Often, the solution to a malfunctioning air conditioner is simple enough for you to take care of on your own.
Here, we’ll go over how to fix an air conditioner and a few of the most common issues homeowners may experience.
How To Fix An Air Conditioner: Before You Start
Before you start fixing your air conditioner, there are a few steps you’ll want to follow.
Test the thermostat
First off, check your thermostat to see if it’s turned on.
Some thermostats have an “Auto” mode that won’t necessarily provide cooling for your home. If your thermostat is set to “Auto” instead of “On,” make the switch and see if there’s a difference.
You might also have it set too high. If the temperature on the thermostat is higher than the temperature in your home, it won’t start the AC.
Shut off the power
If the thermostat is working, you might need to tinker a bit with the AC’s components.
Before doing so, always shut off the power to the unit. You do this by finding the breaker switch for the air conditioning and turning it off.
If it turns out the switch is already off, flip it back on to see if that solves the issue. It could just have been a fluke, but there might be an issue with your AC that’s causing it to use too much energy. If you suspect so, you’ll probably need to get a professional to service it.
Check for clogs
Clogs in the ductwork or outdoor condenser unit could result in poor cooling in your home. Check the registers for any obstructions or dust buildup, and see if the outdoor unit’s insides are clogged with debris.
It’s also worth checking indoor evaporator coils (often located in the same spot as the air filter) to see if they’re clogged with anything. At times, they could become caked with ice, in which case just turn the system off, wait for the ice to melt, and use some commercial cleaner to wipe down the unit. Rinse with a spray of warm water, and wipe it dry.
How To Fix An Air Conditioner: Common Issues
Before calling a professional, the following fixes could get your AC working properly again.
1. Change the air filter
First, check the air filter and change/clean it if necessary. Typically, you’ll want to change the air filter in your system every couple of months. If it’s clogged with dust, change it out.
Some homeowners use reusable air filters. Popping it out when dirty and washing it with dish soap should do the trick. Make sure you allow it to dry completely before reinstalling.
2. Clear plant matter away from the condenser
The outdoor unit needs several feet of clearance to work properly. If the area around the condenser unit is clogged up with shrubs or debris, clear it out as much as possible.
If you have trees nearby, the unit should also have about five feet of clearance between its top and any branches hanging over it. If your trees have low-hanging branches, it may be time to do some trimming.
3. Clean the drain pan
Another common issue is a clogged drainage system.
The condensate pan, located either inside the indoor unit or under the outdoor condenser, may become clogged with mold or algae, causing moisture buildup.
If the line leading to the drain pan or the drain itself are clogged, you’ll need to clean them out. A wet-dry vacuum can make short work of the clog. Wipe down the drain pan, and you’re good to go.
4. Test and change the fuses
Air conditioners often have outdoor fuse boxes housed in a disconnect block. Making certain the system is off, remove the fuse box and use a multimeter to test for current.
This is done by turning your multimeter down to the lowest setting and touching the red and black pieces to opposite ends of the fuse. If you get a reading, you’ve got a charge, and the fuses are working properly. If not, you’ll need to change the fuses.
If the fuses blow again shortly after changing them, you’ve probably got another issue that needs professional attention.
What To Do When You Shouldn’t Fix It Yourself
In some situations, a problem with your air conditioner may be more complex than simply clearing drains or changing out filters. The issues described above may even be symptoms of more serious problems within your system, in which case you should contact a professional air conditioning service technician.
If none of the above solutions seem to work, don’t try to fix it yourself unless you are specifically trained in how to fix an air conditioner.