Happy Monday, and welcome back to our “DIY? Or Call A Pro?” series! We discussed some plumbing scenarios in the last installment, and today we’re going to look at some things homeowners can do when their air conditioning has stopped working. As always, be sure that you have the proper tools, and know how to use them safely before attempting any repairs yourself.
One Wrench Solutions: Things Anyone Can Do!
Check your thermostat.
- Is the display operating? If not, change the batteries.
- Check to be sure that your setting is for “Cool.”
- Lower the temperature by 5 degrees and listen for the system to come on.
- Is the desired temperature realistic? Most air conditioners will cool 20 degrees below outdoor air temperature, and are rated for 95 degree days. So if the temperature outside is 98 degrees, and the thermostat is set for 67, the system will not reach the desired temperature and may be damaged in the attempt. Adjust your thermostat settings within the expected range and listen for the unit to cycle on and off properly.
2. Check the outdoor unit.
- Is the condenser blocked by trees, shrubbery, tall grass, or other debris? This is especially important to check after a storm or after a long absence from home.
- Is there an outdoor emergency switch that has been shut off by accident?
3. Check the indoor unit.
- First, check the breaker in the circuit panel. Switch a tripped breaker back on and monitor the unit closely to be sure it is cycling correctly. If the breaker trips multiple times, be sure to call a pro.
- Check the filter – is it clogged or dirty? If so, replace it immediately (or clean a washable filter). Standard filters should be changed every month – set a reminder on your calendar!
- Is the blower door latched closed? The unit won’t run if this has been left open.
- Check the drain pan (also called a condensate tray) for excess water. If you have a safety switch installed, the unit will shut off when an excessive amount of water collects in the pan – this saves you from expensive and inconvenient water damage, and is highly recommended particularly for customers with attic units. If the pan is full and the safety switch has been activated, call for a service appointment.
Two Wrench Solutions: Some Experience Necessary
1. Check your registers.
- Check that the registers that supply each room are open. This is easiest to do while the system is running and feel with your hand the amount of air coming through. If you have a large home with many registers, or are not sure whether there is a blockage at one of the registers, you may want to call a pro for help.
2. Inspect your ducts.
- You can do a visual inspection of your ductwork to look for kinks, tears, holes, or other problems. A thorough inspection follows the duct work from your system through to each register in the house, including through crawlspaces, attics, and basements. If you are not able to follow the line all the way through, or aren’t sure what you’re looking for, a pro can help.
3. Adjust your home’s humidification.
- Some humidity issues are easy to diagnose and can be fixed with a stand alone room dehumidifier. Others may require a whole home solution. Check that any room with a particular humidity problem has windows and doors that close properly and aren’t leaking excessive amounts of air.
4. Clean your coils.
- Your Oliver technician will inspect the coils on your unit during your annual maintenance visit, and clean them when needed. The outdoor coil may need cleaning or have damaged fins after a bad storm or once you’ve removed other debris. You should be sure that you know how to safely and properly clean a coil before attempting to do so. Please take particular care not to open any sealed casings or bend pipes, as this can damage your system and void any remaining warranty.
Three Wrench Solutions: Always Call Your Oliver Pro!
- Frequently tripping breakers can indicate a problem with a compressor or an electrical malfunction. Do not attempt to make repairs yourself.
- “Short cycling” unit – this is when the unit turns on and off frequently without reaching the desired temperature. Call a pro to diagnose and repair the problem.
- Running constantly – if you’ve ruled out a thermostat problem, and the unit continues to run without reaching temperature, give us a call to identify the problem.
- Refrigeration leak – our cooling professionals are trained to handle this material safely. There are requirements and regulations in place for personal and environmental safety, and refrigeration related repairs should not be attempted by homeowners.
We understand how frustrating a no cooling situation can be, and hope that these tips empower you to handle problems with your air conditioner with confidence. As always, our professionals are here to help, just give us a call or request an appointment online!