Air conditioner on the fritz? It always seems to happen when it’s hottest and muggiest, right? Or on the weekend! So, when can you avoid an AC repair, and when do you have to call the pros? Here are some tips to help you diagnose the problem.
Diagnosing and Fixing the Problem
Typically, there are some basic — and easily fixable — things that may be causing your AC to malfunction.
- Find and remove any debris. Check your outdoor unit for grass, dirt, pebbles, even food left by visiting critters. Clear anything that isn’t part of the unit itself. Outside the unit, make sure it’s free and clear of brush, tall grass, or other obstructions.
- Change your filter. Filters can often be overlooked as the source of poor cooling. But a dirty filter can obstruct airflow and reduce your unit’s efficiency. Over time, a clogged filter can even cause a more serious malfunction — easily avoided by regularly inspecting and changing your filter.
- Check all power connections and switches. Make sure everything is plugged in for starters. Then take a look at both the on/off switch at your furnace and on your electrical panel. Check any fuses or circuit breakers, as well.
- Check your registers. Make sure all your registers are open and free of debris. That includes making sure your vents aren’t blocked by furniture, toys, or other household items.
- Check your thermostat. Make sure your thermostat is set to the COOL function and the temperature is set where you want it.
- Did you forget you joined an energy saving program? Many utility companies have energy-saver programs that are optional for their customers. The way these programs usually work is by providing customers a discount on their energy use. In exchange, the company has your OK to turn off your AC during peak usage periods or if there is another reason to lighten the power load.
Keith Hill, the resident HVAC expert here at Stay Comfy says, “if this happens, the system indoors will function normally, but the outdoor unit will be powered off.” There’s usually a “saver switch” located on the AC disconnect, or on the unit itself. Some have lights that let you know when the utility company is controlling the unit.
What NOT to Attempt on Your Own
There are definitely repair jobs you should not attempt on your own, so if you’ve checked all systems and changed your filter, it may be time to call in the pros. Here are the kinds of repairs that you’ll need to have your HVAC expert handle.
- Faulty wiring. If your unit frequently trips a circuit breaker or blows fuses, it could be an electrical problem. Best to have a pro take a look.
- Damaged coils. The coils inside your unit are the real “guts” of your system and it’s a good idea to have them regularly inspected and cleaned. You'll want any of these repairs done by a licensed professional.
- Leaking or low refrigerant. Not only is this not a DIY job, it’s illegal. Federal law mandates that refrigerants be handled by a trained technician.
Always Check Your Warranty
Before you attempt any DIY repairs, be sure to check the terms of your warranty. The rule of thumb here is simple: If you're in danger of voiding your warranty, call the pros. You can find reputable experts using our convenient dealer locator.