Power outages have a knack for occurring at the most inconvenient times. Whether your evening is cut short by a sudden storm surge or you find yourself without cool air in the middle of the day, getting your home’s temperature back to normal can feel like a race against the clock. Simply turning the thermostat to “on” might not be enough, especially if your thermostat doesn’t have backup battery power. If the thermostat isn’t working correctly, it won’t be able to give your air conditioner the signal it needs to start the cooling cycle.
Here’s an easy four step process to resetting your thermostat after a power outage.
Before doing any other troubleshooting, start by finding your thermostat and turning it off. You don’t want your thermostat to be on and signaling the system when completing the later steps in our process that involve electricity. Once the thermostat is off, you can proceed to step two.
Power outages and surges can overwhelm your air conditioner’s circuit, causing it to trip. You’ll need to locate your home’s circuit breaker box to confirm if this is happening in your home. The exact location differs, but you can typically find a circuit breaker box in the garage, a closet, the laundry room, or on the exterior of your home.
Once you’ve found the circuit breaker box, the next step is to reset it. Inside the breaker box you’ll find circuits that power the large appliances and areas of your home. Find the one labeled “air conditioner” or “HVAC” and see if it’s been turned from “on” to a neutral position. If the circuits aren’t labeled, look to see if anyone of them have been tripped to narrow it down. To reset the circuit, turn it off and then back on.
We know that waiting is the last thing you want to do when dealing with a house that’s becoming warmer than you’d like. But, this step is crucial to make sure your thermostat and air conditioner resets correctly. The system needs this time to reset its internal circuit breaker—turning things back on too soon could cause everything to trip all over again.
After waiting 30 minutes, the next step is to turn your thermostat on and set it to at least five degrees below room temperature, to ensure the air kicks on right away. If you feel a rush of cool air, you’ve reset your thermostat successfully, and can go back to enjoying the comforts of your home.
If the steps above caused the circuit breaker to trip again, there are a few main causes that could be at play. If a breaker is tripping repeatedly, it’s important that you don’t turn it back on. While it’s inconvenient at times, your home’s circuit breaker has the important job of protecting the wiring and electrical equipment in your home. Tripping a breaker is your home’s way of telling you that the current flow of electricity is too high. If you turn the breaker back on, you run the risk of starting a fire.
Here are the most common causes of an air conditioner repeatedly tripping a circuit breaker.
Refrigerant is essentially the blood of your air conditioner and plays a vital role in heat exchange. Without it, your air conditioner has to work harder to cool your home. All this hard work can overheat the system and cause it to trip the breaker.
Refrigerant leaks are one of the most common problems that result in a significant amount of air conditioner repairs. If you have a refrigerant leak, simply adding more refrigerant is not the solution. An HVAC technician will need to work to restore the charge of the system to the manufacturer’s specifications. Checking refrigerant levels and identifying leaks is one of the many services we provide as part of our 26-point maintenance plan.
Dust, dirt, and grime buildup on an air filter can block airflow. With less air flowing, your system has to run longer to reach the temperature you set on the thermostat. Longer run times tend to lead to overheating. Fortunately, it’s easy to change the filter.
The compressor is the single most important component of an air conditioner. It serves as the central command center of the entire cooling operation. Because it uses so much power, compressors are prone to startup issues after years of wear and tear. These startup issues can trip a circuit breaker due to the amount of electricity the compressor uses.
One way to protect a compressor and reduce the amount of electricity it uses is a Start Assist Kit. These electrical tools attach to the condensing unit of an air conditioner and provide extra voltage to help a compressor start up faster. Starting up faster means less energy usage overall and less risk of costly breakdowns.
Scheduling annual preventative maintenance is one of the most important things you can do to keep your air conditioner in good working condition for the cooling season. Without it, small problems can turn into big ones, like the kind that cause your air conditioner to trip the circuit breaker. If your system hasn’t been maintained in a while, it’s possible that things like dirty evaporator coils and decreased airflow could be the reason the circuit breaker keeps tripping.
If you tried the steps above and air still isn’t flowing, the problem may be too big for you to solve on your own. In that case, we’re more than happy to step in. Contact our comfort specialists to get your home back to a comfortable temperature with a fully functioning thermostat and system.