Outside Air Conditioner Unit Not Turning On: Reasons And Solutions

Facing issues with the outside air conditioner unit is a very common phenomenon for most people. Cool air not coming out of the vents or the air conditioner not running at all?

Instead of calling for help, there are a few things you can do to identify the problem and maybe even solve it.

Before we get to the fixes, let us have a look at the problems that could lead to your outside air conditioner unit not turning on.

Indicators of the Outside AC Unit Not Running

outside air conditioner unit not turning on

Usually, with the outside air conditioner not running, the main indicators are related to the outdoor AC compressor not running, faulty fan motor, and capacitor.

So how do you understand that your outside AC unit is not working?  Keep an eye out for the following issues when checking the outdoor unit.

  • The Outside AC unit containing the compressor and condenser will always continue to make a noise, no matter how silent the Split system is. If you notice there is no noise at all, this could indicate a problem with the unit not running.
  • If you can understand that the compressor is running inside from the noise but air conditioner outside fan not working, this also indicates an issue with the outside unit.
  • Lastly, you can also find out if your outside AC unit is not running by observing your indoor unit. If there is warm air coming out of the indoor unit, that is also an indication of your outside unit not running.

Now that you know, the indicators of the outside air conditioner unit not running, it is important that you know what may cause these issues.

What Might Cause Your Outdoor Unit to Stop Working?

Most malfunctions of the outdoor unit are not hard to identify. Some of the problems may be big but they are not beyond repair. The silver lining to these problems is that you can fix them yourself with some insights from us.

So let us talk about the common malfunctions that your outdoor unit may face so that you can diagnose them yourself before calling the technician.

  1. Faulty Contactor

The contactor is an integral part of the air conditioning unit that controls the flow of electricity in all components of the unit.

It provides the power supply to the outdoor unit’s components that is the compressor and condenser.outside AC unit contactor

The thing that goes wrong with contactors is that they tend to get burned usually after normal usage for years.

But it could also happen because of overheating. So that would result in the components not receiving the power supply.

But if the contactor is faulty from the beginning, then it would just run continuously even when you turn off the thermostat.

What happens in the air conditioner is that when the thermostat is about to start a cooling cycle, the contactor is kept in down position by supplying voltage.

And when the cooling cycle is over, the thermostat sends another small voltage to keep it in the up position, thus stopping the power supply to other components.

Contactors get dirty from time to time.  If the contactor gets dirty for some reason, it can get jammed in either position even when the thermostat is off.

That may lead to the contractor running even when a cooling cycle has ended.

  1. Malfunction of Compressor

It is said that the compressor is the heart of the air conditioning system. It requires a huge amount of power supply to turn on. But with time, the compressor faces issues as it begins to wear off.

The compressor faces an issue called hard starting, which actually means the AC compressor is facing difficulty turning on and stay that way.

As a result, it ends up needing more power just to stay on. In most cases, this causes the circuit breaker to trip.

However, this means that the compressor has become old or faulty and requires replacing.

The compressor also sometimes faces an issue where the electrical wiring gets damaged and affects the compressor.

This causes shorting to the ground and results in burnout. This is usually known as a grounded compressor.

There is no quick fix to this issue. The only way to fix this is to change the compressor or the whole outdoor unit.

  1. High-Pressure Switch Tripping

The pressure switches are safety components equipped in the unit for the security of other components.

Now there are two types of pressure switches- the first being high-pressure switches and the other being low-pressure switches.

The high-pressure switch checks the air conditioning system for faulty condensers and stops other components from running into any system failure.

Although these pressure switches are built into the system to safeguard other components, they can sometimes run into issues themselves.

There are a few reasons why the high-pressure switch could trip.

  •  A dirty outdoor coil or condenser coil can cause the high-pressure switch to trip.
  • The condenser fan motor could be faulty or malfunctioning due to high amperage.
  • The high amperage could be caused by the motor run capacitor so that should be checked as well.
  • Motor blades cycling in the wrong path could also be a reason.
  • If the system faces overcharged refrigerant, it will cause the high-pressure switch to trip.
  • When moisture or air enters the system from outside, it can result in high head pressure thus causing the tripping of the pressure switch.
  • Any sort of blockage in the cooling cycle can also result in the high-pressure switch to trip.
  • A loose connection in the system or faulty thermostat may also cause an issue with the high-pressure switch.
  • Lastly, the high temperature outside can heat up the coil which causes the high-pressure switch to malfunction.

The sad news is, there could other reasons why the outside AC unit may not be turning on. Let’s check them too!

  1. Faulty Disconnect Boxes

The disconnect box of the air conditioner is also known as the fuse box which contains the breakers and fuses, i.e., the main components of the unit that supply the energy.

It also ensures the safety of the air conditioner. Usually, the disconnect box is situated outside, near the outdoor unit.

Since the AC disconnect box is situated outside, it may sometimes end up getting faulty because of external issues.

Other times, the connections inside the disconnect boxes loosen up. This causes the box to burn up.

