What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Breaks

In South Florida, your air conditioner is the only thing between you and the miserable, sweltering heat of summer. Breakdowns are always inconvenient and can even be disastrous for people with medical conditions. Most people in the situation will immediately call for repairs, but service teams stay busy in the summer and may not be able to respond immediately.

While you suffer in the heat, there are some basic diagnostic procedures anyone can use to determine the problem. Many air conditioner problems can be fixed with a few tools and a little know-how. Learning to distinguish between problems you can handle and those requiring an expert will save you money in the long run. The majority of breakdowns can be prevented with basic maintenance, including allowing the AC to rest when you aren’t home. A programmable thermostat can help with this. If you’re tired of repetitively handing over cash to a repair team, you’ve come to the right place.

A/C Runs Without Cooling

The outside condenser kicks on and the evaporator fan is blowing, but you house is getting hotter by the minute. If warm air is coming through the vents, the problem is likely not dire. Ever had your toaster mysteriously break only to realize it was unplugged? Something similar can happen with air conditioners. You could accidentally flip the switch from cool to heat or fan only, or someone could be pulling a prank. Either way, it is always best to start with the solution you’ll be most embarrassed about should a repair team find it first.

Next up, you’ll need to ensure the outside condenser has good airflow and check the filter. Central systems will have one filter usually behind an overhead grill. If this is news, the filter is likely past needing a change. Filters should be changed each month as basic maintenance. If it is a window unit, you’ll have to spray it out once a month. People often put this off for longer due to the hassle of pulling the unit out of the window and using a pressure hose. In either case, clogged filters can reduce cooling efficiency and cause system failure.

If none of these actions help, you may be looking at a coolant leak. Let the professionals handle the chemicals.

Air Conditioner Won’t Start or Stops Before Cooling Sufficiently

If you’ve checked the thermostat to ensure proper settings and checked the filters, it’s time to look at the breaker box. It can be difficult finding the breaker corresponding to the air conditioner, or the outlet where the window unit is plugged in. Once you do, mark it on the schematic inside the box cover that electricians rarely bother filling out. Flip the breaker off and back on.

If the AC still fails to start, you have two options:

  • Call a professional A/C repair company.
  • Locate a shop-vac and fin comb at the hardware store. You’ll need to flip the breaker off, open the condenser, and clean the coil fins. It’s easier than it sounds.

 

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One Response to What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Breaks

  1. Hannah says:

    Great suggestions! Checking fuses and filters is usually what I do, but I never thought about checking for loose screws. Also, lubricating the fan is a new one to me. Thanks!

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