5 tips from Texas.
In Texas, having a fully functional air conditioner is not a luxury. It is a necessity. We depend on our air conditioning systems to keep us not only cool and comfortable during the Summer heat, but also keep us healthy and alive. So, it is easy to understand the panic one feels when they find the temperature in their home has crept up beyond what they have deemed desirable.
There are many reasons why an air conditioning system may not be performing as you would expect it to. Some of these issues may be complex and require the assistance of an experienced hvac professional to diagnose and remedy properly. However, many issues may be remedied through some basic diagnostic skills of the average homeowner with very little professional skills being necessary.
Listed below are a few basic steps any homeowner can take in trying to solve this problem themselves or at least to help them have an idea of what may be going on with their air conditioner.
- Dirty Air Filter- Regular maintenance is key to keeping your home’s air conditioning system running at peak efficiently and reducing breakdowns. The first thing we always recommend somebody calling in to our company with a question about their system not performing is “have you replaced your air filter in the last 30 days”. If the answer is “no”, this is as good of a place as any to begin your troubleshooting duties. The air filter may be placed in a number of different places depending on your home’s unique set up. In Texas, they are typically located in one of three places. If the indoor blower unit is located in a closet, you may find the filter housed in a filter rack located under the indoor unit itself. This will typically have a door on it that can be opened to reveal the air filter inside. If the indoor blower unit is located in an attic, the filter may be found near the unit in a box with a door on it that houses the air filter. Sometimes the air filter may be located inside of a vent in the ceiling. This is called a filter grille. Please feel free to reach out to us if you would like help locating your air filter. It is important to note that every system should be equipped with an air filter.
If you find that the air filter is caked with dirt build up we recommend turning the system off for 2-4 hours before turning back on. A dirty air filter causes low air flow across your evaporator coil. This can create a situation where the evaporator coil will ice up. Until the ice has thawed from the evaporator coil, the system will not cool properly.
Pro tip: Did you know that the arrow on the air filter faces toward the equipment, in the direction of air flow? Carefully insert your clean air filter correctly to ensure proper air flow.
- Tripped Breaker– Ok so your air filter is clean but you still are not seeing any results. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with what is happening so we can begin to narrow things down. Take a look at the outside unit to see if the fan is spinning on your condenser. If it is not, check your breaker labeled “AC” in the breaker panel. It could be as easy as resetting your breaker. (If the breaker is tripped and you reset it and it trips again, we recommend calling a professional for a more in depth diagnostic)
- Dead batteries – Many thermostats require batteries to operate. If you don’t remember the last time you changed the batteries in your thermostat, it is possible this is the only thing you need to replace to restore power to your home’s air conditioning system. Most thermostats will pop off the wall with relatively little force, thus revealing the batteries. Try replacing these batteries and seeing if this corrects your problem.
- Dirty Condenser Coils-Take a look at the coils on the outside unit. Oftentimes you may have to look behind the metal grades that serve as hail protection to see these. If you find they are caked with dirt, try rinsing these coils with a water hose. Be careful not to damage any of the fins while rinsing these. We recommend using a water hose with a nozzle attachment to regulate the pressure of the water. A quick rinse of the condenser coil may be all that is needed to bring your home’s air conditioning system back to life. If you have any questions on how to clean your condenser coil, please feel welcome to give us a call and we will walk you through the process step by step! After getting as much of the dirt and debris off of the coils we would still typically encourage a professional maintenance to expand on the work you have already done.
- You have a switch off– Is the unit doing nothing at all? No action from the indoor unit or the outdoor unit? Oftentimes we find that in the process of performing work in an attic, somebody may have accidentally turned the switch off to their furnace. These switches can easily be mistaken for light switches. If you have had anybody performing any work in the attic recently (pest control, cable company, husband (: etc) it is possible they may have accidentally turned this switch off. Take a peek in the attic and look for any switches that may be in the “off” position. Restoring power to your indoor unit may solve your problem and save you some money on a service call!
Of course there are times when more experienced help may be required. In those situations we are more than happy to assist in every way we can to ensure you and your family stay cool and comfortable all summer long.