Three Easy Ways To Reset Your AC or Heat Pump System.

I’ll explain three simple ways to reset your homes HVAC system. But be ready, if these don’t work you better be prepared to call a technician. Deep down in your gut you probable know something is wrong and that’s what you are going to have to do anyway. But it won’t hurt to try, right!

  1. Find an actual reset button
  2. Switch off the thermostat, wait about 60 seconds and turn back on.
  3. Switch off all the breakers, wait about 60 seconds and turn back on.

How Do I Find An Air Conditioner’s Reset Button?

Reset buttons come on a lot of different appliances. You could call an air conditioner an appliance I guess. It’s a unit that cools and/or heats your home just like a refrigerator cools your food. The difficulty is finding the that little reset button and if there even is one.

I think I’d be accurate saying that most reset buttons are red in color and hiding in inconspicuous places. So keeping in mind that most split system air conditioner or heat pumps have an indoor and an outdoor unit your first tip in finding the reset button is to

look around and in the outdoor unit.

Residential HVAC units also come in what are referred to as “package units”. Package units are not split, but are a single unit that sets outside, usually on a pad with duct work attached that goes into the home. You see a lot of package unit in hotter climates like Arizona and Texas. A lot of those package units are on the roof.

Again, you have to look around and inside the unit. You may even have to remove a panel or two especially the panels around the compressor.

Don’t All Air Conditioners Have A Reset Button?

Actually no! A reset button on an AC unit is essentially a manual pressure switch. Not all AC units have a reset button or pressure switches. Most have what is called an automatic reset that comes in the form of a pressure switch.

I just replaced an old heat pump. The old unit is still (at this moment) setting beside my shop. Looking inside there are no pressure switches or reset buttons.

no pressure switches or reset button
Inside this heat pump there are no reset buttons or pressure switches

These pressure switches react to low and high pressures of the sealed system that contains refrigerant or what most people know as Freon. Just so you know, Freon is a brand name. The generic name is “refrigerant”.

If a heat pump or AC system has a low pressure switch and for some reason, like maybe a leak, it gets low on refrigerant, the low pressure switch will shut down and protect the compressor.

If an outdoor unit has a high pressure switch and the outdoor fan quits or the coil gets blocked so air can’t get though, the system will shut down because of high pressure to also protect the compressor. Heat pumps have other reasons that they may have high pressures but I think I’ve covered the reasons for pressure switches.

These are auto reset pressure switches. They look a lot like a manual reset button but they have no button. They will automatically reset when the pressures fall within their parameters which can also allow a unit to cycle on and off.

Will Switching Off The Thermostat Reset An Air Conditioner?

Turning off an HVAC system at the thermostat is not a recognized method to reset your air conditioner. Although it may cycle off and then on or come on depending on the present setting you will not achieve any sort of reset.

If your air conditioner or heat pump is off and not responding to the settings on your thermostat and you simply cannot find one of those red buttons on the outdoor unit to push, then you have a problem that is going to require a service technician.

I often wondered why waiting for a short time after turning off the power to my internet modem was important. It seems there are diodes, or maybe it’s capacitors, that need a little time to bleed off before restarting.

I don’t claim to be an electrical engineer, so if you want to give this reset one last grand effort then wait a minute after turning off the unit at the thermostat and see what goes.

Will Switching Off The Breakers Reset My Air Conditioner?

You may have landed on something here that may have a chance of working, but not in the way you are thinking. I’ve seen breakers that look to be in the “on” position, but they are not suppling power to the unit.

Faulty breakers are a real thing. Breakers can fail in more that one way. If you suspect your problem to be a breaker or the power going to you air conditioner then call your service provider and don’t take any unnecessary risks.

Many people are reluctant to pursue electrical troubleshooting and have little to no experience with those switches in they’re breaker panels. But no harm will come by taking a breaker that is well marked indicating it is the AC or heat pump and toggling it off and then back on and seeing what the results are.

No need to wait for 60 seconds for this test. If your thermostat says “cool on” and you switch that breaker to the outdoor unit off and then back on you may get an instant reaction if that was the problem. If not it could also be a fuse that most home owners are not even aware of, hiding in that box on the side of the house.

Don’t open the cover inside this disconnect unless you are familiar with electricity or you are already immortal.

That box is called an outdoor disconnect. It has more than one purpose, but it’s main requirement is to provide a power cut off for servicing the unit. Inside some of these outdoor disconnects could be a couple of fuses. If you’re the stubborn type and you are going to open the disconnect then make sure the power is off at the indoor service panel.

The only way to know that the power is off is to have a meter and know how to use it. The fuses can also be checked using a volt ohm meter.

The fuses are not always required so some are just a plug that pulls out to disconnect the units power or it could even be another breaker that you could play with like the one inside.

Chad Peterson

Chad Peterson is near 40 year veteran of the HVAC industry. "I like to explain heating and air conditioning problems in a way the average home owner can understand. "

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