Sparks or Smoke from Window AC? Safety First!

Man fanning air with a piece of paper

Are there sparks or smoke coming from your Window AC, and you’re getting worried?

You’re not alone! Although it’s not the most common thing to have happen, the issue is not unheard of, and it affects thousands of people daily.

When any appliance starts smoking, it’s normal that our first reaction is to feel a little panic and reach for the phone to contact the Firemen. But don’t worry; in many cases, the issue is not as serious as it looks.

Below, you’ll find the 6 most common reasons behind sparks or smoke coming from a Window AC and some simple (and not so simple) ways to address each one.

When sparks or smoke are coming from your Window AC, it can be due to electrical outlet issues, a faulty power cord, loose electrical components, or a short circuit. A faulty motor or simple age and wear can also be blamed in certain scenarios.

Keep reading to stop the sparks!

Why There Are Sparks or Smoke in Your Window AC

With such an issue, there’s no single answer or explanation. Window Air Conditioners are complex appliances that rely on several processes and internal components to work as they do.

Although sparks or smoke are almost always a safety concern, sometimes all you need to do to address the problem is replace the power cable or check your wall outlet.

Here are some things I recommend you look at to stay safe and deal with the situation.

#1 Check the Outlet

In my experience, when sparks or smoke are coming from a Window AC, the best place to start looking for answers is the wall outlet.

Modern homes are built to deal with most appliances and withstand major power surges throughout the years. However, even the best home electrical layout can sometimes fail and affect wall outlets.

In my experience, if sparks are coming from a specific outlet when you plug in the Window AC or any other appliance, there’s a good chance something’s wrong with it.

Person plugging a cable into a wall outlet
Always ensure your wall outlets are in good condition.

Solution: Carefully unplug your Window AC from the suspicious outlet and plug it back into a different one. If the problem is isolated to a single outlet, your AC should work normally on a different power source.

If you have a multimeter, you can use it to test the suspicious outlet’s continuity and determine whether it needs repairing. Unless you’re well-versed in electrical DIYs, I strongly advise against attempting to deal with a bad wall outlet yourself, as there’s a high risk of electrocution if you’re not careful.

If you’re doubtful during the process, please get in touch with a professional electrician and have them take care of the job.

Remember – safety first!

#2 Check the Power Cord

If the wall outlet doesn’t seem to be the problem, a faulty or damaged power cord is the next possible reason behind sparks or smoke coming from your Window AC.

Although modern appliance power cords are sturdy and built to last, bad habits, such as keeping them tangled or pressing against a wall at sharp angles, can cause damage over time.

Solution: Look for sparks or smoke coming from the power cord while the Window AC is plugged into the wall. Sometimes, you’ll spot frayed cables and a broken rubber housing if the damage is severe.

It’s critical that you stop using the Window AC as soon as you determine that the power cord is in bad condition; otherwise, you risk a short circuit or, even worse, a fire.

I’ve found that depending on the brand and model of your Window AC, replacing a damaged power cord with a new one can be simple or complex. If you’re unsure how to go about the replacement or don’t know where to find the right cable for your model, please contact a certified HVAC technician for help.

#3 Check for Loose Wires

Loose wires inside your Window AC can also explain why sparks or smoke are coming from it.

Modern Air Conditioners and all other appliances are built under strict standards that, on paper, should guarantee that no connections come loose during their lifespan. However, I find that issues can still arise even with such precautions.

An easy way to tell whether there are loose cables inside your Window AC is to look for flickering lights on the appliance’s control panel or an intermittent sparking and buzzing sound.

A control board with loose wires
Loose connections can cause a lot of problems if left unattended.

Solution: My usual advice when you suspect loose wires causing the sparks and smoke coming from your Window AC is to open the unit and look closely for anything out of order.

Here’s how to access your appliance’s internal wiring:

  1. Unplug your Window AC from the wall or use your circuit breakers to stop the power supply to the area of your home where the appliance is.
  2. Depending on your Window AC model, you might have to remove it from the window to work on it.
  3. Remove the control panel’s cover to expose the wires (they’re typically behind a metal or plastic cover on the side or top of the AC.
  4. Undo the screws holding the panel in place and then remove the panel to expose the wires.
  5. Look for your Window AC’s control board and try to spot loose cables or detached connections.
  6. If you spot any detached connections, reconnect them to the board, and if you see any frayed or broken cables, please stop and call a technician.

Air Conditioners are complex in design, so please do not attempt to fix any broken cables or connectors on your control panel unless you know exactly what you’re doing. It’s better to pay for a technician’s visit than to put yourself at risk trying to save some money.

#4 Consider a Short Circuit

Another possible reason there are sparks or smoke coming from your Window AC is that there’s a short circuit inside it.

While loose wires and short circuits share a couple of symptoms, I’ve found that you’ll also notice a smell of burnt plastic coming from your AC when there’s a short circuit. It’s critical that you stop using your appliance and unplug it from the wall outlet as soon as you suspect a short circuit is to blame for the situation.

Solution: While I’m normally all for helping people solve their appliance issues, a short-circuiting WIndow AC with sparks or smoke coming out of it is no DIY task.

Please get in touch with a certified HVAC technician to ensure your safety and proper repair of the appliance.

#5 Check the Motor/Compressor

Delving into more complex issues, let’s consider a faulty motor as the cause behind sparks or smoke coming from your Window AC.

As with loose components and short circuits, a faulty Window AC motor or compressor will be easy to spot, as smoke and/or sparks will come from it – specifically from the motor area. Also, you might notice that the AC is not cooling despite being on and set to a certain temperature.

Depending on your appliance’s make and model, the location of the motor and the cost of replacing it will vary.

Solution: A Window AC’s motor/compressor repair is extremely complicated, so I strongly advise against taking on the task yourself.

Not only will you be putting yourself in harm’s way, but you can also risk damaging the AC beyond repair, which can be more expensive than calling a technician to look at the problem.

#6 Consider the AC’s Age

Last, let’s consider your Window AC’s age.

The average lifespan of a Window AC is 10 years, so if yours is older than that, it’s likely high time you replaced it. As time passes, the components of your Air Conditioner wear out, and slowly but surely, it becomes less effective at cooling your living spaces and less efficient at saving power.

If sparks and smoke are coming from your Window AC, there’s a good chance one or more internal components have given out.

A window AC in a building
Window ACs need to be replaced when their average lifespan has been reached.

Solution: In cases where an appliance has reached the end of its lifespan, I don’t recommend attempting a repair, as it’ll just be wasted money.

Instead, my usual advice is to buy a new AC with similar specs. Many modern models are much more power-efficient than their older siblings, so while spending money on a new AC sucks, you’ll likely be saving some money on electricity every month!

Addressing Sparks or Smoke in Your Window AC

That about covers it!

When sparks or smoke are coming from your Window AC, the thought of a fire might make you panic.

However, as I hope this piece has helped you better understand, modern appliances are equipped with many safety measures, so as long as you address the problem and stop using your AC as soon as you spot anything weird, you’ll be okay.

In many cases, something as simple as replacing the power cord or using a different wall outlet to plug your Window AC into will do the trick.

Thanks for reading. If this article was useful and answered your most burning questions, please check out our other resources and free guides below and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

Have a wonderful week!


I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more