How to Troubleshoot Common AC Problems

How to Troubleshoot Common AC ProblemsIt’s an unfortunate fact that people tend to be intimidated by their HVAC equipment. They believe it’s so complex that they can’t understand it, and as soon as something goes wrong they’re immediately on the phone with their HVAC contractor, pleading for help.

There are, of course, many situations when trained HVAC technicians do need to be summoned. But in other cases you are perfectly capable of doing your own troubleshooting, and it doesn’t require any technical expertise to do it, either.

What we’ll introduce you to here are some air conditioner troubleshooting tips that can help you get your HVAC contractor off speed dial, effective immediately.

Problem #1: Your air conditioner is running, but it isn’t actually cooling your home.

When an air conditioner isn’t cooling, there could be a number of reasons:

  • The evaporator coil may be covered in grease, grime, or dirt. The evaporator is located near the air handler, and is made from curving, looping metallic tubes. If it is dirty, be sure to shut the power off to the air conditioner before trying to clean it.
  • The condenser may be blocked off. Weeds, piled debris, or physical objects located within two feet of the condenser may cut off the air flow and inhibit its ability to function.
  • The thermostat may be set to ON instead of AUTO. If this happens the fan will fire up but the AC will remain off.

If troubleshooting doesn’t work, the most likely explanation is that your AC has developed a refrigerant leak. That means you’ll need to bring in a trained HVAC technician to seal the leak and recharge the system with fresh refrigerant.

Problem #2: Your air conditioner is constantly shutting on and off.

Poor thermostat placement can cause short cycling. If it’s near a vent, it may think the temperature in the room matches the temperature of the air exiting the vent, which will trigger a premature shut-off.

Another common cause of short cycling is having a dirty air filter. You should change your filter at the beginning of the summer cooling season anyway, and if you haven’t yet done so your troubleshooting routine will give you a good excuse.

And once again, a dirty evaporator coil or a blocked condenser could cause this sort of trouble.

Unfortunately, if none of this checks out you may have an air conditioner that is too large for your home, which means your HVAC contractor did a lousy job of sizing your cooling system.

Problem #3: The indoor blower motor is working, but the condenser won’t run.

First, you should check to make sure the condenser is plugged in and receiving power. Next, you should look to see if a fuse has been blown or the circuit breaker tripped.

If the power supply is connected, and the condenser won’t run even at a super-low thermostat setting, it could mean that something is wrong with the compressor. When compressor breakdown is suspected,  you should call in the professionals as quickly as possible.

Problem #4: The air conditioner won’t start at all.

When you can’t get the air conditioner to go, the first thing to do is check the thermostat, to make sure it is set to ‘cool’ and is programmed for a low enough temperature.

If reducing the setting even further gets no response, you’ll need to examine the condensate pump (if your unit has one, read the owner’s manual to find out). It shouldn’t be full of water, but if it is that may have caused an automatic shutdown of your cooling system.

That may be fixable if you simply clean out the pump to combat any further clogging, but it could mean that you need to purchase a new pump from your HVAC dealer.

Northern Climate Control is Your Last Line of Defense

Troubleshooting often works, but if it doesn’t you should contact us at Northern Climate Control right away. In the Denver Metro Area our reputation for superior service is unmatched, and no matter what is happening with your air conditioner we will identify the problem and repair it.

If you have any questions about troubleshooting don’t hesitate to call, we can answer your questions and offer you advice on how to properly maintain your HVAC equipment.