The Ultimate Guide to Troubleshooting Your AC
Is your AC not blowing cold air like it should? Don't sweat it (pun intended)! While it's almost always better and easier to call on a technician, some AC issues can be fixed yourself if you know what to look for. Follow this ultimate guide to troubleshoot common AC problems so you can get your system up and running again.
Check Air Filter
When troubleshooting your AC unit, the first thing to check is the air filter. A dirty filter blocks airflow, preventing the AC from cooling properly. Turn off the AC and remove the filter (usually found behind the front grille). If it's visibly dirty, replace it with a new one. If it looks clean, move on to the next step.
Check Power Supply
Make sure the AC unit is getting power. Check your main electrical panel for a tripped breaker or blown fuse and reset/replace if needed. Verify the unit is plugged in or that the disconnect switch is on. Test the outlet with a voltage tester to confirm power is flowing. If the AC still won't turn on, you likely have an electrical issue that requires a professional.
Look for Frozen Coils
A frozen evaporator coil can mimic a loss of cooling. Turn the AC off and check the outdoor unit for ice buildup on the coils. If they are frosted over, turn the AC fan on (not cooling) to melt the ice. Frozen coils indicate low refrigerant levels and will require an ac technician to inspect and recharge the system.
Check Refrigerant Levels
Low refrigerant levels are another common reason an AC won't blow cold air. Inspect the refrigerant lines to see if any areas feel abnormally cold, which could signal a leak. Refrigerant levels can only be properly checked using gauges. You'll need to call an HVAC technician to test pressure and add refrigerant if low.
Clean Condenser Coils
Dirty condenser coils block the proper airflow and reduce the cooling efficiency. Turn off the power to the unit and use a hose with a spray nozzle to gently clean debris off the coils. Make sure not to bend the fragile coils. Straighten bent coils with a plastic comb. Also, trim overgrown vegetation or debris around the unit.
The AC capacitor stores energy and helps start the outdoor compressor. If it fails, the compressor may not turn on. Capacitors are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace. Just make sure to get an exact replacement and disconnect the power before swapping it out.
Check Drain Line
Clogged drain lines prevent condensate from properly draining, which can reduce cooling. Unplug the drain and use a wet/dry vacuum to clear the line. Pour distilled vinegar or AC drain cleaner down the line to kill algae and prevent future clogs. Make sure the drain line slopes downward so water can exit.
Call a Technician for Complex Issues
While many AC problems can be DIY fixes, more complex electrical or refrigerant issues require a trained HVAC technician. If you've checked all the above and your system still doesn't work, it's best to call a pro. Many companies offer maintenance plans to keep your AC in top shape.
With this guide, you can troubleshoot many common AC problems yourself. But don't hesitate to call in a professional for tricky repairs or complex electrical issues. Follow these tips to keep your home cool and comfortable all summer long! Let us know if you have any other AC troubleshooting tricks. Stay chill!