A central AC system consists of indoor and outdoor units. An indoor air handler can continue running when the outside unit has shut down. While air will blow from the vents, it won’t be cooled; it may be as warm as the summer air outside. At first, this may not make sense, but we’ll explain why you may have air blowing inside but the outside unit is not running.

The outside unit contains the compressor. When it stops running, the system won’t cool the indoor evaporator coils, which can cause many issues if not corrected. 

The reasons for the outside unit not running, while the indoor air handlers stay on, include:

A Faulty Capacitor

If a capacitor, which stores energy to power the outdoor fan, stops working, the unit may shut down. A capacitor can start and run the fan (a start/run capacitor); some systems have dual capacitors to run the fans and compressor. Time can take a toll on capacitors because high voltage, temperature extremes, and power surges can damage them. Energy storage capabilities can also decrease over time. 

When an AC keeps running with a bad capacitor, the fan motor can burn out or the compressor can overheat. Therefore, failing to repair it can result in additional damage.

Burnt Out Motor

The fan motor can burn out due to wear and tear or excess strain on the system. Proper maintenance can help reduce the risk of fan motor failure. But when the motor does fail, the outdoor unit can stop running without affecting the indoor units, although waiting to fix the problem can lead to additional repairs and higher expenses.

A Contactor Isn’t Working

The outdoor fan can stop if the contactor isn’t working properly. This component controls the fan motor. It may not be a big part, but attempting to fix it yourself can cause more harm than good. A trained technician knows how to isolate the problem and determine if the contractor needs to be replaced. This is generally a quick, simple job for a professional.

Lack of Power to the Outdoor Unit

If only the outdoor unit loses power, air may still blow from the vents. Check if a switch was accidentally turned off; if so, simply flip it back on. It’s also possible a breaker to the outdoor unit circuit has tripped. Reset it to see if the unit starts running. Otherwise, call a specialist. They can inspect your HVAC system and find/fix problems that aren’t easy to spot by an untrained eye.

Malfunctioning or Failed Compressor

This is an issue no air conditioner owner wants to have. The compressor is part of the outdoor unit. If it stops compressing refrigerant, you won’t get cold air whether the outdoor fan keeps running or not. Replacing the compressor is essentially the most expensive AC repair. Consult with your technician to determine whether repairing or replacing the unit is the best option.

Dirt and Debris in the Fan Axle

Not every reason for the outdoor unit not running involves major damage and repairs. If debris gets into the fan axle, it can reach the engine’s bearings and stop the fan from turning. Any obstructions found should be removed by a professional. They’ll carefully remove any debris and inspect the system for any other issues.

Contact Tri County Air to Address the Cause of the Problem

At Tri County Air, our AC repair professionals can fix any issue with any make or model. Whether the indoor or outdoor unit stops working, we’re available 24 hours a day to provide emergency assistance. Our mission is to ensure customer satisfaction and that your Florida home remains cool and comfortable. Call 941 485-2222 or contact us online for air conditioner repair and other HVAC services in Sarasota, Manatee, and Charlotte Counties.