  1. Malfunction of Circuit Breaker

The circuit breaker of an air conditioner may usually malfunction because of the air conditioner taking in too much power than what the breaker’s capacity is.AC circuit breaker

The job of the circuit breaker is to protect the air conditioner and its components from this over the surge of power and avoid a potential fire from breaking out.

But if the circuit breaker keeps on tripping continuously, it can become hazardous. So let us have a look at the probable causes that may make a circuit breaker to trip or malfunction.

  • Damaged condenser coil fan.
  • The insufficient refrigerant will lead to a running AC but not cooling the house.
  • Dirty components like the air filter and air condenser.
  • Ac Compressor not working.
  • Worn off AC components.
  • Faulty wiring
  • Shorted Electric Motor
  • Malfunctioned Capacitor

When the circuit breaker reaches its maximum limit, it ends up tripping. Usually, that happens because the air conditioner is made to overwork and burn out.

The causes mentioned above are some of the reasons the air conditioner must overwork and trip the circuit breaker because of the power over surging.

The outdoor AC compressor, not running could also be one of the major reasons behind the tripping of the circuit breaker.

A faulty or worn-off AC compressor may require too much power to turn on, almost an over the surge of power. When this starts to happen, it can cause the circuit breaker to trip.

When the circuit breaker trips once, you can reset it and turn it on. But if it trips again right after turning it on, it is safe to wait for professional help.

  1. Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat is used to controlling the temperature inside the house. But a faulty thermostat may end up affecting the other components of the air conditioner.

For example, a faulty thermostat will cause short cycling. It basically causes the compressor of the outdoor unit to shut off before the whole cooling cycle ends.

This puts on a lot of pressure on the compressor as the short cycling keeps on continuing. So, it may end up damaging the compressor.

  1. Wiring Issues

The outdoor unit may stop working for issues caused by faulty wiring. Tripping of the circuit breaker due to faulty wiring can damage the components of the AC unit. This may cause the outdoor unit not to stop working.

The current flow can also get disrupted due to a loose connection. There are multiple wires in the system connected to different parts of the air conditioner.

Wires may get displaced for any reason and stop the flow of electricity from the power supply.

If any sort of exposed wire, has an encounter with water or other exposed wires, it may cause electrocution and damage to the AC components. Not just turning on, it will prevent the AC to turn off too.

  1. Tripping of Float Switch

The float switch, also known as the wet switch, prevents the overflow of water if the AC drain stops working for any reason.

When this AC drain gets clogged, and the pan starts getting filled with water, the float switch will trip. The float switch tripping causes the whole air conditioner system to shut down.

  1. Faulty Capacitor

The Capacitor is an important part of the outdoor unit. When the cooling cycle is about to start, the capacitor provides the system, mainly the compressor the energy to start.

A faulty capacitor will hinder the performance of the outdoor unit and result in the hindrance of the entire cooling system.

It may also tip off the circuit breaker with the incorrect voltage flow or over surge. In the long run, this will damage the components of the outdoor AC unit.

Capacitors can malfunction because of the following reasons:

  • Short circuits
  • Over surge of power
  • High temperature outside
  • Malfunctioning system circuit
  • Wear and tear of components

Although, it is hard to identify a faulty capacitor, the main symptoms of the outdoor unit not working usually indicate this.

How to Prevent the Problems of Outdoor Unit Not Working?

split AC outdoor unit not working

Instead of waiting for a problem to occur with the outdoor unit, it is better to always keep an eye out for any minor issues that your outdoor unit may face.

With that being said, it is very important to schedule yearly checkups of the whole system.

If you are not someone who has a good insight on these, it is better to call up your local technician for the work.

A yearly checkup will ensure the inspection of the entire system’s components for any damage or malfunction. At the same time, all the components will get a thorough cleaning in case dirt collects on them.

But it would be wise to be on the lookout for the following things in case there are any minor issues with your cooling system.

  • Check if your thermostat is functional.
  • Check the disconnect box of the outdoor unit.
  • Check the main power switch.
  • Check for a blown fuse in the main electric panel.
  • Check for any clogging in your AC’s drain line.
  • Keep an eye out for any exposed wires.

Watch this troubleshooting video if your outdoor AC unit is not working.

Understanding The Basic: Split Air Conditioner System

The Split Air Conditioner System is a budget-friendly, hassle-free, and cost-efficient system that consists of two units- the outdoor unit and the indoor unit.

In this system, the air conditioner compressor and condenser are built in the outdoor unit. And the indoor unit contains the evaporator coil and air filter.

The Split Air Conditioner system holds the components of the air conditioning system that make the noise in the outdoor unit. And multiple indoor units can be connected to one outdoor unit.

But the problem with this system is, it will not work properly i.e., cool your home unless the two units are working properly. For that, it needs the compressor and evaporator to be completely functional.

So, it is important to know what can lead to the split AC outdoor unit not working. And that’s what exactly we have done above.

Closing Remarks

It is important that you maintain all safety guidelines while checking for any issues with your outdoor unit.

It may be difficult for you to apprehend whether the issue with the outside air conditioner unit not turning on is big or small.

But if you can identify any of the issues mentioned here in your cooling system, it is wise to call a professional repairman.

We do recommend that your air-cooling system should be repaired only under professional guidance.

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