Why is My Air Conditioner Fan Not Working? | Carrier (2023)

Modern air conditioning... it’s a wonderful thing in the heat of summer when you can go inside and feel the relief from a hot, sticky summer day. That’s why it’s so upsetting to crank up your AC only to find the air conditioner fan not working, and the temperature in your home rising. But before you totally lose your cool, take a few minutes to troubleshoot and see if it’s a problem you can fix or if it’s time to call your local Carrier HVAC expert for professional air conditioner service.

First, you’ll need to know where to look. Assuming you have a standard split-system central air conditioner, there are actually two main fans – one inside your home and one outside. The indoor fan, or “blower” as it is often called, is housed inside your furnace or air handler unit. It is responsible for blowing cold air out to your living areas, and pulling return air back into the system to be cooled by the evaporator coil. The outdoor fan, also called the condenser fan, is found in the outdoor unit. It is responsible for pulling air through the outdoor condenser coils to help remove heat from your home. If either of these fans quits operating, be sure to get the issue resolved to help prevent more serious – and expensive – issues down the road for your cooling system.

(Video) How to fix your AC: fan not spinning

Reasons the Central Air Conditioner Fan Is Not Working

Before you just assume it’s a bad fan, spend a few minutes determining whether other issues within your air conditioning system may be causing the problem. Your central air conditioner is a complex system with many components, and there are several issues that could be the reason your AC fan is not working.

Why is My Air Conditioner Fan Not Working? | Carrier (1)

Check Your Thermostat

Start by checking your thermostat. If the system is on, but set for heating instead of cooling, the system likely won’t operate. Switch it back to either cooling or auto mode (automatically switches between heating and cooling), and check that an appropriate cooling temperature is selected. According the Department of Energy, 78⁰F is a good setting for both comfort and energy efficiency when you are home.

If you have a programmable thermostat, check to be sure your comfort schedule is properly set for cooling at the time you are having the issue, and make adjustments if necessary.

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Circuit Breaker is Tripped

If you are satisfied that the thermostat settings are correct, check your power supply. Your AC system runs on electricity, and there are typically three locations you can check to be sure the issue isn’t with power to the system. First, locate your main breaker box panel and make sure the AC system circuit breaker hasn’t been tripped. The outdoor unit typically takes 220v power to operate and should be on its own circuit. If that isn’t the issue, there is a power switch typically located on the air handler unit (furnace or fan coil) inside your home that looks similar to a light switch. It should be in the “on” position. If that’s not the issue, step outside and check the power disconnect for the outdoor unit. It is usually located in a separate box, usually mounted on the home near the outdoor unit. Make sure it is in the “on” position as well. If a fuse in this box is blown, that means it’s time to call your Carrier dealer for professional assistance.

If the issue is a tripped circuit breaker, keep in mind that it could have been caused by a power surge of some kind, possibly weather related. If the system continues to trip the circuit breaker, shut it down and call a professional HVAC technician.

Air Filter is Blocked

Another common and easily remedied situation that sometimes results in a central air conditioner fan not working is a dirty, clogged air filter. Your system’s air filter traps dust, dirt and other airborne pollutants to keep indoor air and internal cooling system components cleaner. If it’s not cleaned or replaced regularly, a clogged air filter can restrict air flow to the point that it feels like the indoor fan is not properly circulating air. In extreme cases, restricted airflow can cause the entire system to shut down. If this is the case, simply cleaning or replacing the air filter should solve the problem.

For more information on changing the system’s air filter, and how often to do it, take a look at our air conditioner maintenance page.

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Broken Fan Blade

If your system is running but you hear unusual noise coming from the outdoor unit, you might have a bad fan or a bent or broken fan blade. To troubleshoot, turn off the system at the thermostat as a safety precaution. A broken or damage fan blade can be dangerous if the system turns on while you are inspecting it. Once you have ensured the system is turned off, go outside to the outdoor unit. The condenser fan motor and fan are typically mounted at the top in the center of the unit and are usually visible through the fan guard or wire grill. If a fan blade is cracked, loose or broken, it can cause unusual noises due to it being out of balance or physically striking other components in the outdoor unit. If you discover a broken or damaged fan blade, keep the system turned off and contact a local HVAC professional for repair.

Burnt Out Condenser Fan Motor

If the fan blades seem to be ok, turn the system back on and check that the outside condenser fan motor is operating properly. Vibration or noisy operation would signal the fan blades are likely out of balance. If the fan blades don’t spin at all, it’s likely the condenser fan is not working and possibly burnt out, requiring replacement. In either case, we recommend calling a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and remedy the problem.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

Air conditioner fans not working can be a sign of a frozen evaporator coil. The evaporator coil sits inside your home within the air handler unit (furnace or fan coil), pulling heat and humidity from indoor air as it passes through. The evaporator coil can freeze up as a result of indoor blower fan malfunction, low refrigerant charge, low outdoor temperatures, or other system malfunctions. Because a frozen evaporator coil can be the result of a blower fan stoppage or the reason the blower fan stops running, a frozen coil with fan stoppage should be diagnosed and remedied by your local Carrier expert.

