It seems like it always happens at the worst time: friends are coming over for dinner, you’re hosting a birthday party, or it’s family movie night, and suddenly your air conditioner either goes out or starts blowing hot air. Don’t panic, there are a number of common AC issues that you may be able to solve quickly and cheaply on your own.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before calling in the pros.
Is the Thermostat Set Correctly?
It may seem totally obvious, but it’s surprising how often the wrong setting can be the culprit for your AC “malfunctioning.” First be sure you’re set to “cool.” Then check the temperature to be sure it’s set low enough to kick in the air. That may be all it takes to fix the problem.
Is Your Airflow Restricted Anywhere?
There can be several reasons and places your airflow is restricted. The first places to check are your room vents. Sometimes these get accidentally covered or blocked by household objects. Be sure all the vents are open and have free airflow. If the vents are clear, here are four more issues with airflow.
- Check and replace your air filter. During the cooling season, you’ll want to check it monthly and replace the filter whenever it gets dirty or clogged.
- While you’re checking the filter, be sure to inspect the coil, as well. If that gets clogged, it can cause your AC to freeze up. You’ll want to make sure it’s clean and free of any debris.
- If you’re still experiencing difficulty, check your air ducts to make sure they’re not clogged. You can often tell if your air ducts need to be cleaned if you’re seeing puffs of dust escaping your vents.
- Check your outdoor unit. Make sure it’s free of any dust and debris — both inside the unit and in the area around it. Be sure to trim any tall grass or bushes around the unit. If it’s not running at all, check to see if you’ve blown a fuse or tripped a circuit breaker. That could be another easy fix. But if you re-set and it continues to trip, you could have a more serious electrical issue to address.
Is Your Unit Low on Refrigerant?
If you suspect that low refrigerant is your problem or if you notice a leak in your system, then it’s definitely time to call in the pros. There are federal and local regulations that require trained technicians to handle refrigerants.
Is it Time to Call Your HVAC Pro?
If you’ve checked your filters, vents, and ductwork, cleaned your coil, made sure you haven’t tripped a circuit and you’re still having problems, it’s time to call your local HVAC pro. They’ll be able to pinpoint the problem and work with you on a solution. All the DIY work you did ahead of time will speed the process and help keep costs low.
Once you’re back up and running again, consider making an appointment for next year’s annual inspection. Spring is the best time, and it can mean having a worry-free cooling season ahead.