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How to Prevent HVAC Electrical Problems | Electrical Safety Month

by vscontent on May 5, 2017

HVAC electrical safety - Electrical Safety MonthMay is National Electrical Month! Each year the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), a non-profit organization committed to promoting electrical safety in our homes, schools, and businesses, puts together a national campaign to save lives and educate citizens. The theme for 2017 is “Decoding the NEC to Prevent Shock and Electrocution.”

This annual campaign offers educational tools and advice for all home and business owners about electrical safety. The goal is to protect communities and individuals from electrical fires, injuries, and even death. Although necessary for daily life, electricity can indeed kill. Facts and prevention are the best protection against electrical accidents and emergencies.

Pacific Heating & Cooling is equally devoted to educating our customers about electrical safety when it comes to our field of work in HVAC. In honor of National Electrical Safety Month, we offer these tips on how to recognize and prevent HVAC electrical problems.


Although it seems that HVAC and Electrical are two separate fields of work, they are intricately connected. HVAC technicians have extensive knowledge of electrical repair. This is because a heating and cooling unit is a complex electro-mechanical machine that counts on electricity to fulfill its purpose.

Like most systems and devices in our home, your air conditioner runs on electricity. Many of the HVAC repairs we encounter are related to electrical failures. The more complex issues must be handled by a professional technician that understands electrical safety procedures. As a general rule, never troubleshoot electrical problems on your own.

Common HVAC Electrical Repairs

Faulty or Failing Capacitors – If the capacitors are faulty or failing, then you will experience electrical problems with your unit. A capacitor is the regulator of power, tasked with sending voltage to the motors. Capacitors get your system moving and keep it flowing. When a capacitor becomes faulty due to age, wear, or excess voltage, it can fail. When a capacitor fails, replacement services will be necessary to get the motors and the unit back up and running.

Fault or Short in the Wiring – Loose wires, likely caused by excess wear over time, cause a disruption in the flow of power within the unit. Also related to the wiring, a shortage will block the flow of electricity. A short in the wiring is caused when wires receive more electricity than they can handle. This is a potential fire hazard and must be addressed.

Frequently Tripping Circuit Breaker – If your HVAC breaker keeps tripping, there’s an electrical issue. The system is demanding too much power, causing the circuit breakers to trip from overload. This issue is often correlated with the A/C being improperly matched to your home’s voltage or a fault in the circuit control board. A faulty breaker, an ill-fitting breaker, or a loose breaker are important problems to locate and repair. If you notice any damage or burn marks on your electrical panel, call a certified electrician right away.

Relays (Open or Stuck) – If your A/C unit isn’t turning on, or refusing to turn off, there is an issue with your relays. Without relays, electrical power cannot be properly transmitted to the motors within your unit. If the motor won’t turn on then a relay has been forced open. If the motor won’t turn off then a relay has become stuck or sealed shut. Any issue with your relays is electrical and must be repaired by a trained technician. 


Pacific Heating & Cooling advocates HVAC efficiency and safety through annual maintenance and upkeep. When a technician comes to your home for a safety inspection, they are looking for early warning signs of potential issues. Once caught, these problems can be repaired before they turn into costly and dangerous situations.

Since HVAC and electricity go hand in hand, the following warning signs and safety tips from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) website are especially relevant in the month of May when homeowners are most likely to seek air conditioning maintenance before the weather starts heating up.

Don’t Get Burned: Warning Signs of Potential Problems

  • Your energy bill goes up without increased use
  • Any sounds such as clunking or knocking
  • The air in the home is too humid or too dry
  • Certain areas of the home are hotter or cooler than others
  • HVAC breaker keeps tripping
  • If your furnace is more than 15 years old, or if your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it may be time for a replacement

Keep Your Cool: Upkeep and Maintenance

  • Make sure fuel-burning heating equipment is vented to the outside without obstruction
  • Replace the HVAC filter at least every 90 days
  • Keep intake and output vents clean and clear of debris and dust
  • Have your heating and air conditioning systems inspected by a qualified service professional at least once a year to make sure they are running at optimal efficiency and to diagnose any potential problems.
  • Some heating appliances may produce carbon monoxide (CO), a poisonous gas that is tasteless, colorless, and odorless. Protect your home with CO alarms and test them monthly to ensure they are working properly.

HVAC electrical safety tips - electrical safety monthSource: ESFI


Work with ESFI and Pacific Heating & Cooling to share these potentially life-saving messages on electrical safety.

When it comes to anything electrical, always work with professionals. Electrical safety is important every day, not just in the month of May.

Remember, spring is the ideal season for HVAC maintenance, tune-ups, and repairs. Prepare for the coming months before the heat hits its peak with your annual air conditioning maintenance appointment. Save money, time, and frustration by signing up for our Home Maintenance Plan.

For more information on National Electrical Safety Month, including downloadable resources and guidelines from the National Electrical Code (NEC), visit the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) website.

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For the best HVAC service in the Pacific Northwest, call Pacific Heating & Cooling at 253.292.3995 for 24/7 service!

Since 1984, we’ve been proudly serving our communities in Federal Way, Graham, Spanaway, University Place, Steilacoom, Sumner, Lakewood, Puyallup, Tacoma and Gig Harbor.

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