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AC Fan Not Spinning: Troubleshooting Guide

AC Fan Not Spinning

Is your AC fan not spinning? It can be a frustrating experience, especially during hot summer days in Arizona when you rely on your air conditioning system to keep your home cool and comfortable. The Air Conditioner fan plays a critical role in the cooling process by circulating air over the condenser coil to facilitate heat transfer. When the fan fails to spin, it can lead to poor cooling performance and potential issues with your AC unit.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the common causes of an AC fan not spinning and provide you with practical troubleshooting steps to help you address the issue effectively.

parts of ac unit

Before we dive into troubleshooting, let’s familiarize ourselves with the different components of your AC unit. It consists of the indoor unit, which contains the evaporator coil, and the outdoor unit, which houses the condenser coil and the AC fan.

The indoor and outdoor units work together to cool your home by extracting heat from the indoor air and releasing it outside. The AC fan in the outdoor unit plays a crucial role in expelling the heat absorbed by the refrigerant.

AC Condenser Fan Not Spinning

One common issue that homeowners encounter with the AC condenser fan is when it fails to spin. The condenser fan is responsible for drawing air through the condenser coil, where the refrigerant releases heat. If the fan fails to spin, the heat cannot be effectively dissipated, resulting in decreased cooling performance.

Several factors can contribute to this problem, including:

Faulty Fan Motor Capacitor

The fan motor capacitor provides the initial electrical charge to start the fan’s rotation. If the capacitor is faulty, it may prevent the fan motor from spinning. A visual inspection of the capacitor can help identify any signs of damage, such as bulging or leaking.

Testing the capacitance using a multimeter can also determine if the capacitor is within the acceptable range. If it’s defective, replacing the capacitor is necessary to restore proper fan functionality.

Fan Motor Failure

Over time, the fan motor can wear out or experience electrical issues, leading to a complete failure. A damaged motor may not spin even if power is supplied.

Inspecting the motor for visible signs of wear, such as burnt wires or excessive corrosion, can help determine if the motor needs replacement. If the motor is beyond repair, replacing it with a new one is essential.

Faulty Fan Motor Relay

The fan motor relay is responsible for sending an electrical signal to the fan motor, instructing it to start spinning. A malfunctioning relay can disrupt this communication, resulting in the fan not spinning.

Inspecting the relay for any signs of damage and testing it with a multimeter can help determine if it needs replacement.

Wiring Issues

Faulty or loose wiring connections can interrupt the electrical flow to the fan motor, preventing it from spinning. Visually inspecting the wiring connections and ensuring they are secure and free from damage is crucial. If any wires are loose or damaged, they should be tightened or replaced accordingly.

Obstructions or Debris

Sometimes, the issue preventing the fan from spinning is as simple as debris or obstructions lodged in the fan blades. Over time, leaves, sticks, or other objects can accumulate around the outdoor unit and hinder the fan’s movement. Carefully inspect the fan blades and remove any debris, ensuring they can rotate freely.

The AC Compressor Works But the AC Fan Doesn’t Spin

Another scenario that homeowners may encounter is when the AC compressor works, but the AC fan doesn’t spin. This situation can occur due to various reasons, including:

Fan Blade Obstruction

Debris such as leaves, sticks, or dirt can accumulate around the fan blades, obstructing their movement. This can prevent the fan from spinning freely. It’s essential to inspect the fan blades and clean any obstructions carefully. Removing the debris allows the fan to rotate properly and restore cooling efficiency.

Motor Overheating

If the AC fan motor overheats, it may enter a thermal overload state, causing it to shut off and stop spinning. This can be due to a lack of proper lubrication, excessive dirt accumulation, or a malfunctioning motor. Allowing the motor to cool down and ensuring it is properly lubricated can sometimes resolve the issue.

However, if the motor continues to overheat, it may require professional attention or replacement.

Faulty Fan Motor Capacitor

As mentioned earlier, a faulty fan motor capacitor can also contribute to the AC fan not spinning. If the capacitor is unable to provide the necessary electrical charge, the fan motor may not start. Testing the capacitor’s capacitance with a multimeter can help determine if it’s within the acceptable range. If not, replacing the capacitor is recommended.

Electrical Issues

In some cases, electrical issues within the AC unit’s wiring or control board can cause the AC fan not to spin. This can be due to a loose connection, damaged wires, or a malfunctioning control board.

