Air conditioner seeking to un-kick bucket
August 10, 2012 6:03 AM   Subscribe

Air conditioner won't turn on. Before I shell out for a new one, is there any hope of saving/troubleshooting it?

The Internet has taught me there's no reason to ever have a window unit repaired, but if I can troubleshoot it myself I'm game. Mitigating circumstance: it's a pretty big window unit sitting above the door in a storefront, so not exactly as simple as exchanging one in my apartment.

  • When I push the power button, nothing happens. It doesn't beep, it doesn't sputter, it doesn't blow warm air, no lights come on, it just sits there.
  • The electrical socket we're plugging it into *does* work. I plugged another AC unit into the same spot and it turns on fine. (Unfortunately this one won't fit in the window)
  • It doesn't beep when you plug it in. The other unit beeps when you plug it in.
  • Pushing the 'Reset' button on the plug doesn't do anything, which is how I'd expect this to be fixed.
  • We inherited the unit, so assume it's kind of old. It's a Frigidaire.
I'm going to wear out my fingers pushing that 'Reset' button until we figure this thing out.
posted by soma lkzx to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you capable of opening the thing up and testing the capacitors without electrocuting yourself? If so -- and assuming you have the equipment to do it -- I'd check the caps, check the motor connection, and check if the control panel is actually hooked up to the rest of the innards. I'm not exactly Captain HVAC (hell, I'd never go around poking in there) but those would probably be the main culprits.
posted by griphus at 6:14 AM on August 10, 2012

(Also, if it's a storefront unit, I'd consult an HVAC repair person before shelling out for a new one. At worst you lose out on the price of the consultation + new AC, at best you don't need a new AC.)
posted by griphus at 6:16 AM on August 10, 2012

The only advice I have to offer is that you may need to press the reset button quite hard for it to reset. Also, you might try pushing the "test" button next to the reset button. This should trip the device, and you'll feel the mechanical action of the reset button when you subsequently press it.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:24 AM on August 10, 2012

I'm more familiar with Central Air.

Is there a filter you can change? I've had A/C freeze up like that when air flow was restricted (if nothing else can you vacuum out the vents?)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:24 AM on August 10, 2012

Are you able to see the backside of the unit? I had the same issue with one of my window units and nothing worked-- not the reset button, not cleaning the filter, not opening it up and making sure the thermostat sensor wasn't touching the evaporator coil.

When we finally bought a new one and removed the old one we saw that the protective screen on the back of the unit had been pried off and there was a nest inside. That's right. Bird squatters. How they got the screen off is a mystery, though I wouldn't put must past the damn Mockingbirds that have decided to live outside my 6th floor windows.

Anyway, have a look at the back of the unit to see if the problem is there.
posted by idest at 6:37 AM on August 10, 2012

A frozen evaporator coil would not prevent the control lights (or the fan) from starting up.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:37 AM on August 10, 2012

(On a window unit, that is.)
posted by Juffo-Wup at 6:39 AM on August 10, 2012

Oh, the last thing I can think that would make it completely unresponsive is a blown fuse inside the unit.
posted by griphus at 6:40 AM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

The Reset button finally reset it! Maybe my weak late-night presses weren't enough yesterday, but Juffo-Wup's "[push until you are going to smash it]" definitely worked.

Thanks, everyone! I'm probably going to go through and clean it sometime soon to stave off any other issues down the road.

Oh, the last thing I can think that would make it completely unresponsive is a blown fuse inside the unit.

Yeah, that's what was so confusing to me - I figured if something inside was broken it'd at least give me a beep.
posted by soma lkzx at 6:56 AM on August 10, 2012


Also, if it had been a blown fuse inside the AC's power supply, it wouldn't give you any beeps because the unit would be wholly disconnected from the line.
posted by griphus at 7:02 AM on August 10, 2012

Huh, cool, glad I could help!

In addition to staving off future problems, keeping the filter and "coils" (evaporator and condenser grilles) clean will get you more cooling for each dollar of electricity you spend. Just be sure not to bend the grilles when cleaning them.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 9:57 AM on August 10, 2012

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