How to Troubleshoot Air Conditioner Problems

How to Troubleshoot Air Conditioner Problems

Central air conditioning is one of those wonderful modern marvels that makes our interiors cool and comfortable. They run in the background of our lives until they break down and then all things hot and humid come inside. Unfortunately, such breakdowns and mishaps seem to occur most frequently during the muggiest days of the year. 

While there are hundreds of factors that can contribute to a malfunctioning air conditioner, many of which require assistance by a professional HVAC contractor, there are a few common causes that can be fairly easy to diagnose.

Common AC Issues

The following are some of those most frequently reported air conditioner problems and what to do when you experience them.

Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On

An electrical problem is the number one cause of non-functioning air conditioners. Start with simple troubleshooting steps like ensuring your thermostat is correctly set to “cool” and not “heat,” “auto,” or “off;” and that the temperature is set below the room’s current reading. If your thermostat is battery operated, replace those batteries with higher quality options. 

If the unit still fails to turn on, then it’s time to inspect your breaker box. Check all of the breakers to see if the air conditioner fuse or any other ones have been reset. Older homes can get power surges that overwhelm the main electrical box and cause blown fuses. If you’re knowledgeable in this area, replace any popped or damaged fuses.

If the problem persists, then there may be a more serious issue in which your house isn’t properly set up for your household’s electrical loads. Or, you might have had wiring poorly installed so that it prevents the AC system from getting the requisite power. You’ll want to call in a professional for these more serious, almost structural issues. This is likewise a good example of why it’s so important to have an air conditioner installed by an HVAC technician. A professional can consider your home’s electrical loads in addition to its heating and cooling loads to ensure the system can be set up and operate without issue. 

Air Conditioner Runs Very Short “On” Cycles

Air conditioners that turn on but don’t stay turned on generally have an issue with either blocked airflow or a refrigerant level. Check your system’s air filter and replace it if it appears dirty and clogged. Air filters should be replaced every three months during spring and fall, and every month during heavy use in summer. Also, check your system’s outside condensing unit and ensure that its condensing fins are not bent, dirty or otherwise obstructed, as this too can cause a shortened “on” cycle.

More Issues You’re Air Conditioner May be Having

Howar Air - Common Air Conditioning Problems Infographic

When it’s Time to Call a Professional

If your system looks clean from the outdoor fins to an indoor air filter, then it’s time to call in a professional to take a look at the unit’s refrigerant level or charge. To learn more about refrigerant and of other ways of troubleshooting a broken A/C system, contact your local Phoenix air conditioner repair professionals at Howard Air.

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