Category Archives: Repair

Watt’s Up: Understanding Air Conditioner Electrical Problems

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Seventy-five years ago, Phoenix was a sleepy agricultural town of 65,000 residents. The phenomenal growth of Phoenix (current population 1.6 million) is often attributed to three factors; perfect winter weather, accessible electrical power and two magic words – air conditioning. As home air conditioning units became more affordable in the 1960’s, home sales took off. Powered by multiple electric motors, air conditioning units make scorching Arizona summers bearable. Did you know that almost 80 percent of all air conditioning service calls are related to electrical issues?

Common Air Conditioner Electrical Problems

Air conditioners have many electrical circuits, wires and parts as well as two fans (powered by electrical) and the compressor motor. Over time, all these components are subject to normal wear and tear and may eventually break down. However, a word to the wise – if you’re not an electrical expert (and let’s face it, most of us aren’t), please do not do attempt to fix your own electrical problems. The advice we give our customers is don’t do anything more complicated than resetting the breaker switch. Electrical issues can cause serious damage to your air conditioning unit and more importantly, to you. Please be safe and call us immediately when you notice air conditioner electrical problems

Air Conditioning Breaker Switch

Air conditioning systems draw a fair amount of power, especially during the summer months when your AC unit is running full tilt for weeks at a time. There are many reasons your breaker switch might be tripped such as power grid failure, power surges or electrical issues due to storms. If your air conditioner stops working, always check the breaker switch first. If your breaker switch is constantly going off, that is an indication of a problem. You may have an undersized breaker, a faulty breaker switch or a loose breaker, all of which will require replacement.

What Are Capacitors?

Capacitors are essential to the electrical motors in your air conditioner. Capacitors regulate the “start-up” and “run” energy for the electric motors. Capacitors are found in virtually all electric motors and come in many shapes and sizes. Used mainly to store and release electric charges (similar to a short-term battery) capacitors regulate the motors in the compressor, blower and fan. If you have a faulty capacitor, you may notice a clicking sound upon start up or a loud hum if the motor can’t get going. Both sounds mean you should call for service immediately.

Electrical Wiring and Your Air Conditioner

Depending on when your home was built, the electrical wiring may not have been replaced or even inspected for decades. Years of intense heat, constant vibration and overall use can take quite a toll. In our years of providing great AC service to countless Phoenix homes, we have seen it all, including wires chewed raw by critters, wires damaged by power surges or lightening, and sadly, faulty wiring improperly installed when the home was originally constructed.

Electrical Problems Are Best Left to Professionals

Electrical problems are serious and require trained professionals. These are not do-it-yourself issues. At Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating, we have the experienced technicians who can recognize small electrical problems before they become big issues. If you’re AC unit and wiring has not been checked in the last calendar year, why not give us a call?

What If Your Air Conditioner Stops Working in the Middle of the Night?

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Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night by the uncomfortable feeling of perspiration on your neck and the alarming realization that your room is much warmer that it should be? It usually takes about three seconds for the panic to enter your brain, “OMG, it’s 3:00 am, and my air conditioning is not working!” There’s an old saying that Arizonans are born with five senses and quickly develop a sixth; sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and temperature. Desert dwellers have an infallible inner-thermostat that immediately detects the slightest increase in room temperature due to a drop-off in air conditioning – even in a deep sleep! What should you do if your air conditioner has stopped working in the dead of night?

Air Conditioning Quick Reference Checklist

If your air conditioning stops working or you notice warm air coming out of your air conditioner vents, there are some handy trouble shooting steps you can take to possibly remedy the situation. Here’s a quick reference guide to midnight air conditioning repair operations:

