Why is My AC Not Working?
We have all been there. And it is one of the worst experiences we can imagine. The air conditioning system fails on what seems like the hottest day on record. The only thing worse than the muggy summer weather outside is the sweltering heat inside the home. Sleep is going out of the question, so hopefully you can get your local HVAC company to come out the same day. Otherwise, it will be a restless night until someone is able to rescue your family from another sweaty, miserable day.
Here at American Airflow, we understand how important a timely response can be when you and your family are suffering in discomfort. That is why our Comfort Care members qualify for same day technician visits during regular business hours and discounted emergency after-hours calls. If the call is urgent and you do not have cool air in your home, we will be out there in a matter of hours, not days. Same day service is important to us because we know that if it was our family that was uncomfortable and in a dangerous situation, we would expect nothing less. But before you make that call, you might want to double check a few things yourself to make sure that a technician visit is necessary.
First things first, we want to take a look at the thermostat. I know that sounds funny, but you would be amazed at the number of emergency calls have been solved in under five minutes by the technician glancing at the thermostat. It needs to be on COOL (not heat, of course) and the set temperature should be below the current room temperature. Do not forget to replace the batteries in your thermostat when necessary and if you are unfamiliar with the warning signal for a low battery, refer to the owner’s manual. Typically this information is readily available online via a quick search of the manufacturer website.
If you are not already, you should be changing your air filters every three months. They are often replaced during routine maintenance services every year, but we suggest switching them out every season to keep your air flowing clean and strong. A clogged air filter can cause the air conditioning system to overwork and eventually fail. This is going to cause unnecessary wear and tear on your machines and lead to costly repairs. If your home is not getting as cool as it should be, it could be as simple as replacing the air filters for a few bucks. Ask your local HVAC technician to show you where they are located and how to replace them yourself.
Before you place that emergency call, you definitely want to make sure that all units are getting power. You should check the circuit breakers – or “fuse boxes” like we used to call them – to see if one was accidentally turned off. They should be clearly marked with “A/C” or “air conditioning” and all you need to do is flip the switch to see if the power returns to the equipment. Occasionally it is not clear if a circuit wire has been tripped, so you should flip the switches to be certain. This can happen from time to time, however if it happens on a regular basis, it might be time to call your trusted electrician.
Next you ought to inspect your air conditioner drain pan, which is located under the indoor equipment. If the pan is full of water, you know the drain line is probably clogged and that will definitely affect the performance of your AC system. A lot of water in the pan will trigger a float switch to engage and shut off your machine to prevent a flood. If you see this has happened, please call your local HVAC technician to properly unclog the drainage system. This is a common issue that is often easily solved with an annual maintenance service. Your technician is trained to check the drain lines as part of their tune-up to prevent an overflow.
Although it is not commonplace, there just might be a quick fix that is as easy as flicking a light switch. If you have a hot air heating and air conditioning system, you may have an AC safety shutoff switch that may be accidentally engaged. Inside it will be located near the top of the basement stairs, typically near your regular light switch. It may have a guard to prevent accidental shutoff. If you have a standalone AC unit, the switch will probably be in the attic. For the outdoor unit, there will be a disconnect box, but usually only the technician would touch that.
Just like your car or truck, your air conditioning system needs routine maintenance to perform at its best and may require both major and minor repairs from time to time. Do not be afraid of those small repairs suggested by your local HVAC technician because they may save you a lot of money down the road. A few hundred dollars may seem like a lot for a small part that can fit in the palm of your hand, but it requires both skill and knowledge to properly replace and should not be attempted by an amateur in order to save a few bucks.
If your contractor says a part is beginning to fail, he or she is telling you that it was luckily caught early and it is cheaper to fix now than later. A few of the most common parts replaced on air conditioning equipment during the cooling season are the capacitor, condenser fan motor, pressure switches, blower motor, and compressors. Do not be surprised when your technician mentions these parts because they are usually the first to go with normal wear and tear. Some popular repairs would be a refrigerant leak, clogged drain line, blown fuse, and coil cleaning.
Remember, during the warmer months your air conditioning equipment is running constantly, or at least half the time when you are home to enjoy that artificially cool breeze. Sign up for an annual maintenance plan like our American Airflow Comfort Care to make sure that your system is performing at its best so that it is reliable when the weather is at its worst.