If your air conditioner isn’t turning on, even after you’ve checked that it has power, you may have a stuck relay. A stuck relay can quickly cause your AC unit to break down, especially in the scorching heat. In this article, we will guide you on how to fix a stuck relay on your AC unit in Arlington, TX.
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What is a Relay and What Does it Do in an AC Unit?
A relay is essentially a switch that controls the flow of electricity to your air conditioner. It allows you to turn the AC motor on and off, providing you with cool air when you need it. Your central AC, heat pump, and furnace all use an AC contactor or relay.
When you turn on the air conditioner, the relay closes and allows electricity to flow to the unit. Similarly, when you turn off the air conditioner, the relay opens and interrupts the circuit, preventing electricity from flowing to the AC. The relay is typically located in the outdoor unit of your HVAC system and has three wires connected to it: an input wire from the control board, a power feed wire to the AC compressor clutch, and a ground wire.
The relay plays a significant role in the energy efficiency of your air conditioner, depending on its type and how well you’ve maintained your HVAC unit. If the relay gets stuck in one position, it can prevent the AC from turning on or cause it to turn off unexpectedly, as the AC fan and blower motor won’t receive the necessary power to operate. Although a faulty relay is the primary cause of electrical power issues in HVAC units, other factors could potentially be at play, such as a problem with the electronic control board or a damaged blower fan.
How Do You Know if Your Relay is Stuck and Needs to be Fixed?
With so many possible causes of AC system problems, how can you determine if you have a stuck relay? Look out for the following signs of relay failure:
- The air conditioner doesn’t turn on when you try to use it.
- The air conditioner turns off unexpectedly.
- You hear a clicking noise coming from the air conditioner.
- Visible damage or debris on the relay.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s a good idea to test the relay with a multimeter for additional reassurance before moving on to the diagnostic stage. Keep in mind that a stuck relay will not start working properly again on its own. It will require repair or replacement. While we encourage homeowners to learn about their HVAC systems, it is recommended to hire a professional air conditioner repair company, especially when dealing with relays that involve your home’s electricity. Avoid putting yourself through an unnecessarily shocking and unsafe experience.
How to Fix a Stuck Relay on Your AC Unit
There are a few ways that HVAC technicians in Arlington, TX fix stuck relays:
If you choose to repair your air conditioner relay yourself (which is not recommended), always turn off power to the unit at the circuit breaker before starting work.
1. Clean the Relay
If the relay contacts become dirty, they can get stuck. Relays can attract dirt, dust, organic material, and other debris from the air outside. To clean the relay, follow these steps:
- Remove the relay and gently clean the connectors using alcohol or vinegar and a rag.
- To avoid damaging the wires, apply masking tape over them before cleaning.
- Do not oversaturate the relay with alcohol and ensure all remaining alcohol is thoroughly rinsed off.
- Allow the relay to dry completely before replacing it.
2. Replace the Relay
If cleaning the relay doesn’t solve the problem or if you notice a damaged thermostat wire, you may need to replace the entire component. Follow these steps:
- Purchase the exact replacement relay designed for your AC unit.
- Once you have the new part, remove the old relay from its position.
- Replace it with the new relay, ensuring it is positioned correctly.
- If necessary, use a screwdriver to remove any screws holding the old relay in place.
For more information on troubleshooting your HVAC relay, you can watch the following video here.
If you have a stuck relay on your AC unit, consider contacting All Masters for air conditioning repair in Arlington, TX today!
Tips for Preventing Your Relay from Becoming Stuck in the First Place
Prevention is key to avoiding a stuck relay in your air conditioner unit. Follow these simple tips to prevent the problem from occurring:
1. Use Your Air Conditioner Sparingly
Excessive use of your air conditioner can cause the relay to get stuck. Air conditioners generate heat when in use, and too much heat can cause the relay material to melt and stick together. To prevent this issue:
- Use your air conditioner only when necessary.
- Consider investing in a programmable thermostat or smart thermostat to automate the AC and minimize human error.
2. Keep the Outside Unit Clean
While it’s impossible to prevent all debris from entering your outside unit, you can take steps to keep the area around it clean. Additionally, make sure to:
- Clean the coils in your outside unit regularly.
- Replace your HVAC system’s air filter as part of your annual or seasonal maintenance routine.
Keeping the coils clean will also prevent the relay from getting dirty.
Contact All Masters Plumbing for HVAC Repair in Arlington, TX
If your air conditioner isn’t working properly or you suspect a stuck relay, don’t hesitate to call All Masters Plumbing. We are a professional HVAC and AC repair company serving Arlington, TX, and the entire DFW area. Our team can examine your air conditioner and provide you with an estimate for the necessary repairs.
Additional HVAC and plumbing services we offer in Arlington include:
- HVAC repair
- HVAC replacement
- HVAC installation
- Indoor air quality
- Drain cleaning
- Slab leak repair
- Gas line repair
If you’re unsure if we can assist you, we provide repairs in various service areas. For more information, visit our website.
FAQs About Relays and AC Units
What is a relay?
A relay is a switch that controls the flow of electricity to the air conditioner. It is responsible for turning the air conditioner on and off.
What does a stuck relay do?
A stuck relay can prevent the air conditioner from turning on or cause it to turn off unexpectedly.
Can I clean my own coils?
Yes, you can clean your own coils, but we recommend calling a professional HVAC repair company to do it for you.