Home Maintenance Tips: Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner Unit

[fa icon="calendar"] August 19, 2015 / by Home Services Expert

fix_it_yourself_iconAt this time of year, the “heat” in our customers' voices is unmistakable. The issue may vary, but their “battle cry” often runs along the lines of, “Help! There's something wrong with my air conditioner!”

Experts In Your Home always responds to this cry for help by asking a few pointed questions. Granted, this isn't always what our customers want to hear; sometimes, they just want to know at what time we will arrive at their home to fix the problem.

But if there ever was a time for people to “hold their horses,” this is it. Experts In Your Home asks questions because oftentimes, with a little information from a customer, we can offer home maintenance tips for your air conditioner that may alleviate the need for a service call. And we think this is rather...cool.

In the end, it's called troubleshooting. And what we think is extra cool about teaching our customers about air conditioner troubleshooting is that they can take the lessons learned from one experience and apply them to future scenarios. After all, there's nothing like a panic moment with an air conditioner to make a lesson stick.

Here are some of the more common battle cries we hear – and the troubleshooting measures you can take that just might save you a service call:

Cry for help: My air conditioner won't turn on!

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Check the thermostat to ensure that it’s set to “cool” and that the temperature you have it set at falls below the current room temperature.

  • Check the circuit breaker and trip it, if necessary.

  • Check the filter, and don't just eyeball it; slide it out and take a good look at it. If it's overflowing with dust and dirt, replace it with a clean one. This is why it's always smart to keep an extra filter or two on hand - even though you might be in the habit of changing your filter only once every three months during the summer, it might pick up extra airborne particles during “high season,” necessitating more frequent changes.

Cry for help: My air conditioner still won't turn on!

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Zero in on the thermostat by setting it several degrees lower. For example, even if your thermostat is set at 74 degrees and the reading says 78 degrees, turn down the thermostat to 70 degrees. If the air conditioner doesn't turn on, the thermostat might need to be calibrated or replaced.

  • Check the area around the outdoor unit, known as the condenser. Grass and weeds can grow quickly during the summer – and infiltrate the unit and put a choke hold on the components. Clear any obstructions and, while you're there, ensure there is a 2-foot clear zone around the condenser and an 8-foot zone above it to foster proper air flow.

Cry for help: My air conditioner is running, but the air coming from the registers isn't cool!

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Check the thermostat, filter and the condenser, as outlined above.

  • Inspect your ductwork for disconnections and damage, including cracks, crimps and gaping holes. Repair minor problems with mastic tape, not duct tape. About 20 percent of the air that moves through the ducts in most homes is lost because of leaks and damage, so it’s important to inspect the tricky segments and repair the bigger problems.

Cry for help: My air conditioner is running, but it still feels muggy in here!

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Check the registers in your home to ensure that they're not blocked by furniture, window treatments or other objects.

  • Check your windows to ensure that they're completely closed. Lower your storm windows, if you have them, to keep the warm air out.

Cry for help: My air conditioner is driving me crazy; it keeps turning on and off!

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Check the condenser, as outlined above.

  • Call Experts In Your Home for a maintenance call. Your air conditioner may be suffering from an abundance of dirty buildup on the blower motor or evaporator that is undermining its efficiency.

Annual tune-up is vital

We've said it many times before, but it truly is one of the most important home maintenance tips - a yearly tune-up is the most proactive step you can take to ensure that your air conditioner functions reliably, as it should. This is when we give your air conditioner a thorough inspection. It’s also not uncommon to uncover “hidden” issues that simply cannot be spotted during simple troubleshooting steps, especially with regard to refrigerant, wiring and electronic issues.

Remember, too, that even an air conditioner that has been properly sized for a home may be unable to keep up with demand. For example, our Expert technicians have checked out air conditioners that are well maintained but struggle to cool down a home, say, to 65 degrees when it's more than 100 degrees outside (especially if all the window treatments are open and sunlight is basking a home in warmth).

No matter what, Experts In Your Home will respond to your battle cry and get to the bottom of what's ailing your air conditioner – and maybe even teach you helpful troubleshooting home maintenance tips in the process. 

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