Troubleshoot Your Air Conditioning System
April 28, 2011
Hot summer days are headed our way. Now is a good time to understand not only the problems that your air conditioning system might experience but also how you might be able to troubleshoot the problem before calling a technician. Bottom line, in many instances you can catch a problem ahead of time just by having regular maintenance performed before summer starts. Your technician can catch something before it becomes a problem and the inspection process itself makes sure that your air conditioner is cleaned, oiled, that electrical connections are intact, and performing at its most efficient before the hottest days of summer hit and create the most demand upon your system. Causes of Most Common A/C Problems:
- Lack of maintenance. Main cause of unexpected breakdowns, decreased comfort and increased energy costs, not to mention homeowners’ frustration due to extra time, effort and money on their part.
- Dirty or clogged filters. Dirty filters will restrict air flow, making your system work harder to keep you cool while increasing your energy bills. A clean filter prevents dust and dirt from building up in the system which could otherwise lead to expensive maintenance and/or early system failure.
- Airflow problems. Keep the area around your outdoor condensing unit clean and clear of any debris. Debris such as leaves, cut grass, bushes or plants can obstruct the outdoor coil and cause expensive repairs.
- Thermostat malfunctions. This can prevent cooling, fan problems or problems with your overall comfort level.
Troubleshooting your system:
- Thermostat settings. First, check to make sure your thermostat is set on “Cool” with the fan switch set to “Auto” or “On”. Set the thermostat lower than the room temperature to make sure your air conditioning system will start up.
- Programmable Thermostat settings. If you have a programmable thermostat check for the correct day and time settings to see if the system has entered a program period with an undesirable setting that needs modification.
- Inspect the circuit breaker. If the thermostat seems fine, you need to check the circuit breaker box to determine if the breaker for your air conditioning system has been tripped or if a fuse has blown. Some breakers appear “on” when not fully engaged. Flip the correct breaker off and on again.
- Examine airflow. Supply and return grates should be unobstructed. Blocked grills make a room too hot or too cold. If supply and return openings are clear, check for dirty air filter and replace or clean, as necessary. Air filters should be checked on a monthly basis to insure that they are dust and debris free. A dirty air filter will decrease the efficiency of your air conditioning system, decrease the quality of air distributed to your home, and can cause breakdowns in your system. Last, check the area around the outdoor condensing unit and clear away any debris.
If you’ve tried these steps and are still experiencing problems, contact your service technician.
Last Updated: September 13, 2023