  • Midnight Emergency Tool Kit – To prepare for a late-night AC repair adventure, you might want to create a midnight emergency tool kit which can be a lifesaver not only for air conditioning problems but other issues, as well. Establish a convenient place for your storage kit nearby, so you don’t have to go searching in the darkness. You should include various items, including a working flashlight, a few basic tools, a pair of gloves, some rags, an extra set of batteries for your thermostat, a notepad and a pencil in case you need to write down information or model numbers. It’s helpful to have the phone number of your HVAC repairman and other emergency numbers (plumber, utilities, etc.) on a contact sheet in your kit. It might seem like overkill, but it will be extremely useful to have everything together in one location, so you don’t have to waste time rummaging around in the middle of the night.
  • Check Vents and Airflow – The first thing you’ll want to do is to check your vents and establish if you are getting any cool air, warm air, or no air at all. Check more than one vent to confirm the airflow and temperature throughout the house.
  • Thermostat – Check the thermostat to see that it is on, and the display is lit. If your thermostat is dead, it’s possible that the batteries have worn out or your thermostat is not getting power. Obviously, if the thermostat is inoperable, it cannot signal the air conditioner to cycle on. If the thermostat is working, but you don’t hear anything, try switching the fan from “auto” to the “on” position. If the fan comes on that indicates your thermostat is communicating with your HVAC system. If it does not come on, and if you have no air coming through your vents and you don’t hear the usual air conditioner sounds, it’s time to check the power.
  • Electric – Always check the electric power box and the AC circuit breakers before you proceed with any other troubleshooting. Unfortunately, many service calls have been performed only to find out the HVAC unit was not getting power. Sliding the breaker switch to the “off” position, waiting 10 seconds then resetting the breaker switch to the “on” position may be all the repair needed. Why might you lose power to your air conditioner? Sometimes, the power grid simply shuts down during the night or after a storm. Power surges can cause your breakers to be tripped. Your AC unit could have its own electrical issues.
  • Evaporator Coils Freezing Up – A common cause of warm air coming out of AC vents has to do with the evaporator coils icing up. If this happens, you’ll notice reduced air flow, or the air will not be as cool as it normally is. If you see ice on your AC unit, shut it down and let the ice melt.

Choose an Expert in AC Service and Repair

Experiencing air conditioning issues in the middle of the night can be upsetting. One of the wisest decisions you can make is to call the best air conditioning service in the Phoenix area. Call Bruce’s Air Conditioning and Heating.

What Defines an Air Conditioning Emergency?


Nearly every air conditioning service provider offers 24/7 emergency service. Yet, not every air conditioning problem is an emergency. Many homeowners are uncertain when a problem falls into the category of a true air conditioning emergency. Here are a few guidelines to help you determine if you are experiencing a situation that warrants emergency service.

A System Failure at the Worst Possible Time

It’s the perfect storm of air conditioning problems. You discover that your air conditioner stopped working on a Friday evening. It’s supposed to be the hottest weekend of the year. And, you have company coming to stay with you tomorrow! We’ve all been there, and yes, this is a true air conditioning emergency.

Vulnerable Family Members

In the greater Phoenix metro area, temperatures frequently exceed 110 degrees in the summer. This means that indoor temperatures can quickly get above 90 degrees if there is no air conditioning. High temperatures inside a home are not just uncomfortable. They can also be dangerous to young children, pets and the elderly. In any situation when high temperatures pose a health threat, you have an air conditioning emergency.

A Safety Issue

In some cases, an emergency air conditioning repair may be more to do with safety than your home’s comfort. For example, refrigerant may be leaking or the unit may have sparked, started smoking or even caught on fire. This isn’t a problem to take a “wait and see approach” with. Call for help day or night if you are worried about the safety of your family or home due to an air conditioning problem.

What’s Not an Air Conditioning Emergency

While no one enjoys a malfunctioning air conditioner, not all problems are emergencies. The vast majority of issues can be handled during normal business hours. These include:

  • Routine maintenance
  • General repairs when the outdoor temperatures are manageable
  • Installations
  • Unit failures due to power outages

Before Calling for Emergency Service

Not sure you need emergency service? You’ll want to check out the following before making that call:

  • Check to see if the circuit breaker tripped. If so, return the lever to its on position.
  • Inspect the thermostat to see if it has shut off.
  • Defrost any buildup of ice on your air conditioner by shutting off the unit and operating the fan to melt the ice.

Hopefully, you never have an air conditioning emergency. But, if you do, call Bruce’s Air Conditioning & Heating at 480-968-5652. We’re here for you 24/7 with expert repair service.

Should I Replace or Repair My Equipment? 5 Questions to Ask Yourself

Repair or Replace - 5 Questions to Ask Yourself - BrucesAC.comIf your heating or cooling unit is not functioning properly, you may have asked yourself “should I replace or repair my equipment?” Before deciding to repair or replace your heating or cooling unit, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.

By answering these questions, you will be able to determine what the best course of action is.

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