As summer kicks into gear, many parts of the country are preparing to turn on their air conditioners for the season.
Air conditioning is essential as the weather heats up, especially in areas with high humidity. One of the biggest nightmares a homeowner can face in the height of summer is an air conditioner malfunction.
Going without cool air for days or weeks before the problem can be fixed, and paying hundreds of dollars, is one of the worst summer experiences. However, if your air conditioner is having problems, all might not be lost.
Many air conditioner issues are fairly simple and can be fixed without the help of a mechanic. Before you call for help, try these simple fixes.
You may save yourself quite a bit of money!
If your air conditioner is failing to turn on at all, there are a few things to check. First, make sure that your unit is actually receiving power.
Sometimes, people call a repairman before realizing that the plug got knocked out! Even if the plug is in the wall though, the problem could be with the outlet or fuses/circuit breaker.
A quick way to check is to plug something you know is working into the same outlet. If that device does not work either, you know you have a problem with your outlet giving power, not with your air conditioning unit.
If it is getting power, but still failing to turn on, it could simply be that your thermostat is set too high.
Perhaps the unit is measuring the ambient air incorrectly and thinks that it is already cold enough. It could also be that the room feels warmer to you than it really is.
Try dropping your temperature setting by twenty degrees and see if it kicks on. If so, you know that there may be a problem with the thermometer inside the unit, but nothing wrong with the cooling mechanism at all.
If your air conditioner still won’t start running after trying these solutions, it is likely that there is a part that will need to be replaced.
Call a professional air conditioner maintenance person for more information.
Running But Cooling Poorly
If your AC is running but the air is not cooling as quickly as it should, it could again be that your thermostat setting is a bit too high.
Some AC units will kick into a higher rate of cooling when the air is much warmer than the temperature they are set for.
Again, there could be a problem with the sensor that determines the ambient air.
If turning down the thermostat doesn’t cause the unit to cool any more effectively, the problem could be dirty evaporator coils.
The evaporator coils are responsible for capturing the heat from the inside air, to be released outdoors.
Over time, evaporator coils will accumulate dirt and grime, which stops them from working as efficiently.
Reduced air conditioner efficiency is one of the main symptoms of dirty coils.
To clean your evaporator coils, usually a can of compressed air is enough to blow off the excess dirt and debris.
However, if they are dirty enough to be impairing the air conditioner’s ability to function, you will probably need to use a brush this time.
Choose a soft bristle brush and sweep away dirt, stopping to scrub away more stubborn obstructions.
If your air conditioner still is not cooling well after cleaning the coils, it may need a replacement part, or simply be too small for your home.
Call a professional to help you assess the situation and decide the best way to move forward.
Running But Not Cooling At All
If the air coming out of your air conditioner system is room temperature, and running it has no effect on the temperature of your home, there are a number of possible problems. Often, a failure to cool air is related to the condenser system.
The condenser is the part of the AC unit that is outside the home. The condenser is responsible for pulling the heat gathered by the evaporator and releasing it outside.
The first thing to check is if the condenser is physically obstructed in some way. Weeds, grasses, and vines can grow up over the condenser over time, which will stop air from traveling through it efficiently.
This can badly impair the function of your air conditioner. To solve this, clear the obstructions.
You may also need to clean the condenser unit. Look for “fins,” which are narrow strips of metal aligned horizontally, through which air is pulled.
Fins often get clogged up with debris like dirt, leaves, and seeds over time. Make sure that the fins are aligned and free of obstruction.
If cleaning the condenser does not help, then it could be a very bad case of a dirty evaporator. See the above section for advice on dealing with dirty evaporator coils.
Finally, the issue could be faulty parts, like a broken condenser system, or an insufficient level of TdX 20 refrigerant. These are both jobs for a professional, so if none of the other solutions here work, it is time to get help.
If your AC unit is broken, there is a good chance you can fix it on your own. Before calling an expensive repair service, go through this checklist and see what you can do by yourself.
Often, air conditioner malfunction is simply a result of poor maintenance. If you have these problems often, remember that you should be cleaning off your evaporator coils and condenser fins at least twice a year, before and after the season during which you run the AC.
If your unit is more prone to gathering dust and debris, you may need to clean it as often as once a month. Keep an eye on your evaporator coils and condenser fins and keep them clear of grime and obstructions.
Regular maintenance will not only make your air conditioner more effective, but it will also last a lot longer!