The sun is out, the birds are singing, and spring is turning into summer. With the rising temperatures also comes the need to turn on the AC for the first time of the season. Unfortunately, this doesn't go as planned and homeowners often find that the system that was working great in fall is failing to turn on come spring. The following are a few reasons why your AC may be having issues.
Check the breaker
In many homes the air conditioner is on a separate breaker from the rest of the house. It may not even be inside the same main breaker box as the rest of the house. Before calling for service, locate the breaker box. Begin by inspecting it for any signs of damage, such as scorching. If you notice this, call in a professional since there may be a wiring issue. Otherwise, try testing it yourself. First, turn the switch to the completely off position, then flip it to the fully on position. It should stay in place if there is no issue. Now, try turning on the AC. Often, this is sufficient to fix the problem if the issue was with the breaker.
Test the thermostat
Many times the issue isn't with the AC unit at all, but with the thermostat. The simplest issue can be that the thermostat is still on the furnace setting or that it was turned off completely, so make sure it is switched to cooling mode. If your AC still won't turn on, then turn the thermostat to the lowest temperature setting and wait a few moments. Sometimes a thermostat needs recalibrated, which is likely the case if you can force it to turn on using this method. If all else fails, check the thermostat with a multimeter to verify that it is properly powered and working. A thermostat is much more easily and inexpensively replaced compared to the whole AC unit.
Inspect the exterior unit
Finally, move to the exterior unit -- but first switch off the breaker so there will be no electrical concerns during your inspection. Begin by removing the outer casing on the unit. If there is leaves, debris, or animal nesting materials in the AC, remove these and clear out the debris with a shop vac. Sometimes these things get into your AC and jam the blower, so cleaning it out may fix the problem. Also, check for signs of wear, fraying wires, or visible damage to the motor or fan. A broken belt is typically obvious and an easy fix to do yourself, for example.
If you can't find the problem or simply don't have the skill to repair it, call an air conditioning service for more help.