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Table of Contents

Decoding the Mechanics of Your Air Conditioner

Steps to Take When Your AC Won't Kick On

Typical Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Won't Kick On

The Significance of Regular HVAC Maintenance

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Call (213) 596-2538
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What's Preventing Your Air Conditioner from Kicking On?

7 min readUpdated Mar. 21, 2024Lyle WeischwillHVAC
What's preventing your air conditioner from kicking on

When your air conditioner refuses to start, it can turn those scorching summer months into a real ordeal. Being aware of why your AC unit might not be kicking on can help you fix the problem swiftly. In this article, we'll delve into the usual culprits that could be causing your air conditioner to stay off and provide some steps for troubleshooting and getting your unit back to its cool running state.


  • Knowing how your air conditioner works can help you understand what’s wrong when it won’t kick on.
  • Learn about the common problems that can prevent your air conditioner working in this article.
  • When you’re unable to find and solve the problem yourself, count on Sears Home Services to repair your AC unit and restore cooling in your home.

Decoding the Mechanics of Your Air Conditioner

An air conditioner is a complex system designed to keep your home cool and comfortable. Understanding its operation can help you spot problems and ensure it's well-maintained. Here's a brief rundown of the key components and functions of an air conditioner:

  1. Compressor: Often referred to as the heart of the air conditioner, the compressor pumps a special fluid, known as the refrigerant, through the system to move heat from inside your home to the outside.
  2. Evaporator Coil: This coil is positioned inside your home. It is surrounded by metal fins. Liquid refrigerant flows through the evaporator coil and absorbs heat from air blowing across the evaporator fins.
  3. Condenser Coil: Found outside your home, the condenser coil receives the hot refrigerant vapor from the compressor. It cools down the hot refrigerant gas so the gas condenses to a liquid.
  4. Expansion Valve: This valve manages the flow of refrigerant into the evaporator coil, regulating the temperature and pressure of the refrigerant.
  5. Blower: The blower inside the home blows air through the evaporator and into your home to cool inside air.

Now that you understand how your air conditioner works, let's discuss the basic principles of cooling. Air conditioners operate by removing heat from indoor air and transferring it outside. They achieve this by circulating refrigerant between the indoor and outdoor units, absorbing heat from the indoor air, and releasing it outdoors. This process continues until the desired temperature is achieved.

Regular maintenance is vital to keep your air conditioner operating smoothly. It helps prevent problems that can result in your unit refusing to kick on. Regular tasks such as cleaning or replacing air filters, checking and cleaning the condenser coil, and inspecting the refrigerant levels should be performed to maintain your unit.

By understanding your air conditioner's operation and performing regular maintenance, you can ensure its optimal performance and prevent issues that may stop it from kicking on.

Steps to Take When Your AC Won't Kick On

If your air conditioner isn't kicking on, there are some troubleshooting steps you can follow to identify and potentially solve the issue. Here are some typical causes and solutions to get your AC back up and running.

  1. Inspect the circuit breaker and reset if needed: A tripped breaker might be the reason your air conditioner isn't turning on. Check the breaker panel and look for any switches in the 'off' position. If you find one, flip it back to the 'on' position. This simple step might solve the problem.
  2. Make sure the AC disconnect switch is on: If your AC disconnect switch is turned off, your AC won't kick on. This switch is usually found near the outdoor unit and is used to cut off power to the AC system for maintenance or safety. Ensure the switch is in the 'on' position.
  3. Check the thermostat settings and replace batteries if necessary: Ensure your thermostat settings are correctly set for cooling. If the thermostat is set too high or in the 'off' position, your AC won't turn on. Also, if your thermostat uses batteries, replace them if they are low or dead. Sometimes, a simple battery replacement can resolve the issue.

Keep in mind, if these troubleshooting steps don't solve the problem and your AC still won't turn on, it's best to reach out to a professional HVAC technician. They have the knowledge to diagnose and fix complicated issues in your air conditioning system.

Typical Reasons Why Your Air Conditioner Won't Kick On

When your air conditioner won't turn on, it can be quite frustrating, particularly during hot summer months. There are several common reasons for this issue, and understanding them can help you troubleshoot the problem before seeking professional help.

A blown fuse could be a possible cause for your air conditioner not turning on. The fuse safeguards the electrical circuit of your AC unit and can blow due to power surges or overloading. To replace a blown fuse, locate the fuse box, typically found near the outdoor unit. Open the box and check for any blown fuses. If you find one, replace it with a new fuse of the same amperage rating.

Low refrigerant levels due to a leak could be another reason your AC is not kicking on. Detecting and repairing a refrigerant leak requires professional expertise as it involves handling and recharging the refrigerant. It's crucial to contact a certified technician to inspect and fix any refrigerant leaks in your AC unit.

Dirty air filters can also prevent your air conditioner from turning on. When air filters become clogged with dust and debris, it restricts airflow and can cause the system to shut down. Regularly cleaning or replacing air filters is essential to maintain optimal performance. To replace the air filters, locate them near the return air duct or inside the air handler cabinet, depending on your AC system.

One of the most common causes of an AC unit not kicking on is a failed capacitor on the outside unit. The capacitor helps the outside condenser fan and compressor start. When the capacitor goes bad, the compressor and condenser fan won’t run and the inside blower unit won’t kick on.

Another common problem that can prevent your AC from kicking on is a clogged condensate drain. Then the condensate drain pipe clogs up with algae or snails, water backs up in the drain pan under the evaporator and a float switch prevents the AC from running. Here’s a video that shows how to clear that drain pipe and keep it clear:

By addressing these common issues, you might be able to solve the problem of your air conditioner not turning on. However, if the problem persists or if you need professional assistance, it's always recommended to schedule service by an experienced HVAC technician who can accurately diagnose and repair the issue.

The Significance of Regular HVAC Maintenance

Regular HVAC maintenance is key to ensure the optimal performance and longevity of your air conditioning system. By scheduling professional maintenance with Sears Home Services, you can enjoy numerous benefits and prevent potential AC problems.

One of the main benefits of professional HVAC maintenance is improved energy efficiency. A well-maintained air conditioner operates more efficiently, resulting in lower energy bills and reduced environmental impact. Regular cleaning and servicing of the system's components, such as the filters, coils, and condenser, help to improve airflow and enhance overall performance.

Additionally, regular maintenance helps to identify and address potential issues before they become major problems. HVAC technicians are trained to inspect and detect any signs of wear and tear, leaks, or faulty components. By identifying these issues early, you can avoid costly repairs or even a complete system breakdown.

To further prevent AC problems, there are some simple preventative measures you can take. Regularly changing or cleaning your air filters can significantly improve indoor air quality and prevent blockages that can restrict airflow. Keeping the area around your outdoor unit clear of debris and ensuring proper insulation can also help prevent common AC issues.

Scheduling regular maintenance with Sears Home Services is convenient and reliable. Our team of experienced technicians will perform a comprehensive inspection and tune-up to keep your air conditioner running smoothly. With our expertise and top-quality service, you can trust us to maintain the performance and reliability of your HVAC system.

Schedule your HVAC repair now!

Rely on our skilled technicians to diagnose and repair your HVAC equipment, ensuring optimal comfort in your home.

Call (213) 596-2538 or schedule online now.

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