3 Faulty Safety Switches That Will Leave You Sweating

HVAC equipment helps keep you comfortable all year long, but it's also fairly expensive equipment that can use a lot of power. Working around an air conditioner or furnace can be dangerous, and faulty equipment can pose hazards to your health and property. As a result, HVAC manufacturers use safety switches to help ensure that everything operates as it should.

While an air conditioner doesn't have as many risks associated with its operation as a furnace, there are still several safety switches that help protect you and your cooling equipment. While these switches are crucial for the safe operation of your air conditioner, a fault in one of these three switches can also leave you sweating on a hot summer day.

1. Condensate (Float) Safety Switches

Every modern central air conditioning system needs a way to eliminate moisture that condenses on the evaporator. Typical installations use a condensate drainpipe that connects to your home's plumbing or drains outside. Some systems may also use a pump if there's no feasible way to utilize gravity in the drainpipe system.

Whatever design your home uses, clogs can be potentially damaging. A clog in the condensate line will allow water to back up toward the air handler, threatening your equipment and potentially making a mess. Condensate safety switches (your system may have more than one) monitor this situation, but a faulty switch can cause your AC to shut down even if the drainpipe is flowing freely.

2. Blower Door Safety Switch

The blower door safety switch is a shockingly simple switch that can potentially stop your AC system from turning on. The indoor side of your air conditioning system includes the evaporator coil, typically located in your air handler unit. This unit may include a door that allows access to the evaporator and blower, and most manufacturers install safety switches on this door.

The purpose of the door safety switch is to stop the blower from turning on while the door is open. This switch stays closed while the door is on and opens to break the circuit when you remove the door. A faulty switch may remain in the open position, stopping your system from working. Depending on the design of your system, this may stop the compressor from engaging or only stop the blower.

3. Compressor Overload Protector

Your compressor is the most expensive part of your AC system and the most critical component to protect. The compressor overload protector acts as a thermal overload switch, preventing the compressor from overheating and burning out its windings by drawing too much amperage. The overload protector can potentially save your compressor from situations that overwork it.

The protector is effectively a switch that opens when high amperage runs through it and generates too much heat. A faulty switch may remain open, but you should never attempt to remove it yourself. Instead, stop using your system and contact an HVAC professional immediately if you suspect your compressor's overload protector is tripping.  

For more information about AC repair, contact a local professional.