Understanding Why Your Power Goes Out as the AC Kicks In

Woman experiencing issues with her home air conditioner.

Experiencing a power outage when your air conditioner (AC) turns on can be both puzzling and frustrating, especially during hot summer days. This issue, often phrased as “power went out and AC not working” or “power went out AC not working,” is more common than you might think. Let’s dive into the reasons behind this phenomenon and explore solutions to keep your cool and lights on.

The Heart of the Matter: Why Does Your AC Trip the Power?

The “power went out AC not working” scenario is a hot-weather nightmare: the air conditioner suddenly stops working, and there’s no way to fix it. If you want to fix the problem and make sure your air conditioner keeps working properly, you need to understand what’s causing it. Overloaded circuits, short-circuiting, malfunctioning capacitors, aging electrical systems, and ground faults are some of the most prevalent causes of AC-related power tripping.

Overloaded Circuits

Overloaded electrical circuits are a common cause of power outages when using an air conditioner. To get them going and keep them running, air conditioners eat through a lot of power. It is possible for a power outage to occur if many high-energy appliances or devices are being used on the same circuit at the same time. To avoid this, you should be familiar with your electrical circuit’s load capacity and strategically place your high-energy equipment.

Short Circuiting

A short circuit within your AC unit might potentially lead to a sudden power outage. This happens when cables are broken or exposed, causing electricity to take a shorter, unplanned route. There is no barrier to the passage of electricity between the two wires, therefore an overload occurs and the circuit breaker or fuse blows. Short-circuiting problems in your air conditioner’s wiring can be found and fixed before they cause any outages by performing routine maintenance and inspections.

Faulty Capacitor

The air conditioner’s capacitor is essential because it supplies the initial surge of electricity needed to start the compressor and fan motors. An electrical imbalance might occur if the capacitor is defective or cannot supply the required power. A circuit trip may result from this imbalance, rendering your air conditioner inoperable. Maintenance on your air conditioner should always include checking the capacitor and even replacing it if necessary.

Aged Electrical System

The power requirements of modern air conditioners may exceed the capabilities of older homes’ electrical systems. Newer AC units are more efficient and use less power because the technology has improved. However, older homes may still have wiring and electrical panels that aren’t up to par with today’s standards and have trouble handling the additional load. If this keeps happening, you may need to upgrade your electrical system or speak with an electrician.

Ground Fault

Similar to a short circuit, a ground fault occurs when an electrical current unexpectedly finds an unwanted path to the ground. This can occur when there is water present, the insulation is broken, or when other conductive materials are present. Because of the disruption in electrical current caused by a ground fault, your air conditioner may shut off. Ground faults can be avoided by routinely checking the area around your air conditioner for signs of water leaks or damaged insulation.

Preventive Measures and Solutions

Circuit Evaluation

Checking the condition of your home’s electrical circuits is an important first step in avoiding interruptions to your AC power. A professional electrician should conduct this inspection to guarantee safety and conformity with all applicable codes.

Be sure you use a separate circuit for your air conditioner. This ensures that the air conditioner is not competing for power with other high-draw devices. When a circuit is overloaded, the breaker trips and the electricity goes off.

Preventive MeasureDescription
Hire a certified electricianEnsure a professional assesses your circuits
Dedicated circuitIsolate your AC on a separate electrical circuit

Regular Maintenance

Preventing power disruptions and maximizing your air conditioner’s lifespan both require regular maintenance. Short circuits and ground faults are only two of the problems that might arise from a lack of maintenance. Keep up with the following upkeep recommendations:

  • Cleaning: Overheating and electrical issues can be avoided by keeping the air conditioner’s filters, coils, and vents clean;
  • Inspect Wiring: Look for evidence of wear, corrosion, and loose connections in the wiring. Electrical failures can be caused by faulty wiring.

Upgrading Your Electrical System for Improved AC Performance

Older homes frequently feature electrical systems that have not seen updates in quite some time. Addressing the “power went out AC not working” problem can be effectively tackled by upgrading your electrical panel and circuits. Here’s the information you need to take the necessary steps:

  • Consult a Professional: To begin the process of upgrading your electrical system, it’s crucial to reach out to a certified electrician. An expert in electrical systems will conduct a thorough inspection of your home’s current electrical setup and recommend any essential upgrades. Their expertise will ensure that the upgrades are tailored to your specific needs and meet all safety standards;
  • Panel Upgrade: The electrical load requirements of modern air conditioners can often exceed the capacity of older electrical circuits and panels. To accommodate these higher demands and prevent power interruptions, it may be necessary to upgrade to a more robust electrical panel. A more powerful panel can effectively handle the increased load without tripping circuits, ensuring that your AC operates smoothly even during peak demand.

Install a Surge Protector

Lightning strikes and other voltage fluctuations can cause serious problems for your air conditioner and other electrical appliances.

Preventive MeasureDescription
Surge ProtectorSafeguard your AC and other appliances from power surges

Troubleshooting Tips

If your air conditioner breaks down during a blackout, you can attempt fixing it yourself before calling a repairman. Here are the measures to take:

Reset the Circuit Breaker

If the electricity suddenly goes out when you put on the air conditioner, the breaker may have been tripped. Just do what I say:

  • Find the panel that houses the breaker boxes;
  • Locate the circuit breaker that controls the air conditioner;
  • Move the switch to the “on” position if it is currently in the “off” position.

Inspect Your AC Unit

Problems with your air conditioner may be visible to the naked eye. Keep an eye out for these deterioration or wear indicators:

  • Wiring that is frayed or broken;
  • Damage from fire or melting parts;
  • The air conditioner produces strange noises or smells.

A professional HVAC expert should be contacted promptly if any of these problems are observed.

Unplug Other Appliances

After inspecting the AC unit and verifying the circuit breaker, if the problem of a non-working air conditioner after a power outage remains, you could try disconnecting other high-energy devices from the same circuit. This can assist identify if an overload is the cause of the problem.


The “power went out and AC not working” or “power went out AC not working” issue is usually a sign of an electrical system strain. Addressing it promptly and effectively is key to maintaining both your comfort and safety. Remember, when in doubt, consult a professional to ensure your electrical systems and AC unit are in harmony.


Q: What should I do immediately when the power goes out as my AC turns on?

A: First, turn off your AC. Check your circuit breaker and reset it if it has tripped. If the problem continues, contact a professional.

Q: Can a power outage damage my AC?

A: Sudden power outages can potentially harm your AC, especially if they are frequent. Using a surge protector can minimize this risk.

Q: Is it safe to reset the circuit breaker on my own when the power goes out?

A: Yes, it’s generally safe. However, if you notice that the breaker trips repeatedly, it’s time to call an electrician.

Q: How often should I have my AC serviced to prevent the ‘power went out AC not working’ issue?

A: It’s recommended to service your AC annually to ensure it’s running efficiently and safely.

Q: Can installing a newer AC model solve the power outage issue?

A: Newer AC models are often more energy-efficient and might reduce the load on your electrical system, potentially solving the “power went out AC not working” problem.

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