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Why is My Air Conditioner Not Working

Get QuickAir
22 Oct 2019
5 Min Read

There’s a bunch of easy things you can check and do yourself to try and get your air conditioner working again. Calling the experts only needs to be done once you have followed these 10 simple troubleshooting tips. You don’t need to try and fix it, in some cases we strongly recommend you don’t (particularly the electrical stuff) and if you’re concerned, at anytime contact us and we’ll help you over the phone. Right let’s get started, in some sort of order, the 10 most common reasons your air conditioner isn’t working:

1. The indoor disconnect switch is off

You can find a disconnect switch next to the indoor air conditioning unit. Check to see if it’s on! It can be easily switched off – someone simply bumping it by accident, particularly if it’s in a tight spot like a roof cavity, loft or garage. Check to see that the indoor disconnect switch is turned on. We’ve put this as troubleshooting tip number one because it’s a pretty common one. Not all Australian air conditioners have an indoor disconnect switch, but on the outdoor unit, they definitely do, mostly for safety reasons. Check the next troubleshooting tip…

2. The outdoor disconnect switch is off

Yep, once again this could have been switched off for a range of reasons… the kids or dog! Whatever the reason check to see if this switch is on. It can be found located next to the outdoor unit, mounted on an adjacent wall. This is the most common location for the outdoor disconnect switch, but if it’s not obviously next to the outdoor unit then check the fuse box or switchboard. Hopefully, when the licensed sparky installed the cable and switch, it was clearly labelled. Check it’s on.

3. The circuit breaker is tripped

Check your switchboard to see if any of the circuit breakers are tripped. Make sure they are all in the on position. Hopefully, the circuit breakers are clearly labelled so you can identify the circuit breaker for the air conditioning unit. This will help to pinpoint the problem. If it’s tripped, turn it on and start the unit again. If it trips again, it could be that the circuit is occupied by other appliances; meaning the circuit is overloaded. Look for other devices/appliances on this circuit and switch them off and try again. As they say “if the problem persists” call a doctor…well and air conditioner repair expert. You may well have diagnosed the root cause and isolated the problem, but it needs a licensed tech to pop out and make an assessment and possible repair.

4. Your thermostat batteries are dead

Well, it’s probably the simplest and easiest thing to check – if the thermostat isn’t displaying anything, the batteries are probably dead and need replacing. We’re going to sound patronizing now! Change the batteries in the thermostat and see if this fixes the problem. We mention it here after we’ve got you to check you have power to the units themselves, but in fact, it’s something to check more frequently and we’d suggest you replace the batteries once a year when you do your smoke alarms. We will do this for you if we perform an annual air conditioner service, but of course, you can do it yourself for the cost of a couple of AAA batteries. Finally, check that the thermostat is on the setting you want (snowflake for cool and sun for warm).

5. A fuse is blown

This is not something we recommend you to fix yourself unless your a licensed electrician. Call an expert to make sure it’s done safely. If you have fuses, you’ve got a really old switchboard. Modern switchboards have circuit breakers not fuses and are far safer; that’s why we recommend you get the experts in.

6. The distribution transformer is blown

Same as above, different problem, but not something to attempt yourself. It will need replacing by a licensed technician. Often this problem occurs in conjunction with the outdoor contactors or a short in the wiring. As with all these problems – on an electrical circuit – they become a bit symptomatic and this is why we recommend you don’t unless you are an expert, try and fix it yourself.

Yep, so the units are fairly basic, but there are two capacitors – things that look like batteries and store power – and eventually, they drain out and need replacing. Most air conditioners have at least two capacitors they depend upon. These are in the outdoor unit and they’re there to start (capacitor one) and run (capacitor two) the air conditioner. Like batteries, they hold power and allow it to start and keep running, but they have a shelf life and need replacing every few years. I’m afraid this is not a straightforward fix and you’ll need some help here from a professional air conditioner repair technician.

8. Damage

This one can be hard to diagnose unless it’s obvious. Too many things can cause damage to mention here. Severe weather events, the kids smashing the unit with a ball or toy, the gardener jamming a spade into the gas lines… who knows and it doesn’t matter because accidents happen and the unit will simply be damaged as a result and needs a repair.

9. The coils in the units are dirty

You’ve actually got two air conditioning coils, one in your outdoor unit and one in your indoor unit. What tends to happen when these are dirty is that even with your thermostat is set to cool, the air coming out of your vents won’t be cool. We’ve written other articles on this alone, but the obvious answer is to get them cleaned. It’s actually something that needs attention regularly as it affects the performance of the air conditioning unit and is something that should be done as part of a regular air conditioner service. It can get to the point where the circulating air is simply going around and around not cooling at all no matter what you do with the thermostat. It’s a harder one to pinpoint, but not so hard to fix.

10. Change the dirty filters

Over time, and pretty quickly in some cases, the filters get clogged with dust and dirt. If you have the manufacturer’s instructions, still, they’ll make recommendations on how to and how frequently you should clean the filters. In the cases, they need changing, but if you clean them regularly enough they should last many years. They are reasonably delicate, so we recommend that you take care when washing them as they can break fairly easily. Quite simply, if left too long, they get so clogged up and restrict airflow compromising the optimal performance of your heating and cooling unit.

The best solution to all these problems is to have regular preventative maintenance and service of your air conditioning unit. Jump to our section or blog on preventative maintenance and its benefits, namely the better, and longer performance of your air conditioning unit and ultimately the cost savings that accrue over time. Looking after your expensive air conditioners should be considered in the same way as a regular car or pool servicing. Don’t worry!! Just give us a call and QuickAir’s expert technicians can provide you with the same day service if the above troubleshooting tips have not sorted the problem. Call us on 1300 730 896

Is it time to replace your air conditioner?

In general, an air conditioning unit lasts around nine to ten years. You can stretch this out if you have had regular servicing and the unit remains in good condition as a result of the use has been less frequent than normal.

At QuickAir, we’re not in the business of simply swapping out a hard problem and we’ll do our very best to repair your air conditioner. But if it’s old, the problems are becoming symptomatic and parts are hard and/or expensive to come by, it’s time to consider a replacement. The upshot is that modern units are far more efficient than older ones. If the time has come to consider this, QuickAir experts are ready to help.