Compressor is Not Working

Many of the malfunctions already discussed can ultimately damage the compressor. Your AC system’s compressor is mounted inside the outdoor unit and is responsible for circulating refrigerant through the system’s copper tubing and coils. If the power to your AC unit is on, and the thermostat is set properly, yet there is no noise coming from the unit, the problem may be a damaged or malfunctioning compressor. Replacing a compressor is a major operation, which should be performed by a licensed and experienced HVAC technician. This will likely also raise the question of whether it is time to replace the entire unit or do the repair.

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Malfunctioning Run Capacitor

The outdoor unit of your AC system includes a smallish metal cylinder called a run capacitor that plays a large role in your system’s functioning. The run capacitor controls and supplies the electrical charge that starts and continues to operate the unit’s fan motor. If a run capacitor malfunctions, your AC system may not start, or it might start but continue to run, possibly making a humming sound. Other signs the run capacitor has malfunctioned include slow or delayed start-up, system shut down, or the system not blowing cold air. If you suspect a faulty run capacitor is the cause of your air conditioner fan not working, contact a professional HVAC service tech. Capacitors can retain electrical charge and should only be replaced or handled by a licensed and trained professional.

Find an Air Conditioner Service Professional Near You

If you have a situation with a central air conditioner fan not working and you have exhausted the troubleshooting steps outlined previously, it’s time to schedule an appointment with a certified HVAC technician. Your local Carrier HVAC dealer offers the expertise needed to properly diagnose and service your AC system.

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Why is My Air Conditioner Fan Not Working? | Carrier? ›

Air conditioner fans not working can be a sign of a frozen evaporator coil. The evaporator coil sits inside your home within the air handler unit (furnace or fan coil), pulling heat and humidity from indoor air as it passes through.

What can cause air conditioner fan to stop working? ›

In short, common issues that can cause an air conditioning unit fan to stop spinning are electrical issues, problems with the capacitor, contactor issues, a burnt out air conditioner motor, a broken fan belt, or clogged air filter.

How do I know if my AC fan is broken? ›

5 Signs Your AC Fan Motor Is Bad
  1. The cooling fans won't turn on.
  2. The fan turns on when the AC is running, but the blades rotate slowly.
  3. You can hear a rattling noise coming from the condenser unit.
  4. It smells like something's burning.
  5. Blown fuse.
Apr 4, 2019

Why is my AC humming fan not spinning? ›

So, what exactly is the problem? If your outdoor AC unit is humming but the fan isn't running, that most likely means you have a bad fan capacitor. Thankfully, there's a short-term fix that'll keep you cool until you get your capacitor replaced.

How much does it cost to replace an AC fan motor? ›

How Much Does it Cost for an AC Fan Motor Replacement? When your air conditioner's fan motor breaks, it will typically cost about $300 to $600 to replace. However, if your AC fan motor is under warranty, it could cost $100 to $300 - if your AC fan motor is not under warranty, it could cost between $200-$700.

Why is my outside AC unit running but no air blowing inside? ›

If you can hear the unit running but you feel no air (or a minimal amount of airflow) from the vents, there is likely a fan-related issue. Often what we see in this situation is that the fan capacitor has stopped running altogether and it needs to be replaced.

Should the AC fan always spin? ›

The short answer: Definitely not. (Unless you have manually engaged your outside fan to run constantly, but it shouldn't be running for hours on it's own.) If your HVAC is functioning correctly, it should keep your house cool by cycling on for 15-20 minutes at a time—with distinct pauses in between each cycle.

How much does it cost to replace an AC blower fan? ›

Nationally, you can expect to pay about $550 on average for a blower motor replacement, including labor. However, if your unit is under warranty, you might get away with a labor-only charge of as little as $130. More complicated units, or units that are difficult to access, can cost as much as $2,000+ to replace.

Is there a reset button on outside AC unit? ›

Some air conditioning systems have a reset switch, which is a small, red button. Typically, the button will be on the outdoor unit. If you have a problem locating it on the outdoor unit, you may find relevant details on the equipment's manufacturer's manual. Press the red button for three seconds and release.

Where is reset button on AC unit? ›

Look for it first around on the exterior of your machine, especially along the bottom edge near the ground. An AC's reset button is typically red and visible, so it should be easy to spot. If you don't see a reset button on the outside, it could be located inside the unit behind the service panel.

