Central air conditioning units rely on electrical energy to operate. Electricity powers mechanical components, such as the compressor, evaporator fan, and condenser fan. Therefore, if your air conditioner has electrical issues, it won't work optimally. Electrical problems can also lead to fires in the home. Therefore, look out for these three signs indicating your central AC has electrical issues that require immediate attention.
Air Conditioner Tripping Its Breaker
Air conditioners have a circuit breaker that interrupts the electrical flow to the unit when it senses a fault, such as a short circuit. A short circuit is a low-resistance connection that occurs when current flows through an unintended route. Below are the common causes of a short circuit in an air conditioner.
- Moisture: Moisture increases the current in a circuit, leading to a low-resistance connection. Therefore, if your unit has exposed electrical wires, they can cause a short circuit if they come into contact with water.
- Loose wiring: Loose wires in your air conditioner can cause inconsistent electricity flow, leading to a short circuit.
- Damaged wiring: If your AC wiring has worn insulation due to wear and tear or pest damage, the live and neutral wires can come into contact with each other, causing a faulty connection.
Short circuits cause the wiring to overheat, which can trigger sparks or a fire. Therefore, do not reset the tripped breaker without addressing the underlying electrical problem.
AC Turns On and Off Unexpectedly
Does your central air conditioner cycle on and off unexpectedly? If so, this could be due to an electrical fault in the compressor motors. The compressor motors power the unit and pressurize the refrigerant to facilitate cooling. They also power the condenser fan that dissipates heat outdoors. If a motor has a bad capacitor, the motor will experience voltage spikes, causing the AC to shut down prematurely.
If your AC is low on refrigerant, the compressor motors will overheat and turn off intermittently. Overheating degrades the insulation on the motors, allowing contact between the conductors. This causes low resistance and increases the risk of short circuits and motor failure. You must replace the damaged motor components to solve the electrical issues in the outdoor unit.
Strange Smells and Sounds in the Outdoor Unit
A burning smell or an unusual buzzing sound in your outdoor unit indicates an electrical fault, such as a short circuit. Once an AC short-circuits, the wiring overheats, causing the plastic insulation to burn and smell. You may also hear buzzing or sparking sounds in the faulty electrical wiring. If this happens, turn off the unit immediately to prevent an electrical hazard.
Do not ignore electrical faults in your AC, as they can cause a fire hazard or damage crucial components in the system. Contact a service provider like Steve Hoskins HVAC to learn more.