A Quick Guide to Troubleshooting Your AC

A Quick Guide to Troubleshooting Your AC

Summer is known for a lot of good things. The outdoors is primed and ready for all sorts of activities, but more often than not, that sun overhead is a bit too overzealous in its job. At the end of the day, many of us just want to kick back in a comfortable spot, and enjoy a cool respite from the heat. You might however, find yourself with a bit of an issue when you go to crank up the cool, and find yourself without relief: What’s your first step with a broken AC unit? Before you go and call a HVAC contractor, or start hunting for your warranty, check up on a few things yourself to save yourself the hassle and expense!

With complex devices, sometimes it is the simple things that go wrong. Checking on the AC unit’s power should be a good first step. Central air outdoor units might be a bit harder to confirm, but a good check of the fuse box might lead you to spot a simple popped fuse. Window units are much easier to check up on, though be aware that some units might have a safety button, much like a fuse, on the housing of the plug. These might be triggered sometimes, in particularly humid locations by a build-up of condensation inside the unit, and while most are designed to be watertight, sometimes drainage can be hindered by leaves or other gunk. A bi-monthly check of any drainage ports can prevent more costly problems.

If power isn’t the issue, and the unit isn’t making any massive amounts of obnoxious noises, check to make sure the problem isn’t with the thermostat itself. Some models might be battery powered, in houses with central air, and something as minor as a pair of AA’s could get air back up and going again. Window units likely won’t have this issue, but still checking to make sure that there isn’t an issue with the AC’s ‘Mode’ or ‘Energy Saver’ settings being incorrectly active can also prove to be a quick fix. User’s manuals can usually be found online for just about any make or model, and sometimes all that’s needed is to press a couple buttons to ‘reset’ the computer brain of your air conditioning, getting you back up to speed. It may even help you identify ‘error codes’ (odd numbers and/or letters on the LCD display) that might aid you in finding the exact problem quickly.

If the unit is blowing air out that isn’t cold, or seems to be having issues with drawing in air to start with, checking the condenser coils (the fins along the back or sides of the unit) and the filter can be a good start. Debris can certainly wreak havoc on a system that relies on unobstructed air flow, and both the coils and the filter need regular cleaning. Once again, the user’s manual will often tell you exactly how to get at the filter, and the fins can often be cleaned with a simple spray of the garden hose.

If none of these hints seem to be solving the Case of the Busted Cooler, you might find yourself looking at more difficult options. DIY on an air conditioning unit might involve some complex troubleshooting, dismantling, electrical motor repair, unique parts, and even issues with coolants in some models. It might be more than worth it at that point to simply dial up a professional, or the retailer that sold you the model in question and see about getting a replacement. At the very least you’ll have some idea of what to look for first, to see if all it takes to get you out of the heat is a few button presses, new batteries, or a call to a pro.

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