A nightmare situation for homeowners to deal with over the summer is when the air conditioning unit is not doing its job. There is no greater relief than to feel the cold air against your skin after walking in from the scorching heat. Unfortunately, more often than not, it is during this time of year when one’s AC can act finicky.
Now, you can certainly call your local HVAC company to inspect your air conditioner and fix it right away. However, there are some things you can do, if you are so inclined before you make that call.
After all, the reason your AC unit may not be working properly could be attributed to something so simple that you can take care of it on your own before dishing out funds from your emergency savings.
With all that said, it is important to note that you may not be able to solve the issue if it turns out to be more complex or dangerous, especially when it comes to dealing with electrical wiring.
Learn more about what you can do before you call a professional HVAC company.
1. Check the Thermostat
While this may sound like the most obvious thing to do, there are a few things you must do when checking your thermostat. First, check to see if your AC was switched from “Automatic” to “Fan.”
It is possible someone in the house may have accidentally messed with that setting, which makes a huge difference. It is a difference between cold air being dispersed throughout your entire home or, if the “Fan” setting is on, air will blow through the duct system, but with no cooling throughout the house. If that is the case, resetting the switch to “Automatic” is all you’d need to do.
If that’s not what happened, and your thermostat is turned off, check the battery as you may need to replace the battery.
2. See if Your Air Filter Needs Replacement
Do you remember the last time you checked or changed your air filter? If the answer is ‘no,’ it likely has been several months. That means that your filter may be dirty and clogged, which would drastically affect the airflow in your home.
Whether it’s due to animal fur or dust, your AC unit is unable to circulate enough air to keep the temperature in your home comfortable. Basically, if you can’t see through the filter, it needs to be replaced and that should do it. If there is still an issue with air flow, it’s best to call an HVAC technician.
For the future, a good rule of thumb would be to change the air filter out every 3 months.
3. Unclog the Condensation Drain
As you may or may not know, one way in which air conditioners function is by removing humidity from the air through the process of condensation. Ultimately, the moisture has to escape somewhere so that is what the condensation drain hose is for.
Depending on the type of system you have, it will guide water to either a floor drain or the exterior of your home. Unfortunately, condensation drains are prone to mold and algae growth, which explains why your AC system stops cooling.
How can you resolve this? Just find the end of the condensation drain line and look for a clog. If you happen to see a clog, use the end of a small screwdriver to clear it out. You can even use the hose of a vacuum for a bigger clog.
After removing the clog, pour a few cups of white vinegar into the condensation pan found underneath the evaporator coils in the inside blower unit to decrease the risk of future clogs.
4. Inspect a Malfunction with Air Duct
If an air duct between the blower and a room register is broken, the cool air may be blowing out before reaching the room’s register. It should be blowing out from all registers. You can examine the ductwork to see if a joint came loose.
If that is what happened, you can just refit the ends of the joint and securely tape the new joint using duct tape. However, if a ducting joint came loose within a wall, it would be more difficult to find. Therefore, you will have to call an HVAC professional to take care of it.
If All Else Fails, Call Your Local HVAC Professional
Say you went through the checklist of things you could do on your own and your air conditioner is still not working properly, well, that’s okay. This is where one of the licensed HVAC technicians comes in.
And it’s a good thing too because the problem could be more complicated and unsafe for you to handle. For example, if it involves freon or other refrigerants, that is toxic and therefore something you do not want to get near. It’s one thing to see if there is a leak, and it’s another to try to fix it on your own. It is best to leave it to a professional.
There’s also the matter of electrical wiring. As briefly mentioned, it is very dangerous to mess around with that if you are not 100% sure what you are doing. WIth AC systems being high voltage, you do not want to touch any live wires.
It could be a blown fuse or something else. Regardless of what it is, you are better off having an experienced professional diagnose and repair the issue. And while you can technically check the cartridge fuses on your AC unit with a multimeter, it may not indicate exactly how much and it is also dangerous. Bottom line is that a professional HVAC contractor will be able to inspect the fuses within seconds, so it would just be more efficient to have them do that instead of you.