AC Not Blowing Cold Air After Power Outage

October 25, 2017

Is your AC blowing WARM air after a recent power outage?

We’ll help you troubleshoot this common weather-related problem.

Usually, the 3 main reasons your AC won’t blow cold air after a power outage include:

  1. A tripped circuit breaker
  2. A bad capacitor
  3. Compressor failure

Sound confusing? Don’t worry—we’ll explain each of these problems and how to solve them. 

Need an air repair technician right away? Just give us a call and we’ll help you troubleshoot this problem immediately. 

Problem #1: Tripped circuit breaker

Your home’s air conditioning system has 2 units:

  • Indoor air handler (where the fan and evaporator coil are located)
  • Outdoor condenser unit

Now, both units are connected to their own individual circuit on the circuit breaker.

Both of these circuit breakers are designed to monitor the flow of current going into their perspective units. If the circuit breaker senses dangerous current levels, like the ones produced by a power outage, it will “trip” and shut off electricity to the unit it protects.

Now sometimes, the outdoor unit’s circuit breaker trips but the indoor unit’s doesn’t. If that happens, it means your indoor unit (fan and evaporator coil) will continue to work, but without help from the outdoor unit, your AC system eventually loses its ability to produce cool air.

You see, your outdoor unit’s job is to transfer heat from inside your home to the outdoor air. But if its circuit breaker trips, all of that heat is sent right back indoors, which is why you’ll feel warm air at the AC vents.

So here’s what to do: 

  • Go to your circuit breaker and check the circuit that controls your AC (you should see one circuit marked “Air handler” or “Indoor AC,” and another labeled “Condenser” or “Outdoor AC unit.” See this image of a labeled circuit breaker.)
  • If the compressor circuit is tripped (flipped to the OFF position), reset it and see if your AC starts to cool your home after 1 hour. If it immediately trips back to the OFF position, do not attempt to flip it again. Just contact a professional to find and fix the problem.

Don’t see a tripped circuit breaker and still not getting cold air? Continue reading...

Problem #2: Bad capacitor

Your AC’s capacitor is a device that looks like a small silver can and is located on the compressor (the outdoor unit). Its purpose is to help your AC’s compressor start up. 

Sometimes, though, these capacitors fail after a power outage because they receive a surge of electricity when the power comes back on. 

So how does a bum capacitor cause warm air at your AC vents? Well, if the capacitor goes bad, your outdoor unit can’t start. And, just like we explained earlier, this means the indoor air handler will continue to function, but the heat won’t escape outside (because the outdoor unit isn’t working). So you’ll quickly feel warm air instead of cold air at your vents.

You can usually tell by looking at a capacitor if it’s bad because you’ll see a bulging top or an oily substance leaking from it.

Because capacitors are electrical components, we recommend having a trained technician handle a capacitor replacement to avoid any electrical danger. Plus, you run the risk of voiding any warranties if you don’t have a professional do the job.

If you end up needing a new capacitor, they’re usually around $90–$400+.

Problem #3: Compressor failure

In the worst case scenario, the surge of electricity that typically accompanies a power surge may have damaged your compressor.

Your compressor sits inside your outdoor unit and plays a huge part in the AC’s “heat transfer” process. Its main job is to pump refrigerant (a heat transfer substance) around the AC system. So no compressor = no refrigerant. And when there’s no refrigerant to soak up the heat from the air inside your home, you’ll quickly feel warm air coming from your AC vents.

Unfortunately, the cost to replace a compressor ranges from $1,350–$1,800 depending on the size and type of unit you need (you’ll need to match it to your indoor unit).

Since it’s such a major repair, you may want to get a second opinion before you decide to replace it. A trustworthy technician will show you exactly what’s wrong with the compressor so you know you aren’t getting scammed.

Need an AC technician to get your system running again?

Contact Red Cap Air. We’ll send one of our technicians over ASAP to get your AC blowing cold air again.


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