How do I reset my AC unit? ›

How to Reset an Air Conditioner
  1. Power down your AC. Start at your circuit breaker panel and flip the breaker that powers your AC. ...
  2. Find the button. Most air conditioning units are equipped with a reset button. ...
  3. Hold down the reset button for 3 to 5 seconds and then release.
  4. Restore power to your AC.

Why is my AC fan not working but the compressor is? ›

If you do hear the compressor humming but the fan isn't spinning at all, it's most likely a bad capacitor to blame. The capacitor is what starts the fan moving. You see, the fan doesn't require much energy once it's running.

Can I replace an AC fan motor myself? ›

As we're in the heart of air conditioner season, you may find yourself dealing with an expired condenser fan motor. Fortunately, this is a repair that can be done by non-professionals.

How long does an AC blower fan last? ›

Blower motors are designed to last just as long as your furnace itself, anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Just as with any HVAC system, the better maintained and serviced your equipment is by experienced HVAC technicians the longer it will last and the fewer repairs you'll face.

How often should you replace AC fan motor? ›

More likely is a lifespan of 10 to 20 years which means by the time the AC motor fails it's often time to consider replacing the entire system. One reason they last so long is they are designed and manufactured to withstand extreme heat up to 140℉.

How much does it cost to replace a capacitor on an air conditioner? ›

Installing a new AC capacitor usually costs between $80 and $400, including labor, but most homeowners pay around $190. Several factors can affect these costs.

How much is a new AC unit? ›

Air Conditioner Cost FAQ

The average cost of a new AC is $5,856, but it can range from $3,800 to $7,500. This price is for a central AC unit. Other types of air conditioning systems, such as a window or portable unit, cost less.

How much is a fan capacitor? ›

If an AC unit's fan isn't working, a blower capacitor could be the issue. A new blower capacitor costs between $9 and $12 plus the cost of labor to replace.

Should I turn off my AC if the fan isnt spinning? ›

If you don't turn off the power to your AC, you run the risk of heating the unit's compressor past its limits as it attempts to cool your home without a functioning fan. If the fan doesn't start to spin on its own, it might be more than a bad start capacitor or contactor.

When should the AC fan kick on? ›

Your HVAC fan should turn on and off with the rest of your heating and cooling system. It's normal for the fan to kick on a couple of minutes before heating starts or to stay on for a couple of minutes after cooling stops, but your fan shouldn't run for hours on its own.

How do I know if my AC blower motor is bad? ›

What Are Signs Your Blower Motor Needs to Be Replaced?
  1. Poor or Airflow from Air Vents.
  2. No Airflow At All From Vents.
  3. Skyrocketing Energy Bills.
  4. Strange Noises When You Turn on the Heat.
  5. Overheating Blower / Weird Smells.
Nov 22, 2020

Will AC work if blower motor is bad? ›

Your AC is rendered useless without a functioning fan or furnace blower motor. This could also mean that you need a furnace repair or should start looking at costs for blower motor replacement. In addition, you will either suffer from no air or weak airflow with fan problems.

What are the 2 typical signs that a capacitor is bad or has failed? ›

Here are some common symptoms of a bad AC capacitor.
  • AC Not Blowing Cold Air. An air conditioner that doesn't blow cold air is one of the first signs of a problem many homeowners notice. ...
  • High and Rising Energy Bills. ...
  • Humming Noise. ...
  • Old HVAC System. ...
  • AC Turns Off On Its Own. ...
  • AC Doesn't Turn On Immediately. ...
  • AC Won't Turn On.
May 16, 2018

Should I turn off AC if the capacitor is bad? ›

If you suspect that your AC's capacitor is going bad, we highly recommend turning off the unit and calling in a professional to come in and fix the problem.

What does a bad AC capacitor sound like? ›

A sure sign of a bad AC capacitor is a humming sound from within the access panel. Any humming noises indicate a problem with the air conditioning system or the components of the AC unit. Try turning the power on and off again to see if it was a one-time issue with the motor or a recurring problem.

How long to leave AC unit off to reset? ›

How do you reset your AC unit?
  1. Turn off your air conditioning system using the thermostat. ...
  2. Search for the breaker box. ...
  3. Shut off your AC unit at the breaker. ...
  4. Wait at least a full minute before switching the breaker back to the “on” position.
  5. Wait for 30 minutes before turning your unit back on at the thermostat.

How long are you supposed to hold the reset button on the AC unit? ›

In most instances, your AC unit will have a reset button. You'll want to hold it down for three seconds. If your system kicks back on, you're good to go. If your equipment doesn't kick back on, then hold the button down again for three full seconds.

How long does it take for an AC unit to reset? ›

After you've turned the system back on, it will take a bit of time for the air conditioner's internal circuitry to reset. It usually takes about 30 minutes, so sit tight until then.


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