3 Reasons Your AC Won't Turn on After the Winter

While you don't need to shut down or unplug a modern central air conditioning system over the winter, there's a good chance that yours still sits idle for most of the colder months. This period of inactivity means that turning the system back on in the spring is often a nerve-wracking ordeal. Even though you aren't using your system over the winter, it can still potentially suffer failures and refuse to turn on.

Because you don't want to suffer without cold air during the hottest months of the year, it's often a good idea to turn your system on at least once while temperatures are still cool in the spring. If you find that your system doesn't fire up as you expect, don't panic: there's a good chance the problem is one of these three common issues that can arise after a long period of inactivity.

1. Accidental Shut Off and Power Issues

Start with the easiest culprits before worrying about more severe problems. Unlike furnaces, most air conditioners don't have a switch that you can use to shut them off. Instead, you can find a disconnect box outside near your condenser unit. This box will contain a switch, breaker, or fuse that you can use to cut power to the system. Ensure your disconnect is on and that the fuse is good.

If there's no problem with the disconnect, your next step should be to check your breaker or fuse box. Central air conditioning systems require dedicated circuits, so if you know your AC is to blame if you discover that it tripped its breaker. Try switching the breaker back on, but contact a professional if the AC repeatedly blows fuses or trips breakers.

2. Condenser Damage

Your condenser unit is relatively weather-proof, but it's far from invincible. This box has a few potential vulnerabilities, especially over the winter months. If you're going to investigate the condenser yourself, use the disconnect described above to shut it off first. Once the system is safe, look for evidence of damage to the fan on top or large debris inside it.

You may also want to look for signs of rodent infestations. Mice and other critters seeking warmth may try to get into the condenser during the winter months. Once inside, these rodents can chew on wiring and cause other damage. If you see signs of nesting, contact a professional to evaluate the damage and suggest repairs.

3. Mechanical Issues

Unfortunately, the least common problem is also the most severe. Mechanical problems with the condenser can cause it to have difficulty starting. After a long period of inactivity, it may struggle to start up when you need it. If you can hear a buzzing near your condenser or the sounds of your compressor attempting to start, you may have a mechanical issue with the compressor.

If you notice this problem, don't continue attempting to use your air conditioner. You may be able to repair the issue with a hard start kit, but repeatedly trying to start the compressor may cause more damage. Contact an air conditioning repair professional as soon as possible to rule out other problems and determine if you can repair your unit.