartphones to help keep up with this two-minute task.
Schedule a tune-up
Even if your air conditioner didn’t stop working over the winter months, it’s a good idea to schedule a tune-up before high temperatures call it into action. An HVAC technician gives the indoor and outdoor parts a thorough lookover, notes issues and provides timely repairs so you and your household can enjoy a cool indoor respite for the months to come.
An AC system that stopped working during the winter may seem like a serious situation. But, several reasons are straightforward with simple solutions, and others require the help of a trained HVAC professional.
If your air conditioner won’t turn on this spring, contact ProSkill Services for professional and reliable HVAC service.