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Help! My AC’s Dead!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dateline: June 23rd, 2019 4:31 pm.

You have just walked in your front door from a long day at work only to find that instead of a nice comfortable 73 degrees it is 87 degrees in your house. It only takes a couple of seconds to realize that your air conditioner is not working and the questions begin to pile up in your mind. What’s wrong? Is it going to be expensive? Oh God, do I need a new one? Let’s look at some common causes of air conditioning failure and point you at a couple of things that could save you some time and money as well.

Let’s start with the first thing to check and that would be the thermostat. Is the screen blank? If so you likely just need to change the batteries in the thermostat and you could be back up in running in a matter of minutes. Wait, I changed the batteries in the thermostat and it is still blank, now what? Head to the garage or where ever the circuit breaker panel is located in your home and check the circuit breakers to see if one of the ones controlling the air conditioner has tripped. There will be two different breakers, one for the indoor unit or it may be marked air handler and one for the outdoor unit or it may be marked as condenser. In some cases it may just say AC. If either of the controlling circuit breakers are in the off position, flip it back on and see what happens. If the breaker trips immediately please head to the phone and call the professionals right away this is indicative of a bigger problem, however if the breaker stays on and the unit starts up, some minor power surge or fluke likely tripped it. I would still schedule a service call to have the system checked out but at least you are up and cooling for the moment.

Next thing I want you to look at if the thermostat is on and no breakers are tripped would be the drain line. In most residential applications there is going to be a safety float switch on the drain line as illustrated here:

safe t swtich
Safety float switch

The switch is designed to shut your AC system down if the drain line gets backed up. The top part where the wire goes in is removable, please lift it up and see if the safety switch is full of water.  Hold the top part by the plastic and let the little float at the bottom of the switch drop down. Did the unit come on? If so you have a backed up drain line and that little switch just saved you from a bunch of water damage. If you are handy and have a shop vacuum, go find where your drain line terminates outside the house and put the shop vacuum on it. You are probably going to get a bunch of white slimy stuff coming out of the drain line. For the record, that white slime is actually called Zooglea. (I am still waiting for the day that I get to play that word on a triple letter, triple word score in Scrabble or Words with Friends, I believe it would give you well over a hundred points!) Back to the drain line, even if you got most of the slime out and the unit is running set up a maintenance call to have the drain line professionally cleaned. Regular maintenance is something you should be doing any way.

If you have checked the above three things and none of them appear to be the reason the unit is not running grab the phone or hit the net and bring in the pros, I hope for your sake it is nothing major.

Well my friends my time here is up, I’ve got three dead units in a pizza shop to go attend to, maybe I’ll get a couple of free slices, we’ll see. Until next time did you hear about the baby boy whose grandmothers were from India, China, Italy and Ireland? They have a very long debate on what to name the child and then finally settled on Ravi O’Lee. Yeah I know that was bad…

House Whisperer out!!


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