Sometimes even a reliable HVAC service contract through the very best HVAC maintenance firm fails to prevent the need for a bit of rushed homeowner-handled air conditioning troubleshooting. Facts are simple: A well-serviced home A/C system typically runs without a great deal of unexpected complications.
However… Simple accidents and minor process failures do occasionally demand attention.
When you call a quality well-staffed HVAC service center you expect a rapid and often same day response to your home heating or cooling problems. Yet quick service does not always ensure that you will not lose a few hours of work time, or vacation time, or perhaps miss a baseball game you promised to attend.
Thankfully, some of the basic functional problems associated with your typical ducted split-type home air conditioning system can be corrected in record time by you the homeowner. The following tips are not designed to replace scheduled routine HVAC maintenance and service processes. However, this guide will help you check for a quick solution in a tough home cooling or heating situation.
It’s not about trying to save the cost of calling in an A/C repairman. It’s just about avoiding loss time when the problem could be handled by a bit of basic air conditioning troubleshooting.
** Note **
The following tips are not all-inclusive. Furthermore, we make no effort to evaluate your knack for performing A/C troubleshooting processes. If you do not understand the steps involved in a given process, call someone better qualified for the job.
5-Step Simple Air Conditioning Troubleshooting
1) HVAC System Not Cooling
- Confirm that the thermostat/controller temperature setting reflects your cooling expectations and that the unit is set to cooling rather than heating or off.
- Check and if necessary reset the main HVAC breaker in your home circuit breaker box. Also check the breaker that is typically located near to modern A/C condensing and heating units.
- Visually confirm that both the indoor air handler and the outdoor condensing units are physically running.
- Visually confirm that the outdoor condensing unit is not frozen over with ice.
- Disengage the main HVAC breaker at your home circuit breaker box. Wait at least one hour before restarting. This may force the system to reset itself.
2) Limited or Nonexistent System Airflow
- Ensure that all air filters used in any of your HVAC system components are clean. Replace if necessary. If your system is under an A/C maintenance contract, report the issue to the service provider. You may need to install a better grade of filter or isolate the cause for excess dust in your home.
- Visually examine any external or internal units for signs of water accumulation in, near or own the exterior or indoor coil enclosure. Ice accumulation on the external Air Conditioning condensing unit is easily to spot. On the inside unit, be it in the attic, basement or crawlspace, hand test for an excessively cold exterior surface.
3) Overflow From the Indoor Air Handler Drain Pan
- Remove any clogs blocking the exhaust pipe on the drain pan (See illustration). If there are not in the exhaust pipe, this homeowner-handled air conditioning troubleshooting secession should be promoted to the professionals. In the mean time, protect your floors and attic by turning the system off.
4) Compressor Fails But Fan Runs or Compressor Starts But Fan Fails
- If the compressor fails to start, there is not much the average homeowner can do. The problem can relate to a bad compressor or merely a system that is low on refrigerant. To fix, call your local HVAC service center.
- If the condenser fan fails to turn but the compressor starts, the problem may reside in the condenser fan motor. This repair is also beyond the scope of the average homeowner. Call in the pros.
5) Great AirFlow But Poor Cooling
- Measure the temperature difference between the air leaving the air handler and the air entering the air handler. Modern high efficiency air conditioning systems typically run with a near 15-degree drop. Older units may show as much as 18 to 20 degrees difference.
- Temperature drops that are below the norm indicate that your system is low on refrigerant. Call in a local HVAC service tech to correct the problem.
- Temperature drops that greatly exceed the door indicate that the system is suffering a problem with the airflow system. Clean or replace the air filter. If that does not resolve the problem, ensure that the evaporator coils are clean. It that too fails to resolve the problem, clean the blower wheel.
- Possible causes also include improper system design and/or installation, an incorrectly sized duct system, or simply a failure to perform routine HVAC maintenance.
Additional Help Via The ACH Study Guides Resource Links
The preceding air conditioning troubleshooting tips are geared toward homeowners who are seeking a quick fix for a simple and basic HVAC heating or cooling issue. Perhaps you need greater details and a move advanced air conditioning and heating tips guide. Have no fear. Check out the American Cooling and Heating consumer literature page. It’s under the Tips menu. There you can find ACH links to News, Certification study guides, and various other A/C related consumer literature.