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Your commercial air conditioner is a complex system that requires a perfect combination of airflow, temperature, and pressure to work correctly. This means that there may be more than one reason why it won’t turn on. The following are six major causes of commercial air conditioner breakdowns.

1. Electrical Problems

If your commercial air conditioner won’t turn on, it may be because of a faulty fuse or circuit breaker, or something may be wrong with the electrical wiring.

  • What you can do: Turn off your AC and let it cool down. Reset the breaker and/or replace the fuse. 

If the above doesn’t fix the issue, there’s possibly a tripped high-pressure limit switch, or your air conditioner is incorrectly wired. If the circuit breaker continues to trip multiple times, do not keep switching it back on. The circuit may be overloading, and switching it on may result in an electrical fire. You should call an electrician immediately.

2. Refrigerant Leakage

Your air conditioner’s refrigerant may leak due to the following reasons.

  • Formic acid buildup or formaldehyde exposure can cause your refrigerant to leak.
  • With wear and tear over time, acid can accumulate and eventually burn a hole through your unit’s copper tubing or coils, causing a change in pressure and a leak. If your air conditioner does not reach a sufficient pressure level, then this may be why it won’t turn on.

Note: A refrigerant leak should be taken seriously, as it could result in refrigerant poisoning. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only authorizes certified technicians to purchase specific kinds of refrigerant. Therefore, you’ll need the services of an accredited HVAC professional.

3. Overtaxed System

Commercial air conditioners have a limited cooling capacity. If you run your AC continuously on hot days, an additional strain is placed on your unit. Also, it doesn’t help if your AC is not the proper size for your facility. An overtaxed air conditioner is at risk of breaking down, especially in areas, such as the compressor, capacitor, or blower motor.

The capacitor is an integral part of your HVAC system. It forms part of the motor’s circuit and gives the motor an initial push to begin running. The capacitor then disconnects from the circuit once the motor reaches a specific speed.

Your AC’s capacitor is heat sensitive and may overheat if your AC is working too hard to achieve the desired temperature. Power fluctuations and outages can also cause significant damage to the capacitor. 

  • What you can do: Regular maintenance will help detect capacitor problems early. 

Note: If you suspect you have a capacitor problem, don’t try to run your air conditioner. A faulty capacitor can burn the motor attached to it, and replacing the motor can be expensive. If the capacitor needs to be replaced, you need to call a professional.

4. Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat represents the way you communicate with your air conditioner. Therefore, if the thermostat is not functioning properly, your air conditioner cannot be instructed to turn itself on. 

Thermostats also help control the amount of air being circulated within your facility. If a thermostat is not calibrated correctly, your air conditioner is forced to work harder than necessary. This may send your unit into overdrive and cause it to break down.

  • What you can do: If your thermostat shows a blank display, try switching it on. If nothing happens, you could have dead batteries, so the next step is to replace the batteries with fresh ones. 

If your thermostat still doesn’t turn on, you need to call a professional technician. There could be an electrical problem with your thermostat, and you might need a new one.

5. Moisture and Corrosion

Moisture and dirt inside your AC unit can result in corrosion, which is bad news for electrical components. When your air conditioner is cooling, moisture should drain away from its interior via a drain line. However, if the drain line is clogged or your unit is running with ice on its coils, then moisture can collect and begin to cause severe problems.

Your air conditioner needs a path for warm air to travel so that it can reach the cold coils that cool the air. If this pathway is blocked for some reason, then the coils may freeze because there is no (or insufficient) warm air passing over them. 

  • What you can do: Prevent these problems with regular cleanings by an HVAC technician. Also, it’s important to change your filter(s) on a regular basis.

6. Poor Maintenance

Poor maintenance is a common cause of air conditioner breakdowns. As with any mechanical system, your commercial AC has several parts that can wear out over time and accumulate dirt. If your unit is not regularly checked and cleaned, these issues can become more severe, leading to a complete breakdown of your system. 

  • What you can do: Prevent most of the causes of commercial air conditioner breakdowns by keeping your unit up to date with its regular maintenance.

Design Mechanical is a full-service commercial HVAC contractor that provides services in Kansas City and the nearby areas. If your commercial air conditioner won’t turn on and you have been unable to fix it, please seek help from one of our friendly HVAC technicians.

We are available 24/7 to get your unit back up and running so that your business suffers the least amount of disruption. It doesn’t matter when your AC goes out—we’ll be there to help no matter the time of day! Give us a call at (913) 281-7200 if you need assistance.