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How to Repair an Air Conditioning Unit
How to Repair an Air Conditioning Unit

Home Improvement

How to Repair an Air Conditioning Unit

Turning on your AC only to find out that it’s not cooling can be disappointing. Depending on the temperature inside of your home, it can also be frustrating. While there are various air conditioning services that can be performed, there are also some DIY solutions that you may want to try first. It can help you get your unit up and running quickly without having to pay for a service call.

Have the Right Tools

If you’re going to attempt an AC repair, there are a few tools you’ll want to have available:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Cordless drill
  • Insulated screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • Voltage tester
  • Multimeter

It’s also a good idea to have a few other materials handy. This includes a capacitor, compressed air, and fuses. Based on what is wrong, you may need a few other parts – but you won’t know until you diagnose the problem.

Follow a Few Important Steps

When you’re going to start diagnosing the problem, there are a few steps you should follow to ensure you identify the correct problem. Be sure to take the necessary precautions, too, so you don’t risk getting electrocuted.

First, check your thermostat to find out if the problem is in the AC or in the furnace. Second, be sure that your thermostat has fresh batteries. Often, an AC unit won’t work properly because the thermostat itself is damaged.

After that, see if you’re getting sufficient power to the unit. You can check both the main electrical panel as well as any secondary circuit panels for the unit. Look to see if there is a blown fuse or a tripped breaker. If you find that the breaker is continuously tripping, there may be a short in the system – and an electrician or HVAC contractor should be called in.

Next, you’ll want to check the outside condensing unit. Once you’ve set the thermostat for the AC to kick on, you should hear the compressor and fan running outside. If you don’t, you’ll want to get into the access panel outside.

If you’re going to open the access panel, turn off the AC as well as the furnace breakers. Then, use a voltage tester to make sure the power is off.

Learn the anatomy of your AC unit, both inside and out. If a part looks worn out, you’ll want to replace it. Generally, the two parts that are most likely to fail are located in the outside unit. This includes the AC contactor (relay) and start/run capacitor. Both are affordable, so it can be an easy fix without costing you a lot of money.

Conduct Some Basic Maintenance

Often, units stop working or stop working effectively when they haven’t been properly maintained. You can handle quite a bit of the maintenance on your own. By cleaning things out, it may be enough to get the system up and running again.

Change out the air filter(s). If the air filters are dirty, it can make it hard for enough air to circulate into the system.

Clean the evaporator, which is typically located above the furnace. You’ll want to remove the foil-wrapped insulation in front of the plenum in order to access the evaporator. Once you’ve accessed it, clean the underside with a stiff brush. Then, place 1 tablespoon of bleach into the weep hole. Clean the tray below the unit with a damp rag.

Clean the condenser, which is on the outside of the house. You will want to clean the coil and get rid of any dirt and debris that may be preventing the fan from moving properly.

As you look at the outside units, be sure they’re not being overcrowded by plants. There should be at least two feet of clearance so that there’s adequate airflow.

Finally, check on the insulation of the freon lines. If there’s damaged/missing insulation, work on replacing all of that. Don’t attempt to charge your system’s refrigerant lines on your own. If you are low on Freon or suspect that there’s a leak, call a professional.

Troubleshoot Common Problems

One of the easiest ways to fix your AC quickly is by troubleshooting the problem. Figure out what’s going on to prevent your AC from working properly. The unit may not be powering up at all, it may be blowing hot air, or there may be another issue.

AC is blowing warm/hot air: There may be an issue with the condensate drain line, you may need a new air filter, or there may be low refrigerant levels.

The furnace is blowing cool/cold air: The furnace filter may need to be replaced or you may need to relight the pilot light.

The thermostat isn’t working: The battery may need to be replaced, there may be low voltage caused by a wiring problem, or the thermostat may be having issues because it is placed too close to direct sunlight.

Airflow is weak: The vents may be dirty or the dampers may not be open to the widest position.

You can also consult the owner’s manual for your system for additional troubleshooting tips.

Contact an Air Conditioning Repair Professional

While some air conditioning repairs can be handled on your own, there may come a point where you are out of your league. DIY repairs are not highly recommended because there are various electrical components. You don’t want to risk a fire or electrocute yourself.

By contacting an air conditioning repair company like Calaway Heating & Air, you’re able to get the AC unit diagnosed. Additionally, a licensed, certified HVAC technician can perform the repair. It ensures that you get the necessary air conditioning services performed without wondering if you have identified all of the problems on your own.

Maintaining a working unit is critical. As you learn how to identify problems, you can choose to make some repairs on your own. When the system is down and you don’t know what’s going on, the best thing that you can do is call a professional.

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