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?