Air Conditioner Not Working? A Quick Troubleshooting Guide

Air Conditioner Not Working? A Quick Troubleshooting Guide

Whether it’s August or November, when your air conditioner is not working, there goes your comfort. You’re going to want to have it fixed ASAP and reach out for your phone – but wait just a minute before you make the call. It may be something you can actually do yourself – so here’s a simple AC troubleshooting guide to help you work it all out.

Why Is Your Air Conditioner Not Working?

There are just a few reasons why your HVAC is not working, and they fall generally under one of these categories:

  • Electrical malfunction. Your HVAC not working could be a small issue, like a tripped breaker, or a bigger problem, like a short somewhere in the system. You can fix the small one, but don’t try to fix the short yourself.
  • Mechanical problem. Quite often, the reason for your air conditioner not working could be that, not to put too fine a point on it, something is dirty: a filter, an air vent, the compressor etc.
  • Human error. We all make mistakes. You know how you sometimes get all stressed out over your desk monitor not working before remembering your kid unplugged it last night? Just like that, you may worry about your air conditioner not working properly when, in fact, you forgot to switch from cool to heat when the fall season settled in.

That being said, here’s a quick air conditioner troubleshooting guide before calling your HVAC specialist.

AC Troubleshooting Tips

Whether your air conditioner is not cooling one specific room or the entire house, an AC unit is leaking, your HVAC system seems to be pumping up your electric bill or there are funny whirring or screeching noises in the system, the problem might be relatively simple to fix. Try one of the following air conditioner troubleshooting tips before calling in your local expert.

  • Check for dirty air filters and coils. It’s as simple as it sounds; no need to pay someone else to do it! In fact, you should make sure your fall revision includes changing filters and checking for any potential problems. If you haven’t scheduled your AC maintenance call and your air conditioner is not working properly, use the expert’s visit to fix the smaller issues alongside bigger ones. Don’t put it off any longer – Christmas is around the corner.
  • Check the settings. We can’t stress that enough! Is your thermostat set to cooling or heating? Are your disconnect switches on? Make sure your call to the local HVAC specialist isn’t followed by a facepalm moment.
  • Check the blower belts. You can hear the motor running, so why is the air conditioner not working? The blower belts may be at fault. Just checking the air handler cabinet should tell you if that’s the problem. Depending on how much of a DIY expert you are, you could try changing the blower belt yourself. Or not.
  • Check all switches. In fact, speaking of switches, make sure there isn’t a tripped float switch (because of water accumulating in the drain pan) or pressure switch (because of low refrigerant levels) that’s causing your unit to be temporarily disabled. Once you spot the reason why your air conditioner’s not working, though, you may want to call a specialist to deal with it.
  • Clean your outdoor unit. It’s November, which, even in Florida, means leaves are falling. If you’ve got trees anywhere near an outdoor unit, make sure you sweep them off and use a handheld vacuum cleaner and/or hose on a regular basis to keep the unit running smoothly. Bugs, leaves, dirt can clog it up.
  • Check your contactors and capacitors. Dead leaves are not the only thing that could go wrong with your outdoor unit. A much more serious problem is a bad contactor or capacitor. As a general principle, the contactor dies a silent death; the capacitor hums. If your AC troubleshooting localizes the problem to one of these tiny components that flip the AC on, you will have to contact your local HVAC pro.
  • Check for tripped breakers. This may be very easy – or quite serious. The AC circuit breaker might be tripped, in which case you just push back to “on”. If everything runs smoothly, you were lucky. If, however, your unit starts running, then stops again, it means your home brand of AC troubleshooting won’t be enough. Don’t try anything else – call an expert.
  • Keep warm appliances away from the thermostat. You may be worried that your air conditioner is not working because you’re just running too high an electric bill. Check that your fridge, freezer, TV set, lamps etc. are not in the immediate neighborhood of the thermostat or unit. The heat these appliances give out will cause the air conditioning system to work overtime.

And If None of the Above Works…

Don’t improvise. Your personal AC troubleshooting attempt may end up doing more harm than good. Call Air Hawk at (813) 929-4295 for same-day affordable, friendly and highly qualified AC repair services!


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