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Why Your AC Compressor Is Not Turning On and How to Fix It

An AC compressor not turning on isn’t just frustrating. Depending on the outside temperature, it could even be life-threatening. Once the heat index hits about 90 F, the risk of heat stroke and heat-related illnesses starts to rise drastically.  

By understanding the role of the AC compressor and common reasons why this problem happens, you can start troubleshooting your AC issues. However, it’s important to get emergency AC repair services for any ongoing problem so that your AC doesn’t sustain lasting damage. 

emergency AC repair services

Understanding the Role of the AC Compressor

Unfortunately, there are a number of reasons why you might have an air conditioner compressor not turning on. An AC compressor not working could be due to electrical issues, refrigerant leaks, or other kinds of mechanical failures. 

To see why this happens, it’s important to understand the role of an AC compressor in your air conditioner. It is in charge of compressing your AC refrigerant, so it’s the heart of how your AC works. 

Typically, the AC uses refrigerant to transfer heat from your home to the condenser. The compressor works as the go-between for your evaporator and condenser. 

Common Reasons Your AC Compressor Isn’t Turning On

The most common reasons why you might have an AC compressor not turning on are electrical issues, refrigerant leaks, dirty filters, and mechanical failures. 

Electrical Problems: In many cases, an AC compressor not kicking on is electrical in nature. The AC may be getting electricity, but the electricity isn’t getting to the compressor.

Refrigerant Leaks: Incorrect refrigerant levels can cause the compressor to not turn on. Because refrigerant is hazardous to deal with, you should always leave refrigerant issues to an HVAC technician. 

Mechanical Failures: Dirty condenser coils, capacitor failure, and other mechanical problems can also cause symptoms like an HVAC compressor not turning on. 

Dirty Filter: An evaporator coil is more likely to freeze if the air filter is dirty. When this happens, it triggers a switch to shut off the compressor.

Troubleshooting Steps for a Non-Working Compressor

If you notice an AC compressor not turning on, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can take to diagnose the problem. The following steps will help you rule out other possibilities. 

Check the Thermostat

You may notice the compressor not turning on AC if the thermostat isn’t reading the temperature right. If you have a handheld thermometer, you can see what the temperature is in each room. Then, check the thermostat to see if the temperatures match up.

Inspect the Power Supply 

A major reason for an air conditioner compressor not turning on is the power supply isn’t getting to the compressor. Check your fuse box to see if you have a blown fuse. You can also see if the fan and other parts of the AC are still running.

Examine the Capacitor

If the capacitor is weak, it may take your AC several seconds to kick on. When the capacitor has completely failed, it might not turn on at all. 

Look for Dirt and Debris 

Once the AC gets dirty, it can gum up the system and prevent it from working. You should regularly clean and change the AC filter according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Additionally, it’s important to have your AC serviced by a professional HVAC technician at least twice a year. 

Spot Loose or Disconnected Parts

If you can easily see inside your AC, look for loose and disconnected parts. Sometimes, parts can come loose over time and cause the AC to stop functioning. 

Find Clutch Issues

When there’s an AC clutch not engaging, your AC compressor might make squealing or whining noises. Clutch issues are often due to low refrigerant, dirty filters, or blown fuses. 

When to Call for Emergency AC Repair

Is your house or car AC compressor not working but the fan is running? If so, it’s important to call an HVAC technician for help. Some symptoms, like the fan still running, may mean there’s an electrical problem. You should never fix any electrical issue or refrigerant problem on your own because these issues can be hazardous to repair. 

After you troubleshoot the problem, it’s important to get emergency AC repair right away. An AC compressor not turning on can lead to other problems if your AC isn’t repaired promptly. Fast repairs can save you money on AC repair in the long run. 

Preventative Maintenance Tips

To prevent an air conditioner compressor not turning on and other problems, there are a few things you can do. 

  • Schedule routine maintenance at least twice a year. An HVAC technician can inspect and clean your AC. 
  • Call for help as soon as you find problems. Faulty parts cause your AC to work harder, which can cause other parts to break. 
  • Clean or replace your filter regularly. The manufacturer’s guide will tell you how frequently you need to clean or replace the filter. 
  • Remove debris. Keep plant matter and other debris away from your AC. 

Diagnose AC Compressor Issues 

Through emergency AC repair, you can get help diagnosing and fixing your AC compressor not turning on. While some of the causes are fairly straightforward to fix, electrical and refrigerant problems can be dangerous for you to repair on your own. With the help of an HVAC company, you can get routine maintenance services, inspections, and repairs. 

*This is a collaborative post. All views and texts are my own. 

Jocelyn Brown

A former school teacher, Jocelyn Brown created Hip Mama’s Place in 2007. Her motto for this blog is: get inspired, create and share! Jocelyn loves sharing about food and recipes, crafts, DIY projects and her random travels with her family. She also loves all things social media, but her latest obsession is Instagram.

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