Carefully inspecting the electrical components and addressing any wiring issues or faulty control boards can help resolve the problem.

Troubleshooting Steps for an AC Fan Not Spinning

technician testing the ac outside fan

Now that we’ve explored the common causes of an AC fan not spinning, let’s discuss some troubleshooting steps you can take to address the issue:

  1. Check the Power Supply: Ensure that the power to the outdoor unit is turned on. Check the circuit breaker and make sure it hasn’t tripped. If it has, reset it and see if the fan starts spinning.

  2. Inspect the Fan Blades: Carefully examine the fan blades for any obstructions or debris. Clean the blades and remove any obstructions that may be preventing them from spinning freely.

  3. Inspect and Test the Capacitor: Inspect the fan motor capacitor for any visible signs of damage. Test the capacitance using a multimeter to ensure it’s within the acceptable range. If it’s faulty, replace it with a new capacitor.

  4. Check Wiring Connections: Inspect the wiring connections between the fan motor, capacitor, relay, and control board. Tighten any loose connections and replace any damaged wires.

  5. Test the Fan Motor Relay: Using a multimeter, test the fan motor relay to ensure it’s functioning correctly. If it’s defective, replace it with a new one.

  6. Verify Motor Overheating: If the motor has recently shut off due to overheating, allow it to cool down before attempting to restart it. Ensure proper lubrication and check for any obstructions.

  7. Seek Professional Assistance: If you’ve gone through these troubleshooting steps and the AC fan still doesn’t spin, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a professional HVAC technician. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and resolve complex issues effectively.

Should the Outdoor AC Fan Always Be Running?

It’s important to note that the outdoor AC fan should not always be running. The fan operates in conjunction with the compressor and is responsible for circulating air over the condenser coil to facilitate heat transfer. When the cooling demand is met and the desired temperature is reached, the fan may cycle off while the compressor continues to operate. This cycle helps optimize energy efficiency and prevent unnecessary wear on the fan motor.

However, if you notice that the fan never starts or runs continuously, even when the cooling demand is met, it indicates a potential issue that requires attention.

Should the AC Fan Always Run?

Similarly, the AC fan inside your home should not always run continuously. There are different fan modes available on thermostats, such as “Auto” and “On.” In the “Auto” mode, the fan runs only when cooling is actively required. Once the desired temperature is reached, the fan will automatically shut off. On the other hand, the “On” mode keeps the fan running continuously, even when heating or cooling is not needed.

Running the AC fan continuously can provide benefits such as improved air circulation and filtration. However, it may also result in increased energy consumption. It’s recommended to use the “Auto” mode for everyday use, allowing the fan to operate when necessary and saving energy when it’s not needed.

How to Reset Your Outside AC Unit

technician checking the ac outside fan

If you’ve gone through the troubleshooting steps and still haven’t resolved the issue with your AC outdoor fan not running, you may consider resetting your outside AC unit. Here’s a general guide on how to reset the unit:

  1. Turn off the power: Locate the disconnect switch near the outdoor unit and switch it to the “Off” position. This ensures that there is no power supply to the unit during the reset process.

  2. Wait for a few minutes: Allow a few minutes for the system to fully power down and any residual electrical charge to dissipate.

  3. Turn on the power: Switch the disconnect switch back to the “On” position to restore power to the unit.

  4. Test the fan: Set your thermostat to the cooling mode and adjust the temperature setting below the current room temperature. Observe if the outdoor fan starts running.

Remember, when troubleshooting your AC unit, it’s essential to prioritize safety. Turn off the power supply to the unit before performing any inspections or repairs. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with any of the steps, it’s best to consult a professional technician.

For a comprehensive understanding of what to expect during an AC unit repair appointment, check out this informative guide on What to Expect During an AC Unit Repair Appointment


Dealing with an AC fan not running can be a frustrating experience, but with some troubleshooting and a basic understanding of your system, you can often identify and resolve the problem. Start by checking the power supply, inspecting components like capacitors and relays, and ensuring there are no obstructions or wiring issues.

If needed, consult a professional air conditioning specialist for a comprehensive diagnosis and resolution. 

Regular maintenance and timely repairs are key to keeping your AC system in optimal condition. By taking care of your outdoor fan and addressing any issues promptly, you can ensure efficient cooling performance and a comfortable indoor environment throughout the seasons.

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