Have you ever been in a sticky situation where your AC unit is ruining your day? You’re in the middle of a heat wave, the AC is malfunctioning and you’re getting frustrated. We understand your plight and have got you covered. We look at some of the common causes of AC malfunction and how to fix them. Your AC will be blowing cold air in no time if you follow these easy steps.
1. Check your Thermostat
Check the settings in your thermostat. If it is set to ‘auto’ try setting it to ‘on’ and see if it makes a difference. When setting to ‘auto’ the thermostat sometimes runs the fans without cooling the air thereby blowing warm air instead of cool. If nothing changes, a simple reset should do the trick. Different models have different reset procedures so consult the user manual or look up the procedure online.
2. Check the Air Filters
A dirty/clogged air filter restricts airflow into your home. Dust, stuffiness and an overall reduction in air quality are the main symptoms you should look out for if your air filter is clogged. If dirty air filters remain unchanged, evaporated coils get frozen which slows down and eventually stops cold air from getting into your house. Always check the condition of your AC filter and replace it every 30 to 90 days depending on its condition.
3. Check the Condenser (Outdoor Unit)
If the condenser is dirty, you will experience identical problems with a clogged filter. The restricted air flow causes the outdoor unit to overwork which results in overheating. The overheating will also run your energy bill high without receiving the cool air you’re paying for.
Rinse your condenser using a gentle spray. Add detergent in water and use a soft cloth to remove stubborn dirt. Gently rinse it while taking care not to damage its brittle aluminum fins. Remember that a clean condenser operates optimally thereby cools faster and gives longer service. Also remember to cover it in a weatherproof material when not in use.
Problems that Require Professional Attention
If up to this point your AC is still not blowing cold air, it might be time to call a HVAC specialist. Here are some possible AC faults that require technical expertise of professionals to fix.
4. Damaged Air Ducts
Damaged air ducts leak out cold air before it reaches your ventilation ducts. HVAC professionals use special tools to diagnose leaky air ducts by measuring different air pressure levels in the ducts. Possible causes of leaky air ducts include normal wear, rodents, and even poor construction techniques.
5. Mechanical Problems
AC Condensers are exposed to harsh conditions and need regular maintenance to operate optimally. Condenser fans spin for long hours at a time and are usually the first mechanical part to break. When they break, the condenser loses its ability to dissipate heat and cool your house.
Another common problem is a faulty compressor. The job of a compressor is to circulate refrigerant throughout the outdoor and indoor unit. If broken, the refrigerant stays dormant thereby cooling cannot take place. Both parts are too sensitive for a DIY repair.
6. Refrigerant Level
Refrigerant is circulated through the indoor and outdoor units carrying hot air and replacing it with cool air. Refrigerant is not meant to be topped up. If the level goes down, it is more than likely that the refrigerant duct is leaking. Here are a few ways to detect a leaky refrigerator duct:
- Bubbling or hissing sound when AC is on
- Buildup of ice on the refrigerant lines
- General decrease in cool air
- Struggle to cool your home requiring longer run times
Shut off your AC and call a professional if you notice these signs. It will prevent you from damaging your compressor. Leave it to trained professionals and their specialized tools to detect, repair or replace leaky refrigerant ducts.
Maintenance Tips for AC Units
Keep your AC Unit in tip-top condition by following these maintenance tips:
- Cover it with weatherproof material when not in use
- Replace air filters every 30 to 90 days
- Clean the outdoor unit regularly to prevent clogging the aluminum fins
- Keep the area around the condenser neat and tidy. Weed out bushes and trim overhanging branches.
Repairing your broken-down AC unit can be as simple as doing your own DIY repairs. It can also cost you a pretty penny and hours of headache if you neglect carrying out the required maintenance routines.