It seems that one of the most common air conditioning problems is improper operation. When the system is running, make sure all windows and external doors are closed. If you have single units, isolate the room or connected rooms from the rest of the property. Sometimes the problem starts with the initial installation, and is then compounded by poor servicing and inadequate maintenance. For example, the level of refrigerant in the system does not match the manufacturer’s specifications. Atlas makes the point that unqualified service technicians frequently fail to find refrigerant charging problems. They can even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full. If your air conditioner suddenly stops, begin by checking any fuses or circuit breakers. Let the unit cool down for about five minutes before resetting any breakers. It’s possible the high-pressure limit switch may have tripped if the day was especially hot. Some models have an auto reset, and some have a manual reset. Reset it by pushing the button, located in the compressor’s access panel. Because corrosion of wire and terminals is also a problem in many systems, electrical connections and contacts should be checked during a professional service call. Air conditioners are ruggedly constructed and are made to last. With proper care, they do. This is the Atlas Heating and Cooling basic checklist for when your HVAC system fails:
- Check the filter, but do not test the AC under 65 degrees outside because it will not operate correctly.
- Clean the condenser fins with a hose.
- Make sure the cover is removed from the AC unit before start-up.
- Make sure all of the internal HVAC vents are open.
- Damper down the vents on the lower level to assist the upper level on a one-zone system.
- Make sure the fan is running outside, and there is a humming sound coming from the unit (compressor). Make sure air is coming out of the vents freely inside.
- If your AC has a condensate pump, prepare warm water and bleach and pour the mixture into the pump. This should clear any dirt or bacteria that might be clogging the check valve for the pump.
- If you hear any unusual noises, call a service technician immediately.
Atlas tell us that many of the calls for help they receive come after people put on the air conditioning for the first time after a long break and it’s hot outside. If you are able and willing to go through their suggested checklist, you may be able to fix the problem yourself. However, if you’ve done that—and checked the fuses and breakers—and the system still doesn’t work, don’t waste more time, and don’ t try any “do-it-yourself” measures. Now is the time to call in the professionals. A sensible way to avoid these types of problems is to have your HVAC system checked annually. An HVAC technician inspects and cleans the equipment, checks refrigerant levels and exchanges small parts to ensure the unit is operating efficiently. Your technician can tell you if any major worn out parts need replacing or if there are warning signs of serious damage that could occur later. Atlas says it’s best to have this done in the spring to make sure your home is ready for summer. Proper maintenance, cleaning and repairing of your HVAC system will save you money in the long term by extending the use of your unit. With care, an HVAC system can last 15-25 years. However, if your system does need to be replaced, the sooner you know about it the better. Atlas Heating and Cooling suggests asking for quotes from several licensed and reputable contractors to compare costs before choosing the professional company that best meets your needs.