Ask anyone who lives in the desert and they will likely tell you that air conditioners are one of man’s greatest inventions. The ability to escape the oppressive summer heat into a crisp, cool home is one of life’s simplest pleasures, and nothing is quite as frightening as having that luxury ripped away in the middle of a heat wave.
Panic is often quick to follow, trailed closely by a speedy phone call to the nearest technician. This can be a costly issue, and who has the time or money to wait around for a pro? Luckily, this type of catastrophe can be avoided with a regular air conditioner maintenance plan and a little love for your AC.
HVAC systems may seem complicated and intricate, but that doesn’t mean that routine maintenance isn’t possible for the regular DIYer. Here are some tips on how to care for your more common air conditioner problems yourself, and about how to know when it’s time to call in a professional.
When Your Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On
You wake up in the morning, and it’s already 90 degrees outside. You flip on the air conditioner for some cooling relief and nothing happens. Don’t panic! Take a few simple steps to solve the issue.
Step 1: Check the thermostat
This may seem like a simple fix, but it’s very common to forget that if the thermostat isn’t programmed correctly, the air conditioner won’t kick on automatically. So give it a look. Try dropping the temperature by 5 degrees and then wait a few minutes. The AC should kick on at this point, but if it doesn’t, move on to the next step.
Step 2: Check the circuit breaker
Air conditioners are known for consuming a good deal of power, even more so during the summer, when they are working hard to keep your home at a refreshing 70 degrees. Often this extra draw on the power grid will trip a breaker, which is luckily a relatively easy thing to check. Simply head outside and locate the breaker box near the condensing unit. After opening the breaker box, look to see if any of the switches has been flipped. If they have, flip them back into position. Once this has been fixed, head to your home’s circuit breaker box and check those as well. Now that all the breakers have been fixed, head back inside to reset the thermostat and try running the AC again.
If neither of these solutions worked for you, then the issue is more serious, and it’s time to call in a pro. The motor within the air conditioner could be broken, or there could be issues with the compressor. For your safety, these issues should be left to a professional HVAC technician.
When Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Conditioning
Your air conditioner has been running, but you don’t feel much of a temperature change. There is no cold air blowing from the vents, and the temperature on the thermostat hasn’t changed in the last hour. This issue can be confusing for the DIYer, but there are a few simple methods to check if your AC needs a doctor or just a little maintenance.
Step 1: Check the thermostat
Once again, the thermostat could be the most obvious solution, even if it is easily overlooked. Try dropping the temperature on the thermostat by about 5 degrees, and wait about an hour before checking again. If there has been no change, move on to the more complicated solutions.
Step 2: Clean the evaporator coil
Your AC unit’s evaporator is one of its most critical components. It vaporizes the compressed coolant chemical, generally R-22, allowing it to absorb heat and then push cool air back into your home. Sometimes this coil is easy to access on your central unit, and if so, it is relatively straightforward to clean yourself.
You can find this coil at the top of the unit, just above the air handler and behind a metal plate that will need to be removed with a screwdriver. Once you have opened the unit, use a stiff brush to remove any build-up within the unit.
HandyManHowTo.com has an excellent, detailed article on the fine points of cleaning your evaporator coils yourself. Once this has been done, power the AC back on and give it another hour to cool your home.
If the cleaning didn’t solve the issue, it could be the sign of a leak or lack of refrigerant, which is the type of air conditioner problem better left to a professional.
Routine AC Maintenance Is the Best Repair
Most air conditioner problems can be avoided with regular maintenance that a DIYer or a professional service could perform. Changing the air filter, cleaning the evaporator coils, removing debris from around the unit, cleaning and straightening the fins and even keeping the unit level are all simple steps a DIYer can make to keep the AC working year-round. If you plan to do this upkeep yourself, just be sure to turn off all power to the unit and consult the owner’s manual to prevent any damage to your AC, or worse, to yourself.
Have you tried everything, but your air conditioner still has problems? Call a reliable, reputable HVAC professional at The Cooling Company to get your AC fixed and your home cool. We’re open 24/7, so call us at (702) 790-8277. If it’s not an emergency and you’d like us to perform yearly or monthly maintenance on your AC unit, you can call us or schedule your appointment online.