4 Steps to Troubleshoot Your Air Conditioner

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Why is it that your air conditioner stops working when you need it most? Probably because you only discover problems when you’re running it at full force. That’s why HVAC system maintenance is so important. But if you find yourself sweltering on a 90+ day, you don’t want to know what you should’ve done; you want to know what to do now! Learn how you can troubleshoot your air conditioner.

1. Make Sure Your Air Conditioner Receives Power

This may sound like a no-brainer, but it’s one of the most common issues. For single units, this means taking a look to make certain the air conditioner is plugged in and the outlet has power. For central air conditioning systems, check its main electrical panel or the household fuses and breakers. If a fuse is blown, replace it; if a breaker is tripped, reset it. If the AC unit continues to cause a power trip, you’ll need to contact an electrician. Remember, fuses and breakers are safety mechanisms so do not ignore warning signs that could let you know about bigger issues.

2. Set the Thermostat to Cool

Is the temperature of the room far hotter than what you’ve set on the AC? If your thermostat isn’t working, it might be the same common problem the unit often has: it’s not getting power. Make sure it’s connected to power, that there are no blown fuses, tripped breakers, or dead batteries. Check for loose or disconnected wires.

Another reason thermostats often malfunction is that they’re dirty. Household dust can interfere with their electrical and mechanical functions. Simply use a soft cloth to gently wipe your thermostat clean, or use a can of compressed air to spray dust and dirt away. If it still doesn’t seem to be working properly, it may be time to replace it.

3. Check the Air Conditioner’s Condensate Overflow Switch

Air conditioners pull moisture from the air through a drain line. Excess water collects in a drain pan which has a condensate overflow switch. This switch will shut your unit if too much water collects. It helps prevent water/mold damage so it’s an important AC component. However, if it’s not working properly you could be without air conditioning on the hottest days of the year. If it’s tripping for no reason, it may be dirty or clogged—or broken. Use an OHM meter to test yours, and replace it if you need to.

4. Replace the Air Conditioner Filters

Sometimes your air conditioner is running, just not well. That may be an indication that your filters need to be cleaned or replaced. Dirty air filters restrict air flow, causing the unit to work harder than it needs to and run inefficiently. It can also trip fuses or circuit breakers. Shut your unit off and replace old filters. You’ll also want to clean dirty condenser coils so the coolant in your unit can work the way it was intended.

Through regular AC maintenance, you can keep your air conditioner running well for years and have it when you need it most. Are you ready to perform some routine maintenance tasks yourself? Then you might also be interested in a HVAC-R training program. Fill out the form and Charter College will answer all your questions on how to train for a HVAC-R career.