In Northwest Arkansas & having trouble with your AC? Read on.
Try these seven things first
Generally speaking, one of the first things most people do if their AC won't turn on or is blowing warm air is schedule a service call. What they should do though, is first run through the following basic troubleshooting steps to see if the issue is one that can be fixed for free.
1. Check your thermostat batteries. If your thermostat screen is blank or showing a battery symbol, there's a good chance bad batteries are your issue. Changing them out is simple: just take the thermostat unit off the wall and toss a couple fresh batteries in it. Note: Even if your thermostat screen is lit, you can still have bad batteries. They may have just enough power to turn the screen on, but not enough to flip the relays that actually do the work of telling your system to come on.
2. Confirm your thermostat is set to "Auto" and not "On". This is a quick one — take a second to confirm your thermostat is set to "Auto". If it's set to "On", the air will feel lukewarm when it comes out because the AC isn't actually running, it's just recirculating air.
3. Check that your AC circuit breaker isn't tripped or off. Sometimes AC issues can be traced back to a tripped breaker. To check, go to your breaker box and look for a switch labeled AC. If the switch is on the opposite side of all the other switches, flip it. Voilà — your AC should start working again. If the switch is in the middle position, your circuit breaker tripped because of an electrical issue. Flipping it may fix the issue, but we always recommend getting someone out there to figure out what tripped it. If it trips again, you absolutely need to have a technician out because something is seriously wrong, causing the breaker to flip repeatedly.
4. Check your filter. Sometimes filters get so dirty that they actually cause the entire HVAC system to shut off. To rule that out, replace your old filter with a clean one (you can get them from Walmart or Amazon: make sure you get the right size!). If you've never changed yours before, first you need to locate it. Most are behind the big metal vent you see in your ceiling (usually a hallway). Here’s a typical one:
Once you find your return air vent, remove the grate and take out the filter. There should be some numbers on the side that tell you what size you need to buy. After buying a new one, place it in the grate with the arrow on the side facing up. Now just flip your AC circuit breaker off and then back on (see above) and cross your fingers!
NOTE: If you can't find a grate like the above, your filter might be located next to your HVAC system inside. Just find your furnace or air handler then look for a cabinet or similar that might hold a filter.
5. Clear your condensate drain. This is a big one. Over time, the drain pipe that comes out of your indoor unit gets dirty and unless it's cleaned, will eventually back up. This results in one of two things: water damage to your home or your system shutting off to protect your home from flooding (for systems with a water detection system).
The honest truth is that most homeowners can't truly clean their condensate drain like an HVAC technician due to a lack of tools. That said, an effective DIY way to clear it temporarily is to put a wet/dry shop vac on the outside part of the drain and use your hand to create suction. That will often clear the drain enough to get your HVAC unit going again.
6. Clear the area around your outdoor unit. Your condenser (the technical name for your outdoor HVAC unit) needs at least a foot of free space around it to work effectively. So if you have tall grass or bushes pressing in on the condenser, trim them so that it can breathe better (and thereby cool your home more effectively).
7. Clean your coils. This is kind of an advanced DIY step, but if you feel comfortable, you can clean your coils. Start by turning off your HVAC system at the breaker. Then, grab some coil cleaner from Lowes or online and spray down your coils (your indoor coil is next to your furnace and is called an evaporator coil and your outdoor coil surrounds your condenser and is called a condenser coil). If you have pets and your coil is covered in hair, you can use a soft bristle brush to remove them. Be very careful with both coils so you don't damage the fragile fins.
NOTE: Each coil uses a specific coil cleaner. Be sure to use the correct kind and to follow the directions to the tee. If it helps, here is an evaporator coil cleaner and a condenser coil cleaner on Amazon.
If you're tried the above and still no luck
If all of the above fail, you can feel pretty confident you have a real issue with your AC. That doesn't necessarily mean the repair is going to be expensive, just that you'll need an HVAC technician to work on it.
If you want a helping hand, our service calls are $19 plus tax, so you can get a friendly, trained Franklin technician out there to diagnose your issue for around the same cost as a couple large pizzas. He’ll figure out what the issue is, recommend a repair, and if you go with it, hopefully have your home cool again within a couple hours.
For AC & HVAC repairs in Northwest Arkansas, call Franklin at (479) 282-0003 or just tap the message bubble in the bottom right to schedule.
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