Troubleshooting Guide: AC Compressor Not Turning On (2023)

Is your AC compressor refusing to kick into action when you need it the most? Fret not, as we've got you covered with a comprehensive guide on what to do when your AC compressor isn't turning on. A malfunctioning AC can be a headache, but armed with the right knowledge, you can troubleshoot and potentially resolve the issue yourself.

Fix the Thermostat

The thermostat plays a crucial role in signaling your AC to start cooling. Ensure it's in cool mode and set to the lowest temperature. If your compressor remains inactive, it's time to delve deeper into the troubleshooting process.

Check the Fuse or Circuit Breaker

A non-responsive AC might be a result of a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. These safety mechanisms are in place to prevent electrical fires caused by over-amperage. Investigate the cause behind the trip, which could range from a faulty capacitor to more serious issues.

Change the Air Filter

A dirty air filter can lead to low pressure, hindering the compressor's functionality. Regularly changing the air filter, ideally every 1-2 months, ensures proper heat absorption in the evaporator coil, preventing issues that could disable your compressor.

Clean the Condenser Coil

A dirty condenser coil can elevate head pressure in your AC, causing the high pressure switch to trip and the compressor to remain inactive. Cleaning the condenser coil can alleviate this issue and potentially resolve short cycling problems.

Change the Capacitor

A faulty capacitor can impede the creation of a rotating magnetic field necessary for the compressor to start and run. If your compressor isn't turning on, a bad capacitor could be the culprit. Consider replacing it to restore your AC's functionality.

Change the Contactor

While a rare cause, a bad contactor can disrupt the power supply to your compressor, preventing it from starting. Pitted contacts are a common issue, resulting from electrical arcing. If the contactor is the culprit, a relatively inexpensive replacement can get your compressor back on track.

Causes of an AC Compressor Not Turning On

Understanding the root causes is essential for effective troubleshooting. Here's a comprehensive list:

  • Dirty Condenser Coil: Causes high head pressure, tripping the high pressure switch.
  • Dirty Air Filter: Leads to airflow restriction, potentially freezing the evaporator coil.
  • Lack of Airflow: Closed vents, air leaks, or obstructions can impede airflow.
  • Bad Capacitor: Hinders the creation of a rotating magnetic field needed for compressor startup.
  • Bad Contactor: Disrupts the switching mechanism that starts the compressor.
  • Bad Electrical Power: Insufficient amps can prevent the compressor from starting.
  • Bad Thermostat: A malfunctioning thermostat can fail to engage the compressor.
  • Bad Compressor Windings: Shorted or burnt windings can disable the compressor.
  • Locked Up Compressor: Years of wear and tear may cause the compressor to lock up.
  • Low Pressure Trip: Low refrigerant pressure triggers the low pressure switch.
  • High Pressure Trip: Excessive head pressure causes the high pressure switch to trip.

Addressing these issues promptly can help restore your AC compressor's functionality and keep your home cool and comfortable. Remember, a well-maintained AC is key to avoiding disruptions in your cooling system.

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