In summertime, your air conditioner can be your best friend, making a space livable when otherwise it would be intolerable. An air conditioner can break down, however, and when it does, it leaves you in a very unpleasant situation. Fortunately, if this happens to you, there are some things you can try before calling in a technician.
When the Air Conditioner Doesn’t Condition
You know something is wrong when you turn on your air conditioner and nothing happens. Before you do anything else, check whether your unit’s fan is running. If it isn’t, you may simply need to reset the breaker. In the event that this does not fix the problem, consider replacing your blower belt or examining your thermostat.
An airless air conditioner is a problem, but an air conditioner that heats rather than cools is worse. If hot air or air that simply isn’t cool is coming out of your registers, try replacing your air filter to remove any impediments to the airflow.
At the same time, discard any foliage or trash that might be stopping up the unit. If these efforts don’t give the desired results, there are a number of other possibilities. For example, your unit may need more freon or refrigerant, or something could be obstructing your condensate drain.
Getting More Technical
Unfortunately, these problems could also be indications of other problems with your unit. If you need more refrigerant, for example, there may be a leak, which will require repairing before you can put more refrigerant into the system.
Should your unit itself have a leak, your first step should be to clean the condensate drain pipe of any debris or obstructive matter. Then use a bleach solution to flush out the pump system and make sure your electrical connections are in good shape. After you put the pump back, look closely for leaks from the condensation drain pipe.
Sometimes certain parts of the system simply stop working. When the compressor quits, add or remove refrigerant as needed, see that the condenser coil is clean, and examine the start capacitor for flaws. If all this doesn’t help, you may simply have to buy a new compressor.
When, on the other hand, the fan won’t start, try resetting the unit, and failing this, turn off the unit and test the spin of the fan clockwise. An easy spin suggests the necessity for buying a new capacitor. Similarly, if the problem is with the condenser, check your power source first. Should all be well in that respect, look to see if the unit has triggered any safety switches, such as that set off by low refrigerant. Low refrigerant may mean a leak.
Relatively minor problems also have their solutions. If, for example, you experience a range of temperatures from room to room, you can simply play with the dampers until you reach an even level of coolness. Likewise, if your thermostat never reads accurately, calibrate it; or, if you don’t want to undertake the burden of periodic calibrations, purchase and install a digital thermostat.
An air conditioner requires careful attention and maintenance to keep running smoothly. The best solution to all these problems is preventative. If you schedule a yearly inspection, you can keep your unit from failing and bringing on the heat.
Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.