Window air conditioners are convenient for seasonal cooling or when you just need to cool a room – not a large house. These efficient machines can last a decade or more when properly maintained, and are relatively inexpensive given their cooling power. While they don’t require much maintenance, there is nothing more frustrating than when your window air conditioner won’t turn on.
Whether you’re returning from work or getting ready to relax after a shopping trip, coming home to a hot house is never ideal. Finding your air conditioner seemingly dead isn’t a great way to finish or start a day, but it’s a simple solution to fix more often than not.
Check for Power
As we don’t live in an age where wireless window AC units are a reality, your system will require power to work. Checking for power is the first thing you should do when a car doesn’t start, and it’s the same for an air conditioner that sits in a windowsill.
If you live with a roommate or family members, there’s a chance someone may have unplugged the unit. A pet or person could have tripped over the power cord and unplugged it from the wall as well. If you do find it hanging, look at the end of the plug to make sure the prongs aren’t bent before plugging it back in.
If that was the problem, and your AC unit is now running, don’t feel silly as it’s happened to many of us. It’s also easy to forget about things that are plugged in behind furniture in our homes. When your window air conditioner is still not working, it’s time to try a quick trick before we take a look at the cord and plug.
Reset your Window Air Conditioner
Most manufacturers agree on how to solve various issues with window AC units. When a window air conditioner won’t turn on, that’s a common problem that most manufacturers have a quick fix for. If your unit was turned on and off quickly or there was a power failure, it may need to be reset.
Your manual should give you instructions on how to do this, and it may not be necessary if your cord has a reset button. If not, a protective time delay may have been initiated to keep your system safe. In this case, simply turn the machine off and wait for three minutes before trying it again.
Check the Cord and Outlet
Power cords can become frayed, and while that shouldn’t be an issue with a stationary system, the cord will see some wear and tear if it’s stored for seasonal use. Unplug the unit from the wall, and then look the cord over for any frays or damage. If it has an in-line circuit breaker or fuse on the cord, you’ll want to make sure it’s functioning correctly.
Power outages and other incidents can blow fuses or kick the mini breaker in a cord. If the cord is fine, and nothing seems amiss, make sure the outlet doesn’t appear damaged. If you see any visible signs of distress around the plug, call an electrician. Otherwise, you can simply plug something else in to make sure the outlet is functioning properly.
Fuses and Breaker Boxes
If you’re still with us, and suffering through a humid home, it’s time to take the next step and consider other types of fuses. The last power problem that’s easy to diagnose involves the breaker box on your home. Vacuum cleaners are known for tripping breakers, and so are window AC units.
To see if this is the problem, locate the fuse or breaker box at your home. If it’s a modern home with a breaker box, and you are lucky, there will be labels next to each breaker. If one is “flipped’ in the opposite direction for the outlet in question, simply reset it and you should be back in business.
If your air conditioning system has an electronic control, that could be the problem. In this case, you’ll need to get a few tools together and remove a few parts to access the circuit board. Before you do that, check your manual or find the model number for your system and consult an online guide to make sure there is a fuse in your window air conditioning unit.
The location of the fuse and how you’ll get to it will vary, but modern manufacturers make them easy to access. Unplug the window air conditioner; locate the fuse and check to see if it’s blown. Replace it if necessary, reassemble the unit and try it again. Hopefully, that solved your problem, and you now know where to find the fuse if necessary in the future.
Is it time to call a Pro?
Unfortunately, sometimes fixing a window air conditioner that won’t turn on isn’t simple as there could be an underlying issue at work. It could be a bad temperature sensor in your machine, something that most homeowners will not be able to diagnose unless they are comfortable with multi-meters and taking things apart.
Whether calling a professional to fix your unit is worth it depends on the system itself. If it was expensive, but the warranty has expired, calling a handyman to assess the situation may be a good option. Otherwise, it may be time to consider replacing the air conditioner given the price of repairs given the fact you can pick up a new system for $150 - $500 depending on your needs.
Window Air Conditioner Buying Tips
If you are considering a new window AC unit because yours won’t turn on or you feel it’s just time for an upgrade, buying a new system can be quite the endeavor. Whether you are replacing a unit you inherited or haven’t purchased one in a few decades, here are a few quick tips to keep in mind.
The first thing to look for is an efficiency rating; something every window air conditioner will have. If you feel like your current system was doing a good job, you may be able to pick a machine with a similar CEER rating. While different from SEER, the rating for HVAC systems, CEER, and EER are all about energy efficiency and ratings to pay close attention to.
You should also consider the features on a window air conditioning system, as they will have a large impact on price. The control panel is an excellent place to start as digital control panels are convenient but are usually found on more expensive machines. Want something in the budget class? Well, you may need to adjust to using knobs.
Units with digital controls allow for more accuracy and typically come with other features as well. Timers are popular as well as systems that will enable you to schedule a cooling session. There are even connected window AC systems like the Frigidaire Cool Connect, a far better system than the skewed ratings imply.
Will the air conditioner be in a room where you’ll sleep? If so, you may want to check the decibel level or look for a unit with a built-in sleep mode. A remote control is a handy and fairly common feature, but one often overlooked. Forget to change filters? Well, there are window AC units with filter reminders that will help keep your system running efficiently and running smoothly.
BTU is critical as well, considering you don’t want to end up with an oversized or underwhelming window air conditioning system. If you want to learn about BTU and get other helpful tips that will make your decision easier, check out our guide to the best window air conditioners.