How to Reset an Air Conditioner

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Updated September 16, 2022

If you live in an area burdened with summer heat, you know how important it is to have the strongest air conditioner performance possible. Sometimes, however, you may find that you need to know how to reset your central unit, whether from a power outage or after a maintenance repair. Read on to learn more.


  • Resetting your central AC unit only takes a few minutes. It can help reboot the entire system to make everything function properly.
  • Make sure to let the AC system sit for a minute after turning off the circuit breaker.
  • After turning it back on, examine to ensure that the air is coming out cold and steady.

However, if you fear that your AC unit is broken and need to create something to keep cool in a pinch, we have an article on how to make an air conditioner with a fan. And for those who live in apartments and use window units to stay cool, you can read our article explaining how to reset a window air conditioner.

How to Reset Air Conditioner Unit

Resetting a central AC unit is an essential but easy task. It takes only a few simple steps, similar to knowing how to replace an air conditioner capacitor. First, you just need to have a basic idea of the anatomy of your indoor and outdoor unit and a general sense of how everything works.

Insider Tip

Many modern ACs come with a reset button right on the thermostat. But for best results, it’s best to go through the entire process of turning off the circuit breaker, waiting at least a few minutes, and then turning it back on.

We have an excellent resource that explains how to scrap an AC unit for those looking to replace their air conditioner altogether.


Go to your indoor thermostat and turn it off. Then go outside to the dedicated electrical disconnect and switch off the air conditioning unit (if you have one built-in). Finally, go to the circuit breaker box. The breaker will likely be outside the home, next to the outdoor unit, or basement.


After everything is turned off, let the unit sit for a bit to discharge. Usually, one to two minutes is a reasonable period to let sit.


Once the time is up, switch the AC at the circuit breaker and electrical disconnect back on. Then, after waiting about another minute, turn the thermostat back on.


After everything is fully turned back on, play around with the temperature controls on the AC thermostat to ensure that any electrical issue is solved. Make sure that the air is coming out cold and steady, and listen to see if any strange noises are coming from the unit.


If you go through the reset process and your unit still seems to be acting up, call an HVAC service person to inspect it.


Failing to turn your AC unit off at both the thermostat and circuit breaker boxes increases the likelihood of an electric shock when turning the power back on.


How often should you reset the air conditioning?

There is no average quota for how frequently you need to reset your AC unit. But if you need to reset it because you’re facing ongoing problems, call an expert to come to look at your system.

Should you reset your AC after a power outage?

Even if the AC comes back on and you don’t have to go to the circuit breaker box and turn it on manually, it can be good to go through the reset process anyway. When something with as many electrical components, like a central AC unit, turns off suddenly and then turns back on, there is a greater likelihood that something might malfunction. A proper reboot can set it into the right cycle.

What happens when you reset your AC unit?

The principle of resetting any electrically powered device is the same. Because many electrical components are at work simultaneously, glitches will occur when reengaging power distribution. Resetting the power gives any malfunctioning electrical component a chance to reboot.

STAT: Some AC manufacturers say that for every degree lower you set your AC temperature, your energy bill increases by 1%. (source)

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