Even if your air conditioner is relatively new, problems can still arise. An older unit may not work at all or it may just be ineffective in the summer heat. Here’s what to look for when troubleshooting a broken or malfunctioning air conditioner.
Check the thermostat
It sounds like an obvious place to start, but often people ignore the thermostat entirely, thinking that it must be something more complicated than that. If everything else seems fine with your AC system but it isn’t doing its job of lowering the temperature in your home, check your thermostat first thing. Make sure that it is set to the correct temperature. If it is, try to manually override it by setting it a few degrees higher (and then setting it back down). At this point it’s possible that there may be an electrical problem with the thermostat.
The thermostat in your home works using a system of heat and cold sensors. The furnace will turn on when the sensors detect one air conditioner, and off when they detect the other one. Sometimes these sensors can go bad prematurely, having been damaged during installation or use over time. If you notice that your AC unit turns on long after the ambient temperature reaches a comfortable level inside your home (or vice versa), there might be something wrong with your thermostat.
Clean the ac unit and window seals
A dirty AC system will not only be more likely to malfunction, but it will also cool less effectively than a clean one would. Dried leaves, spider webs, and other debris on your unit can reduce airflow and keep your air conditioner from operating at full capacity. You should clean the coils of the window air conditioner as well as outside condenser coils at least once per year. Don’t use bleach or harsh chemicals to wash these parts if you have copper coils; just use cold water to rinse them off with a power washer (the same kind people use for cleaning their homes).
Replace any damaged parts in the system
If you were having problems with your AC before you repaired any of its major components, there’s a good chance that it was because something was broken. Electrical cables can get damaged over time; if you notice fraying around the edges or exposed wiring in one area, don’t ignore it. You should also check that all screws are secured tightly and replace any parts that appear to be broken (like dirty air filters).
Check for a clogged drain line or other blockage that could be causing issues with airflow
Sometimes leaves will pile up against the drains on your outside unit, blocking airflow and leaving more room for other debris to accumulate as well. If you do not clean this out occasionally, the AC system may not be able to remove humidity from the air, and you may experience frequent and major malfunctions.
Change your filters regularly to keep your air clean and free of allergens, bacteria, and viruses
Keeping a filter in place at all times will reduce the number of microorganisms (and thus potential allergens) that are able to enter your home through the outdoor AC unit. If there’s a different kind of material on the outside unit than inside, ensure that they’re clean enough for each other when you change them out as well. An undersized filter can also cause issues with airflow for both units; if it is too small or has holes in it, it won’t be able to remove particulates from the air effectively.
If none of these steps help you fix your AC, it’s time to have an expert take a look at it. It may be that the problem is on the other end of town entirely or that you need a new system altogether.
Call in a professional if none of these steps work
If you’ve followed all of these steps and are still having problems with your air conditioner, meet up with one or more HVAC professionals while they’re out working nearby.
If you have copper coils, ask for someone who has experience working with this compound; otherwise, you might risk further damage to your unit by hiring the wrong person. Make sure that they will get there soon after calling them – the longer you wait, the worse things can get.
Get a new air conditioner if nothing else works
If you’ve followed all of these steps and are still having problems with your air conditioner, meet up with one or more HVAC professionals while they’re out working nearby. If you have copper coils, ask for someone who has experience working with this compound; otherwise, you might risk further damage to your unit by hiring the wrong person.