What to do When AC Stops Working?

As an HVAC enthusiast, I appreciate how essential air conditioning can be, especially during those hot summer months.

So, when your air conditioner (AC) stops working, it can cause a significant disruption.

Understanding the potential reasons for a malfunction is the first step to getting your cool air back.

Understanding the Problem

When your air conditioner falters, don’t panic. Most problems stem from common issues such as a dirty air filter or a refrigerant leak.

Initial troubleshooting can help you identify if the issue is something you can handle or if it’s time to call an HVAC professional.

Basic Troubleshooting Steps

Begin by checking the thermostat setting. Make sure it’s set to ‘cool’ and the temperature is below your current room temperature.

Next, inspect the power supply. Verify if your circuit breaker has tripped or if any blown fuses are associated with your air conditioning unit.

Examine the air filters. Dirty filters obstruct air flow, forcing the unit to work harder and potentially leading to more serious issues like frozen evaporator coils.

Don’t forget the outdoor unit; ensure it’s clean and free of debris.

Lastly, check for visible signs of refrigerant leaks. If you spot a leak, it’s best to involve a professional due to the specialized nature of the repair.

When to Call a Professional

Remember, not all AC issues can be solved with a DIY approach. Complex problems like a refrigerant leak, electrical issue, or complications with the condenser coil need a trained eye.

Dealing with these issues personally can pose risks, and potentially exacerbate the problem.

How to Choose a Reliable HVAC Professional

Selecting the right HVAC professional is key. Look for certified and experienced professionals who are well-versed in handling common air conditioner problems.

Check their reviews and ratings online, and ensure they have a valid license and insurance for peace of mind.

Preventive Maintenance for Air Conditioners

Preventive maintenance is a critical part of keeping your AC unit running smoothly. Regular maintenance includes tasks such as cleaning dirty filters and ensuring refrigerant levels are sufficient.

Professional maintenance services are also beneficial as they can identify and rectify issues before they escalate, which could save you a hefty energy bill.

Detailed Breakdown of Common Issues

Circuit Breaker Issues

Your central air conditioning unit requires a large amount of electricity to function. Occasionally, this demand can trip the circuit breaker, especially if other appliances are competing for power. If your AC stops working, one of the first things to do is check your electrical panel. A tripped breaker is an easy fix – simply flip it back to the ‘on’ position. However, if it keeps tripping, this could indicate a more serious electrical issue and it’s best to involve a professional.

Dirty Air Filters

Air filters play a crucial role in maintaining the efficiency and longevity of your AC unit. They protect the equipment from dust and debris, and help maintain healthy air quality in your home.

However, over time, they can become clogged with dust and other particles, restricting air flow and causing the unit to work harder.

This not only increases energy bills but can also lead to other issues such as frozen evaporator coils or overheating. Regularly checking and replacing air filters can prevent such problems.

Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant is the substance that your AC uses to remove heat and humidity from the air. If your AC is low on refrigerant, it’s likely due to a leak.

This could result in the AC not cooling effectively, increased energy consumption and potential damage to the unit.

It’s essential to call an HVAC professional if you suspect a refrigerant leak as they have the tools and knowledge to safely repair the issue.

Thermostat Settings

A wrongly set thermostat can cause your air conditioning to stop working. Ensure that your thermostat is set to ‘cool’ and that the temperature setting is lower than the current room temperature.

If you have a programmable thermostat, confirm that the schedules are set correctly. A smart thermostat can offer even more control, allowing you to adjust the settings remotely and optimizing energy usage based on your daily routines.

Lack of Regular Maintenance

Like any mechanical equipment, your AC needs regular maintenance to perform at its best. This includes cleaning or replacing filters, checking refrigerant levels, cleaning the condensate drain, and ensuring the fan and coils are clean.

Regular maintenance can also catch potential issues early, saving you from expensive repairs or replacement in the future.

Time for an Upgrade?

If your air conditioner is older and experiencing frequent issues, it might be more cost-effective to replace it with a new, energy-efficient model.

Today’s air conditioners are more efficient, reliable, and come with advanced features like smart thermostats and variable-speed fans. When considering a new unit, look for models with a high Energy Star rating for maximum energy savings.

Being Prepared for Summer Heat

The last thing you want during the sweltering summer months is an AC that’s not up to the task.

It’s recommended to service your air conditioner before the start of the cooling season to ensure it’s ready to handle the heat. A well-maintained AC unit will provide reliable cooling, lower energy bills, and a comfortable indoor environment.


In conclusion, understanding basic AC troubleshooting can be immensely helpful. However, never hesitate to contact an HVAC professional for complex issues.

Remember, regular maintenance is the best way to ensure your AC unit keeps the summer heat at bay, and provides you with a comfortable indoor temperature.

About Roy Cohen

Roy Cohen has a burning passion for heating, cooling, and ventilation. He aims to help you save money on expensive repairs and bring you the best HVAC products. He has years of experience behind him in HVAC repair and garage maintenance.

You can find Roy at his LinkedIn or his email: [email protected]

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