6 Steps to Fix an Air Conditioner That is Not Turning On

Are you waiting for cool air to come out of your vents, but your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be turning on? Your first reaction might be to call us or another Manhattan HVAC company to get it fixed ASAP. While you can definitely call us for a quick repair on a broken air conditioner, you might want to first see if it’s something you can fix yourself.

AC Won’t Turn On: When to Fix It Yourself

Photo of American Standard air conditioner unit in Manhattan, KSThere are several reasons why an air conditioner might not be turning on. While a trained HVAC technician will know how to handle whatever problem there is, many air conditioning issues are easy to spot and handle by almost anyone!

Sometimes our technicians are called out for problems that end up being simple enough for the homeowners to handle on their own.

While we’re always happy to come out and fix whatever AC problem you have, we want you to know about some of the smaller problems that don’t always require professional AC repair. After all, if it’s something you can fix on your own, you will save time and money!

When you realize your AC is not turning on, go through this 7-step checklist of potential problems. Some of these repairs are simple and can be done in a matter of minutes.

The 7 Step Checklist to Repairing a Broken AC

STEP 1: Check for a dirty air filter

Even if you think it’s not time to change your filter, pull it out and give it a good look (an air filter can get dirty faster than you probably realize). A dirty filter blocks proper airflow. It could even be clogged so much that it is stopping your AC from turning on.

If it is dirty, you may need to reevaluate how often you regularly change it. Each homeowner has different air filtration needs. Changing a filter only once every few months may not be enough for you, especially if you suffer from allergies or have pets.

STEP 2: Check your thermostat setting

Make sure your thermostat is set to COOL and is at least 5 degrees below the ambient temperature.

If your thermostat screen is blank, you may simply need to replace the batteries. For many thermostats, there is an area on the edge with the word PRESS. Just press that to remove the battery compartment. Some thermostats have a cover you will need to pull off to access the batteries.

If you are having problems with your thermostat or want to upgrade it, contact Standard for our thermostat options and services.

STEP 3: Check that your power is on

Infographic explaining basic steps to resetting a tripped circuit breakerSometimes the power can go off without it being immediately apparent, especially if it’s the middle of the day. If your power is off, a breaker may have gotten tripped.

Some people are hesitant to deal with any electrical problem. However, checking your breaker box and handling a flipped circuit is something that is good for homeowners to know how to do themselves.


    1. Look for a switch that’s in the center position.
    2. Flip that switch to off then back to on.
    3. Wait for the power to return. If it doesn’t, or if the switch does not stay on, call a professional electrician.

STEP 4: Check if the AC power was turned off

This is a different issue than checking your home’s entire power situation. Look for a switch on or near the furnace and make sure it is in the ON position. It looks exactly like a light switch. It can be turned off by mistake by someone who didn’t realize what that switch was for. When it’s off, the furnace blower is off, and this can cause the inside unit to freeze.

STEP 5: Check for ice on your outside unit

If you see that there is ice covering your air conditioner, turn the AC off at the thermostat and turn the FAN to on. Give it time to defrost. Don’t use any sort of blower or heating device to speed up thawing and do not try to scrape the ice off.

If a frozen AC was your problem and this step gets your air conditioning back up and running, you should call an AC repair technician to come inspect your unit. A frozen condenser unit may mean you have a refrigerant leak which can be a danger to you and your family.

Open AC dirty with dirt and leaves and needing to be cleaned

STEP 6: Check for a dirty AC unit

If you see that your air conditioner is covered in dirt, pollen or other debris then it’s time to clean it. This is particularly true for us here in Kansas. Every spring we face a problem with white clumps that fall from cottonwood trees. Those seeds can really clog up the coils on your AC unit.

Before cleaning your air conditioner, turn it off at the outside service disconnect panel. You will need to remove the top and any other outer caging and take out the fan. With a garden hose, spray from the inside out all around the inside of the unit. Then spray the exterior of the unit.

Standard provides professional air conditioner cleaning and maintenance service. Call us at (785) 776-5012 if you want to let us handle your AC maintenance needs.

STEP 7: Check the condensate drain line for a clog

This one may be seem complicated, but it is a task that many homeowners will find they can handle themselves. The condensate drain line takes the water that is created by condensation from the AC unit to drain outside the home. A clogged drain line might trip a safety switch that shuts down your cooling system. You can try unclogging this line by using a wet-dry vacuum to suction the blockage out.

When in Doubt, Call on Standard!

Standard Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning has 24/7 emergency AC repair service in Manhattan, KS Standard Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning has worked on thousands of air conditioners and other cooling systems across the Manhattan, KS area. Our AC repair technicians have years of experience fixing broken cooling systems and have seen all types of AC problems. Schedule service with our HVAC repair team to fix whatever is causing your air conditioner to not turn on.

Call Standard Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning– available 24/7 – at (785) 776-5012.

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