This is the time of year when you depend on your air conditioner the most. If you’ve ever had AC problems, you dread the day you wake up to a hot house without a working AC unit. When you head outside to check your air conditioner, you may notice the outdoor AC fan isn’t spinning and perhaps even the compressor isn’t running. Not a good sign.

What to do When Your Outdoor AC Fan Isn’t Spinning

If your outdoor AC fan isn’t spinning, there are a couple of things to explore. First of all, troubleshoot to determine if the compressor works or not. This will help lead you in the right direction.

AC Fan Isn’t Spinning but Outdoor Compressor Works Fine

When the outdoor AC fan isn’t spinning but the compressor is working, chances are, you have a failed start capacitor. The start capacitor provides a jolt of electricity to the electric motor to get it running. If the start capacitor has gone bad, then the fan on your AC unit won’t spin.

Solution: You can use a stick to manually see if you can get the fan going. Do NOT use your fingers! If the fan starts up, it is only a temporary fix. You’ll still need to hire a technician to complete the repair.

In the meantime, turn the air conditioning unit off. With the AC fan outside not working, the system is jeopardized and you’ll need to avoid overheating the compressor.

ac fan outside not working

Image from Terry on YouTube


Outdoor AC Fan Not Spinning and Compressor Not Working

A bigger issue is if the outdoor AC fan isn’t spinning and the compressor isn’t working. The most common causes behind the compressor not working are either no power coming to the unit, or the compressor contactors are not transmitting power to the compressor and fan motor.

There is a chance that your AC unit has no power due to a tripped circuit breaker. So first things first, turn the AC thermostats off from the inside of the house. Then check the circuit breaker board and make sure all the circuits are in the ON position.

Solution A: If the AC circuits are tripped, flip them OFF and back ON again to restore power. Turn the thermostats back on inside the house. Now check the unit and see if that solved the problem. If power is not restored, see Solution B.

Solution B: Schedule licensed AC repair from a professional technician. There are other causes of losing AC power that a trained technician can diagnose and resolve to get the system up and running again.

bad ac fan motor symptoms

Image from ABC Blog


DIY troubleshooting is always a good place to start. Sometimes you get lucky with an easy fix. When that doesn’t work, your footwork makes you more informed, which allows you to feel more confident when discussing the problems and solutions with the technician.