The last thing anyone wants is for the air conditioner to go on the fritz during the hottest time of the year. But, before you schedule a service call, try these do-it-yourself tips to get your unit running the way it should.
Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On
Let’s start with the obvious — double check that the air conditioner is plugged in. Next, check your circuit breakers for a blown fuse and reset the unit’s switches and overloads. If the unit still won’t turn on, look at the thermostat. Set the thermostat two to three degrees cooler than the ambient temperature of the house. Turn the thermostat off, then wait a minute and turn it back on to see if that fixed the problem.
If your air conditioner still won’t turn on, check to see if the thermostat needs new batteries. Also, look at the timer settings and double-check that the thermostat is in run mode. If those things look right, go outside and look at the condenser unit.
Sweep away any leaves and debris in and around the condenser. Trim all plants and shrubs to at least 3 feet from the unit. Cut back overhanging tree limbs to at least 5 feet above the unit. If there is nothing restricting the condenser and the unit still won’t turn on, it is time to call a professional HVAC repairman.
Air Conditioner Is Not Cooling Properly
Image via Flick by Tessa Beeching
If the unit is working but not keeping your house comfortable, try lowering the thermostat five degrees. Look at the AC filter and change it if it’s dirty. Change the filter monthly to keep dust from blocking air flow.
Stand near windows and doors and check for air leaks. If warm air is leaking in, add weather-stripping to seal the cracks. Keep your shades drawn during the day and turn off lamps and televisions and other heat generating appliances. This way, your air conditioner won’t have to work as hard to keep you cool.
Still too warm? Look to see if ice formed on parts of the outdoor unit. Ice buildup signals that the unit needs more coolant. You need a professional to add coolant because the EPA restricts the use of refrigerant to qualified HVAC technicians.
Avoid Problems With Annual Maintenance
An annual maintenance checkup helps to fix many issues before they become problems. Air conditioner manufacturers recommend a professional HVAC inspection of your system once a year. An expert looks for leaks, checks coolant levels, and points out any other problems with your unit.
A professional inspection includes thermostat calibration and adjustment, replacement of worn belts, and advice for improving efficiency and keeping your energy bill down. If the coolant is low, the technician can find the source of the leak and repair it.
Good maintenance is the key to avoiding breakdowns. No one likes a broken air conditioner during the summer. Always check the unit for obvious problems before calling a repair person. Many times, all you need is a simple fix to keep you cool.