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How to Troubleshoot Your AC

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What can you do when your AC unit is not working right? Take a look at this short guide on how you can troubleshoot your AC unit before calling a professional. You'll learn basic things about how to operate a malfunctioning air conditioner and how to make it work again, without a service call.

Let's jump right into this tutorial:

Before doing any repair work, you'll have to identify why your air conditioner doesn't work properly. AC units are fairly complicated machines, and there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Here are some common problems you can encounter and possible fixes:

1. Air conditioner not working at all – you turn it on, and nothing

If you cannot turn the AC unit on, the most likely causes include blown fuses, improperly set thermostat or a damaged internal switch. Here are some possible solutions to these problems:

• turn the thermostat to COOL; make sure it's not set to OFF or HEAT

• check out the room's temperature and the thermostat temperature, which should be lower – this causes a demand for cooler air

• check the internal circuits and the breakers; they should be on the ON position; replace any blown fuses or damaged wires

• check other switches around the AC unit and make sure all are turned ON

• check the water condensation tray – some AC units don't work when the tray is filled. In this case, there is a switch that is automatically turned OFF     when filled

• make sure the blower door near the air handler is closed

2. Poor air flow

Your AC is working, but the air flow is poor and cooling a room takes much more time than usual. This can be because the air filter is dirty and needs cleaning. In this case you can do the following:

• check the air filter; if it's dirty, clean it or replace it completely

• if the air filter looks clean, check out the ducts and pipes; some of them can be crooked, damaged or perforated;

• check the dampers and vents to make sure they are set in the correct OPEN position

3. The AC unit doesn't dehumidify the air efficiently

When an AC unit fails to dehumidify a room, it's usually because the unit is oversized. This is because the air is cooled so fast that the dehumidification process fails to complete. The unit will try to start and stop repeatedly to dehumidify the air, but the air will still feel too humid. Basically, the thermostat tells the unit that the air is cool enough, but the humidity remains a problem. The only solution to this problem is to reinstall a smaller AC unit. Ideally, you should ask for professional help when buying a new air conditioner, but you can do it on your own.

If the AC unit is correctly sized, your home may be excessively humid. This may be caused by leakage, open windows, and drainage issues. Check out whether your AC unit produces enough condensate. Here are other solutions:

• close your windows and doors to make sure no humid air gets into your room

• make sure the condensation unit is properly working

• if nothing works, use a separate dehumidifier

4. Cooling takes too long and the AC unit struggles

If cooling a room takes too long, the AC unit might be too old and the compressor might be worn out. Basically, the compressor lost its ability to compress the refrigerant agent. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to repair the AC unit if this is the problem. Only a professional technician should attempt to replace the compressor.

All in all, AC units are fairly complex machines but there is some basic troubleshooting that every homeowner should know. If you are lucky, your air conditioner only needs a little cleaning or a switch is off, so you can repair it on your own. However, for any serious issue, like a damaged compressor, you should call Bob Heinmiller AC.

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