This is not an easy question to answer and can be caused by a long list of possible problems. With the hot weather we face in Austin, Texas, you need to be able to count on your air conditioner. If your AC is not working, you can narrow the list of possibilities by answering a few short questions.
Is the breaker tripped? If you are comfortable around electricity and have a properly labeled breaker panel outside, you can check to see if the breaker is tripped. This is the outdoor breaker panel that serves 230v power to the outdoor AC unit and other appliances, not the breaker panel usually located inside the garage or laundry room that serves the 110v/120v power to the living space. If the breaker is tripped, reset it, and see if the unit powers back on. Be aware that most newer systems and thermostats have a 5-7 minute time delay from the time the unit is turned on until the system starts operating, so be patient.
If the unit does not restart or the breaker immediately trips again, then the problem is most likely a defective (shorted to ground) compressor, and this will require a professional to diagnose the problem and quote the AC repair and/or replacement.
If the unit does restart and continues to run, then it is likely the unit has tripped an overload or pressure switch. The system may continue to run (perhaps indefinitely), but we still recommend you have a qualified technician inspect the system at your earliest convenience to prevent recurring failures – or a possible major part failure – that could result from the underlying cause.
Is the outside AC unit not running but inside is? If the outdoor unit is not running, but the inside unit is blowing air, this could be caused by dirty or clogged air filters or coils, clogged condensate drains, low refrigerant or failure of one of several components in the outdoor unit. Learn more in our post, “Why is my AC not cooling?”
Is the outdoor unit running, but the indoor unit is not blowing air? This is commonly caused by either a defective blower motor or blower motor capacitor. A qualified technician can identify the problem and will likely have the parts stocked on their truck to make the necessary repairs at the time of diagnosis.
Is neither the indoor nor outdoor unit running? If neither unit is running, the list of possible problems gets very long. Generally, the thermostat will also have no display, which means the system has no power. This can be something as simple as a tripped float switch (water safety switch) caused by a clogged drain (learn more in our post, “Why is my AC not cooling?”).
As suggested above, you can check the breakers for both the outdoor and indoor unit if you 1) are comfortable doing so and 2) have a properly labeled panel. Reset the breakers, if necessary, and determine if the system restarts. As a reminder, there will probably be a 5-7 minute delay before the system comes back on once power is restored. However, the thermostat should display should come back on immediately. If the system does not restart, we recommend you call a qualified technician to inspect and diagnose why your air conditioner is not working. If it restarts and operates normally, everything could be fine, and the problem could have been caused by a power failure of some kind from external sources. If the problem happens a second time, though, we recommend having it diagnosed by a professional HVAC contractor.
If your AC is not working properly, you need someone to come out and fix it ASAP. Our technicians are professionally trained and honest. We’ll never try to sell you something you don’t need. For AC repair and replacement services in the greater Austin area, request an appointment or give us a call at 512-501-2275.