Air conditioners are powered by electricity, which means they have many different controls and components that ensure every part of the system turns on and off at the right times. If something goes wrong with any of your air conditioner’s electrical components, your system will almost certainly experience performance problems, if it even turns on at all. A contactor is one electrical component that can be found in multiple parts of your air conditioner, and it plays a crucial role in the distribution of power to your system. Today we’re going to talk about what an air conditioner contactor is, what can go wrong with a contactor and what you can do to prevent problems with your air conditioner’s contactors!
What is an air conditioner contactor?
A contactor is a small device that controls the flow of electricity to one of your air conditioner’s components. You can think of a contactor like a drawbridge that extends over a river. When the drawbridge is down, cars can drive freely over the bridge to get to the other side. When the drawbridge is up, however, cars have to wait on either side of the bridge until it is lowered again.
Contactors work in the same way, except instead of controlling the flow of traffic, they control the flow of electricity. These devices are used to provide and cut off the supply of power to many of your air conditioner’s components, including the compressor, the condenser and your system’s various motors.
How does an air conditioner contactor work?
When an air conditioner is not in a cooling cycle, the contactors are in the “up” position. This means that they are blocking electricity from flowing to your system’s various components. When your thermostat wants to start a cooling cycle, a small voltage is sent to the contactors that tells them to lower into the “down” position. This allows electricity to flow to your air conditioner’s parts so that they can operate.
Contactors stay in the down position until the thermostat is satisfied and wants to end a cooling cycle. At this point, another small voltage is sent to the contactors that tells them to open up again and cut off the supply of energy to your system’s parts.
What can go wrong with an air conditioner contactor?
Perhaps the biggest issue that can occur with contactors is that they burn out. This can happen after years of normal wear and tear or when your system is overheating. If a contactor burns out, the component that it is responsible for will not receive electricity.
Another problem that can develop with contactors is that they get stuck in the up or down position. This can happen when they are dirty or when they are simply wearing out. If a contactor is stuck in the up position, the component it is responsible for will not receive electricity. If a contactor is stuck in the down position, the component it is responsible for will continue running even after a cooling cycle is supposed to end.
How can you prevent problems with your air conditioner’s contactors?
The best way to prevent problems with your air conditioner’s contactors is to schedule a tune-up for your cooling system every year. During a tune-up, we’ll inspect your system’s contactors and replace any of them that are either wearing out or already worn out. We will also clean off any dirt that has built up on your contactors in order to prevent future problems.
If you have any questions about an air conditioner contactor, or if you’d like a cooling system serviced or installed in your home, contact Hydes, your Indio, CA, air conditioning contractor.