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Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -

Serving Orange County

- SINCE 1981 -


Hours: Monday-Friday 7:30-5:30PM
Saturday: 8:00-1:00PM


Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air Blog

Electrical Failures in Your AC System


An air conditioning system is an electrical device. This probably isn’t news to you, because you know that your electrical bills rise during the summer as the air conditioner starts to put in more work. You may not realize just how much electricity an AC uses, however. It’s one of the highest consumers of electricity in most households, consuming 3,500 watts per hour on average. (For comparison, the air conditioner in “fan only” mode consumes 750 watts per hour). Only an electric water heater has a higher average electrical usage, and you may not even have one of those.

So you can understand why electrical failures in an air conditioning system are among the most common a unit can face. We’ll look at several of the electrical malfunctions from your AC that may lead to you calling us for air conditioning service in Orange County, CA in the future.

Overloaded motors

An air conditioning system uses several powerful motors to run. The ones that draw on the most electricity are the compressor motor (in the condenser), the exhaust fan motor (also in the condenser), and the blower fan motor (located indoors).

These parts require regular maintenance to keep them clean and well lubricated. Excess strain on them will force them to put too much electrical strain on the AC’s circuit, leading to the circuit breaker tripping. Eventually, the heat from the motors will cause their electrical wiring to fuse to the housing, i.e. burn out, and need replacement.

Wiring trouble

Any electrical system that has wires—and that’s most of them—can suffer from problems when wires fray, disconnect, or corrode with age. The main wiring for an air conditioning system is in its control board, which operates all the other components.

We always check the condition of the wires during maintenance to help avoid problems that can end up shutting down the AC system. If your air conditioner has loose connections, our technicians can usually solve the problem by locating them and tightening them. In more serious situations, we may need to replace the control board.

Dirty or broken relays

An AC that won’t start or which won’t stop may be the fault of dirty or broken motor relays. A relay can become stuck in one position, which will either lead to continual operation or no operation at all.

Compressor concerns

The compressor is the reason an AC draws on so much electricity. It’s therefore often the source of electrical problems. When a compressor motor burns out, the compressor will need a full replacement. For an older AC that’s no longer under warranty, this usually means the whole AC must be replaced.

A compressor can draw on either too much or too little electricity. If you hear strange noises from the condenser cabinet or the AC has trouble starting, please call for technicians to check out the compressor and see if it can be rescued.

Please don’t attempt to tamper with any electrical part of your AC! Only professional technicians can do this work correctly and safely.

Saddleback Plumbing Heating & Air has served Orange County since 1981. Call us whenever you need AC repair work.

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