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When summer’s just around the corner, you want to ensure that your air conditioning is operating at peak performance. A good air conditioner can keep the temperature comfortable while it improves air quality. As the thermometer creeps higher and you turn on your system, the last thing you want is not to feel that cool breeze coming through the vents. If you turn your system on and the AC fan is not spinning, there are a few troubleshooting tips that you should know before you give up. Even if you end up having to call a contractor for help, you may be able to give them a head start and get your system working sooner.

ac fan not spinning

The First Thing You Should Check

Without exception, the first thing that you should check is that the unit is receiving power. First, investigate the thermostat. If you have a modern, digital thermostat, then you can tell that it has power simply by the lighted screen. If your unit uses an analog thermostat or one without a digital readout, it may not be so obvious. If the thermostat has power or you can’t tell, then you should go to the compressor unit. For most central AC units, the compressor is outside and makes a lot of noise when it’s working. If you have a box split or an attic-based unit, the compressor may be located inside, so listen for it there.


When You Hear the Compressor But the AC Fan Is Not Spinning

Assuming that you hear the compressor working but still the AC fan is not spinning, you may have one of several problems:

Your fan motor is busted.

A defective motor will prevent the fan from functioning even if everything else in the system is working correctly. Unfortunately, the only effective solution to this problem is to bring in a technician to remove the faulty equipment and replace it with a new fan motor. Fortunately, fan motors are not the most expensive parts, so you’ll spend far less money than you would if you had to replace the entire air conditioning unit.


Your start capacitor is bad.


Similar to a broken motor, the start capacitor will prevent the fan from working. However, it is a less expensive component than the motor itself, and you can diagnose the issue without a technician. Try using a stick or rod to get the fan spinning manually. Make sure that you don’t use your fingers for this; otherwise, you risk the fan turning on with your hand in the way. If the fan picks up after you spin it, the capacitor needs replacement, but you can enjoy a few hours of cool air while you wait for the technician to arrive.

These issues tend to be the simplest to resolve, but both require a technician to fix your AC unit permanently. Next, we’ll examine some other potential reasons why your fan may be malfunctioning.


When You Don’t Hear the Compressor Working at All

The second category of AC unit issues consists of those related to compressor functionality. When you listen for activity but don’t hear the compressor working, you may have one of the following problems:

  • The circuit breaker has tripped.
    Many things can trip one of your circuit breakers, and after that happens, no power goes to any devices hooked up to that circuit. Whether the breaker was tripped due to a storm, multiple devices plugged into the same circuit, or an aging breaker, you may be able to restore functionality by resetting the breaker. If it trips again immediately, contact your electrician to address the wiring. Faulty wiring may be a fire hazard, so don’t try to work around the issue without qualified assistance.
  • The compressor contactor is defective.
    The compressor contactor is the device that gets power to the compressor. Without this device functioning correctly, your compressor won’t turn on, and the AC unit won’t work at all. If all the electrical wiring seems to be correct and you don’t hear anything happening with the compressor while the unit is turned on, the problem is likely the contactor, which needs a replacement. Similar to the fan parts mentioned above, you will need an HVAC contractor to help you replace that part.

Once you’ve narrowed the issue down to one of these four culprits, you know that you need help from a qualified professional. So, where should you go to find that help?


The Best Resources When Your AC Fan Is Not Spinning

If you randomly call the first contractor you hear about; you have no guarantees regarding their work quality and pricing structure. You can avoid unscrupulous contractors from price gouging you by doing a little research in advance. We recommend searching for a licensed contractor who freely provides customer reviews and has a positive ranking on review sites such as Yelp! If you have a good experience with a reputable contractor once, then you should be able to rely on them in the future to keep your AC running as it should. We recommend securing a maintenance contract to ensure that you prevent as many issues as possible.