Saturday, June 16, 2012

It’s 100 degrees outside and I have no AC!!!


Oh no! It’s summertime and your cooling system is not working.  What do you do?  Before calling for service, you may first want to try these simple items. 

The HVAC servicing companies are extremely busy this time of year and you may be able to avoid the service call.  I have learned these by trial and error and by watching my technicians throughout the years as a builder and a homeowner.


Before you call for repair:

  1. Check Thermostat.  Is it set in the correct mode?  Verify that it is set to the cooling mode and that you are setting it below the current temperature.  Many homes now have digital thermostats so you may also want to replace the batteries.  Most systems have a built in time delay, so wait a few minutes after making any adjustments to see if your system comes on.
  2. Check your airflow.  First, see if something is blocking your supply or return air registers.  If not, then check the filter.  If the filter is dirty, replace it now.  Also, check to see if there is ice on the indoor coils or refrigerant lines.  The evaporator and refrigerant lines can freeze if there is not enough airflow.  If you find ice, change your filters and turn your thermostat to “fan only” for a while to allow the frozen coil to thaw out.  Then after a while, turn your thermostat to "cooling" to see if this solves your problem.
  3. Check your breakers.  Sometimes resetting the breaker is all that is needed to get your HVAC system running again.  Find your electrical panel box and locate the breakers that say AC, Furnace, or something similar.  Turn these breakers off and then back on.  You can also do this with your disconnect switches that are by each unit outdoors or indoors.  If they keep tripping, then you need to call for service.  If they stay in place and this was the problem, the system should come back on in around 5 minutes.
  4. Check the outdoor temperature. Most air conditioners are only able to cool the air about 20 degrees from what the outdoor air temperature is. On a very hot day, if your air conditioner seems to be struggling to keep up, just be patient and try to avoid activities that can heat up the house.  If you know it is going to be a 100 degree day, let the system have a head start by pre-cooling the home earlier in the day rather than turning it on in the afternoon.
  5. Check if drain line is backed up.  At your indoor unit there is a condensate drain system.  If you know enough about the system, you can try to flush it with a vacuum or blow it out with a water hose.  If this clears the problem, the system should auto-set in about 5 minutes.

If none of these solutions work, then it is time to call the professionals.
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