As the head of a household, the last thing you need is problems with your air conditioning. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so the wisest course of action is to make sure your air conditioner receives regular maintenance calls from an HVAC service professional. That being said, things might still go wrong with it. At these times, it can be helpful to know what types of problems you might be able to deal with yourself and what you’ll need to call a professional to fix.

Your Air Conditioner Doesn’t Turn On.

Let’s start out with what seems like the worst-case scenario. You flip the switch on your thermostat and nothing happens. As with most of the issues here, whether or not you can fix it yourself will depend on what’s causing the problem.

To save yourself the money of a service call, you should make sure to check some incredibly basic things first. Is the “heat versus cool” switch on your thermostat set to cool? This might seem silly to ask, but think how silly you’ll feel when a technician arrives and solves the problem by flipping this switch. Also, check to make sure the thermostat is displaying the temperature and other information as brightly as you remember it being. Even if the battery is low, rather than completely dead, it might still interfere with its function.

Check your electrical panel, and make sure there are no tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. If you’ve checked all of this, but it’s still not working, it may be bad contactors or capacitors. The contractors are basically the switch between your thermostat and the AC unit that tell the air conditioner to turn on. The capacitors help the fan motor run. Either of these problems will probably require a professional to fix.

Your Air Conditioning Is Not Cool Enough

When you put your hand up to your AC vents, is the air not as cool as it should be? The first and simplest thing you can do here is to check the air filter. A dirty, clogged air filter will strangle off the unit’s airflow, and this can make the unit strain and reduce the coolness of the air coming out of it. Find out more about your solutions at Eco Air Conditioning.

Another potential cause of your air conditioner not blowing cool air is a broken condenser fan motor. The condenser unit is the outdoor part of your home AC. If its fan isn’t working, the unit becomes unable to dissipate heat from your home. Diagnosing and fixing this problem are two completely different things. As far as diagnosis is concerned, simply go outside and stand next to your condenser unit. You should be able to hear the fan motor running if it’s working. Also, open the top and look to see if the fan’s spinning. You can diagnose this problem, but you’ll probably need an HVAC pro to repair it.

Another cause of inadequate cooling can be a low level of refrigerant, which will mean a refrigerant leak. Ice buildup on the refrigerant line or a hissing noise are indicators of such a leak. If you suspect this as being the cause, you should call a professional to fix it.

Do You Have Higher Than Usual Electric Bills?

Your air filter will be an easy thing to check for this problem. A clogged filter will make the unit strain more to do its job, which means it has to run longer to get the house to a given temperature. If changing a dirty filter hasn’t fixed it, try putting your hand up to your air vents. Is there much air pressure coming out? If not, you may have breaks or leaks in your ducts. This will redirect a lot of the air and make your system work longer to get enough cool air into each room.

The previous common air conditioner problem of it not being cool enough can also cause high electric bills. The checks above to see if your fan motors working or if you have leaking refrigerant can help in this case. If you’ve checked these things but have no idea, it’s time to call a technician who knows what they’re doing.

Your AC Unit Is Making Odd Noises

If your unit simply sounds like it’s straining, that could be a clogged air filter. In the event you hear knocking or banging sounds, this will be something else. If it’s coming from the condenser unit, which is the outdoor part of your central air conditioner, check to see if there is a stick or rock inside it getting knocked around by the fan. This is a simple do-it-yourself fix where you can just pull it out. If this isn’t it, and you’re unable to determine the cause, you’ll need to call an HVAC professional.

Maintaining Your Air Conditioning System

We can’t emphasize enough how regular critical maintenance is. An annual maintenance checkup of your HVAC system is recommended. If you’re in an area that is particularly prone to hot weather, you might want to schedule this in the spring, so you know you’ll be ready for the hot weather ahead. The best regular maintenance you can do yourself is to simply change your air filter every two to three months depending on how much you’re using the system. An HVAC professional’s annual checkup should spot any other system inefficiencies before becoming a headache for you and your family.