7 Reasons Your AC Stopped Working Over Winter
We are still waiting for AC season, but it’s just around the corner. Sometimes ACs work differently than expected when they haven’t been turned on in a while. We explore seven possible reasons why your AC stopped working over the winter, and you can prevent them.
7 Common Reasons Why Your AC Won’t Turn On
Because your AC sits idle a few months during winter, there’s time for issues to ensue. Several reasons we go over are straightforward and have easy repairs. Others are more consequential and need professional attention.
1. Tripped Breaker or Blown Fuse
While it’s doubtful a breaker or fuse tripped without the air conditioner running, it’s always good to check these first. If a circuit breaker or fuse is the culprit, this may be caused by an electrical fault. Call an HVAC professional to troubleshoot the issue and resolve the AC overloading its circuit.
2. Flipped Emergency Shut Off
Suppose your AC unit had a maintenance check after the summer season. In that case, an emergency shut-off switch might have been accidentally flipped. Check the switches on the air handler and outdoor unit and turn to the on position if necessary.
3. Weather Damage
Late fall storms followed by winter storms can pack a punch or two your AC system is not ready for. High winds and heavy rain can send mud and other debris into the condenser unit, blocking fan blades and other parts critical to function. Or, falling tree branches can seriously damage, if not unfortunately destroy, the condenser.
4. Blower and Fan Failure
Inside the air handler, you will find the blower motor and fan. Old blowers are particularly sensitive to winter conditions and may seize up. If there’s no sound from the blower motor, or air coming from your home’s air vents, the issue is likely in the air handler.
5. Faulty Condenser
The outdoor unit, or condenser, is subjected to cold temperatures, ice, snow, wind, and anything else Mother Nature throws during the winter. All have the potential to cause issues for your air conditioner. Unless covered, ice and wind-blown debris can clog the condenser coils. This often leads to the condenser overheating if it doesn’t stop functioning.
6. Refrigerant Leaks
The AC condenser unit may have a refrigerant leak if you feel air blowing from the air vents, but it’s not cool or cold. This is the liquid the system uses to cool the air, but it becomes futile without enough refrigerant. While a leak can cause the evaporator coils to freeze over, it likely won’t happen in the winter. But, when you turn on the AC and it runs like normal for a few minutes but stops, and you see ice on the coils, a refrigerant leak is a likely cause.
7. Clogged Air Filter
While a dirty air filter shouldn’t block enough airflow to stop your AC unit from working, a filthy one may. If the AC and furnace share the same filter, there’s a chance this can occur. Look at the air filter and replace it if it appears to be blocking airflow
Prepare AC for Spring
Even if you don’t need the cool comfort of your home’s AC in the spring, use the time to clean the unit and prepare for the upcoming summer temperatures.
Clean debris around the condenser
Outdoor debris, such as branches, dirt, leaves, and twigs, can build up in the condenser during winter. It’s essential to clean all of this out as it can impact the unit’s ability to appropriately ventilate and regulate itself during operation. Keeping at least two feet of unobstructed space around the condenser is recommended to allow for adequate airflow.
Change the Air Filter
A dirty air filter obstructs the airflow into the AC system. The filter should be changed every two to three months as adequate airflow reduces wear and tear on the entire system and increases its functional lifespan.
Examine and Repair Ductwork
Any accidental opening in the ductwork can cause your AC to work inefficiently and decrease the comfort in your home. Have the ductwork examined by a professional and any rips or tears repaired.
Schedule a Tune-up
Regular maintenance and tune-ups are the easiest way to keep your AC system running for up to 20 years. A spring tune-up looks for any issues that have developed over the winter and mitigate future ones.
These appointments help you avoid major breakdowns, improve indoor air quality, reduce energy bills, and extend the life of your AC system.
Keeping up with AC maintenance throughout the year is a great way to reduce the chances it will turn on in the spring. But, if your AC fails for any of the reasons mentioned above, contact JW Plumbing, Heating and Air for professional HVAC service.