How to Turn on an Air Conditioner

Nathan Rizzuti Profile image

Written By:

Updated February 11, 2023
Our posts contain affiliate links. Sometimes, not always, we may make $$ when you make a purchase through these links. No Ads. Ever. Learn More
Difficulty Easy
Steps 3
Time Required 15 minutes
Things to Know

Owners should examine their units each season before turning them on, and this applies to even the best air conditioners. Below, we’ll outline this critical set of tasks as we show you how to turn on a central air conditioner after the cold winter months. And if you find you need to run any repairs or tests, we also have an article that shows how to turn off an air conditioner properly.

Some of our other info content includes maintaining a central air conditioner, winterizing an air conditioner, learning how to set a timer on an air conditioner, and how to unlock the A/C thermostat. Plenty of help to get you familiar with your A/C unit.


  • A set process should go into turning on a central air conditioning unit for the year.
  • Check both the inside and outside unit for damage, debris, or clogs before turning it on for the summer months.
  • Performing routine annual inspections can help reduce overall energy bills and long to repair costs.

Turning on a Central Air Conditioner for Summer

Insider Tip

It’s always good to inspect your AC unit before you need to turn it on for the summer. This way, if there are any issues, they’re resolved before the summer heat comes.

STEP 1 Check the Outdoor Unit for Damage

  1. Take off any type of weather cover, coil blanket, or tarp you may have used to protect your unit over the winter.
  2. Look around to see if there are any missing pieces or panels, any sign of burn marks or blown fuses, or any damage from adverse weather.
  3. Check the pipes and condensate run-off for any damages or debris. If you find any clogs, you can check out our article on how to unclog an air conditioner’s drain pipe.
  4. If anything looks seriously damaged, call an HVAC professional to inspect.
  5. Remove any debris (branches, leaves, mulch, etc.) around the unit that might have collected during the winter.

STEP 2 Inspect the Indoor Unit

  1. Check the state of the air filter. If it looks dirty, purchase a new one and replace it. If it’s washable, use soap and water to clean it. Let it dry, and then replace it.
  2. Check the air grills and vents for excessive dust, hair, or debris. If dirty, use a vacuum to remove it.
  3. Check the drainage hose for any cracks, clogs, or leaky air ducts.

STEP 3 Turn on the Central Air Conditioning

  1. Go outside to the electrical panel found in the breaker box located on the outside wall near your AC unit and make sure the power switch or lever is turned to “on.”
  2. Go inside to the thermostat control board and power up your AC unit.
  3. Check to see if the airflow is cold and strong. If not, contact an HVAC repair company


If the drainage hose or condensate pipe is left clogged, this can result in flooding or water damage.


What causes an AC’s capacitor to fail?

The leading cause of capacitor failure is overheating and power outages. To avoid this, make sure to perform routine checks and tests on your capacitor, and install a surge protector if possible.

Should the AC be turned off when the weather is nice?

Unless you plan to keep your AC unit off for a long time, you should never fully turn it off.

When is it good to turn off your air conditioner?

It is good to turn off your air conditioner if you’re shutting it down for the winter or going to be gone on a long trip.

STAT: Modern ACs save up to 50% more on energy costs than units made in the 1970s. (source)

Nathan Rizzuti Profile image