With warm weather often comes severe thunderstorms with heavy precipitation and hail. Sometimes, these storms can cause your air conditioning to stop working after the power goes out. This causes many homeowners to wonder, “Why is my AC not working after a power outage?” Nothing is worse than a lack of cool air circulating through your home when the humidity increases.

At Leith Heating & Cooling, our experts in AC repair in Elgin, IL, encounter a few common causes behind defunct air conditioners. Call us at (847) 860-7092 to schedule a service if the problem persists. 

Continue reading to learn why your AC unit might not work after a power outage.   

#1. Your Breaker Tripped

When your power goes out, it can often cause a power surge that trips your circuit breaker. A tripped breaker actually serves as a safety feature to prevent your electric systems from taking too much power at one time. When the electricity from lightning surges through a grounding point in your house, its power can destroy important appliances. 

So the breaker intercepts that surge and switches the power off for affected appliances. Most air conditioning systems have an indoor and outdoor breaker that controls the electricity delivered to each half of the system. So what does a tripped breaker look like?

A power surge can affect both indoor and outdoor systems. It can also trip just one. For example, your breaker tripped the outdoor unit while the indoor system hasn’t tripped. This causes your system to function without supplying cold air. 

If both breakers trip, your AC system won’t work at all. Fortunately, this issue has a simple solution. Check your breaker box for tripped switches. Flip the switches back to the “on” position, and your AC should start working again.  

#2. Compressor Failure

Power surges can also damage certain AC components. So if you’ve checked the breakers and still need an answer to “Why is my AC not working after a power outage?” you may need professional repair services to solve the problem. 

Compressors are vulnerable to damage from power surges. Compressors facilitate heat exchange by removing warm air from your home and delivering cool air in its place. These components push refrigerant throughout your AC system. 

When a surge results in a power outage, it could destroy the compressor’s wires or overheat the component. Sometimes, a skilled technician can fix the compressor and get your AC in working condition again. Other times, you’ll need a replacement part or a new AC unit altogether, depending on the extent of the damage and whether you have other known AC problems

#3. Capacitor Failure

The capacitor powers up the compressor. Without a functioning capacitor, your AC compressor won’t have the energy to function. Sudden power surges can overload and destroy the capacitor.

Once electricity travels through your local power lines again, you’ll attempt to turn your appliances back on. You’ll notice that your AC system runs but doesn’t produce cold air. When this issue arises, you can probably blame a damaged capacitor. 

Most capacitors are inexpensive to replace. So if your technician can’t fix the capacitor, look into replacement options instead. Once you’ve solved the capacitor problem, your air conditioner should go back to working perfectly again.   

How Power Outages Can Affect Your AC

Can power outages cause lasting damage to your AC unit? Unfortunately, they can. Lightning strikes, power grid fluctuations, and overworking electrical components can shorten the lifespan of several parts. 

While power outages most often affect capacitors and compressors, they can also damage other essential parts, such as blower motors. The design of these components works well with predictable energy flow. They can sustain damage when cycles stop and start suddenly.

If you want to prevent your AC unit from developing expensive problems, you can take a few steps to protect it. Oncoming storms often push intense heat and humidity through the area before their arrival, and you might feel tempted to crank up the AC and ensure your comfort. 

However, we suggest turning your AC off until the storm passes. Lightning strikes can occur ahead of the storm as well as during it. Their unpredictable and volatile nature can cause extensive destruction to numerous home appliances. 

Playing it safe by powering important appliances down could save you from expensive repairs, part replacements, and appliance installations. Your air conditioner may also last longer since you’ve eliminated unnecessary system starts and stops, and you’ll also protect it from power surges.  

If you want to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home preceding a storm’s arrival, invest in surge protectors. You can install a surge protector by connecting it to your outdoor unit. If lightning strikes or a power surge occurs for another reason, it’ll absorb the excess energy. 

This prevents your AC unit from absorbing the full surge’s power. Your parts will remain intact and functioning. Plus, you’ll enjoy your preferred comfort levels indoors.   

Restarting Your AC Unit Following a Power Outage

If you need to restart an AC unit after a power outage, you can follow a few basic steps. First, consider the power outage’s cause. Was it abrupt and violent? 

If so, you should let your AC system rest by keeping it powered off for a while. After around five minutes, begin resetting your electrical systems. Check the breaker box for tripped breakers. 

If you note several tripped breakers, flip the switches one by one. Listen carefully for any strange sounds or other sensations. Make sure your AC unit can reach your desired temperature setting. 

if your AC struggles to meet your needs or otherwise exhibits odd symptoms, speak with our AC technicians for prompt services.  

Choose the #1 AC Services in Elgin, IL, with Leith Heating & Cooling

“Why is my AC not working after a power outage?” If you’ve let your system rest and checked the breakers, leave the issue to our professional AC technicians. We have experience with common HVAC problems and arrive ready to solve them. Call us at (847) 860-7092 to schedule our services. 

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