Thunderstorms are nothing new to anyone living in the Tampa Bay area. This region was dubbed “Lightning Alley” because of its electrical storm blitzes. Although Florida is nicknamed the “Sunshine State,” it endures about 3,500 cloud-to-ground lightning jolts a day.
This is not good news for your air conditioner. Thunderstorms create power surges, which are quick electrical voltage spikes. These spikes can trip the AC’s circuit breaker by pushing the unit too hard. Conditions other than storms can also interrupt the flow of power to your AC. No matter what caused this malfunction, you’ll need to know how to reset your AC.
Progressive Air Systems is headquartered in the heart of Florida’s lightning zone, so we’re familiar with the havoc that storms can wreak. Before we help you learn how to reset your AC, we’d like you to know about some of the things that cause electrical surges.
What Causes a Power Surge?
Appliances use power that safely fluctuates between zero to 169 volts. A power surge spikes the voltage far beyond that. A surge lasts less than a second and can carry tens of thousands of volts. Your AC unit isn’t equipped to handle this much power and could shut down. There are several things that could cause a surge:
• Lightning — Lightning is the most feared cause of power surges. A strike within a mile of your home could send up to 200,000 amps (units of electrical current) through your 20-amp wiring. Although lightning strikes aren’t the most common cause of power surges, they’re the worst.
• Downed power lines — When a storm brings down power lines, this tampers with the electrical circuits and causes surges. Voltage may radically seesaw until it completely cuts off your AC’s power supply.
• Power outages — It seems contradictory, but a power outage can actually cause a power surge. The tidal wave of energy needed to reactivate power for a whole neighborhood can force excess energy through the lines.
• Bad wiring — Outdated house wiring can create uneven voltage that can affect your AC when you turn it on. Wiring that mice and squirrels have binged on can also cause power surges because the electricity isn’t flowing through them the way it should.
• High-powered appliances — More than 50 percent of household power surges originate within the home. Major appliances such as ACs require substantial power to turn on and off, potentially overloading the system and causing a power spike.
• Overloaded outlets — Tangles of electrical cords clumped under your desk or television set are ripe for energy spikes. An energy surge may happen when too many appliances are plugged into the same outlet.
If any of these issues create a power surge that prevents your AC from coming on, you’ll need to reset it. Here are Progressive Air Systems step-by-step instructions about how do to this:
Resetting a Central AC System
• Set your thermostat to “off.” This will prevent it from trying to start the AC. Since some systems run on batteries, you may simply need to replace the batteries.
• If batteries aren’t the issue, find your circuit box (usually a gray metallic box). The circuit box is typically located in the:
— Laundry room
— Outside of the house
• Open the breaker box and locate the circuit that has an “air conditioner/HVAC” label next to it.
• If there’s no label, look for the “tripped” switch (the one in neutral position).
• Reset the breaker by turning the switch to the “off” position (right) and then the “on” position (left).
• Wait 30 minutes so that your AC has time to reset its internal circuit breaker.
• After half an hour, set your thermostat to “cool,” making sure you set it at least five degrees below room temperature.
Resetting a Window-Mounted AC
• Turn your window-mounted AC off and unplug it. Wait 10 minutes so that all the power can leave its capacitors.
• Plug the power cord back in and turn the unit on.
• Turn the cooling knob down until the compressor engages.
• If the compressor engages, then unplugging it and plugging it in again are all you need to do.
• If the compressor doesn’t engage, then you’ll have to reset by pressing the reset button by the power cord for five seconds and then releasing.
• Wait 10 minutes so that the AC can reset.
• Turn the AC cooling dial down so that the compressor can engage.
Now that your AC has been reset, sit back and enjoy the refreshing cold air. However, if the unit still won’t work and its breaker keeps tripping, there may be a more serious problem. Your air conditioner probably requires professional servicing.
You can depend upon award-winning Progressive Air Systems for expert AC repair. Call us today and we’ll quickly diagnose your AC’s malfunction and find a solution.