Air Conditioner Not Working?
When your air conditioner is not working, it can be a major headache. Especially during the hottest summer days.
Air conditioners are complex systems that need the perfect combination of temperature, airflow, and pressure to work correctly. Air conditioning systems are complicated and there are many places your AC could potentially fail. The good news is that just because your AC System is not cooling it does not always mean it will be an expensive repair!
7 Reasons Your AC Is Not Working
There are many factors that can cause your air conditioning system to stop cooling your home, but we have found that the 7 listed below tend to be the most common. (see below)
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Outside Fan Not Spinning
The outside fan is responsible for conveying the heat from your North America home to the outside air. If the fan on the outside unit doesn’t perform correctly, proper heat transfer cannot take place and the air conditioning compressor may overheat and trip the safety overload. Worse yet, it may cause internal damage to the compressor.
Solution: This is often caused by a weak or failed capacitor although it may also be the wiring or even the motor itself. Have a licensed HVAC company inspect your system to determine the cause.
Un-maintained Condenser Unit
One of the most overlooked aspects of AC maintenance is taking care of the outside condenser. Your condenser needs airflow at all times which sounds simple enough since it is outside, but that means that weeds and grass are always growing around it.
Solution: Regularly maintain the area around your condenser. Use a weed trimmer to keep growth clear of the equipment so it can work at its best. Even if there’s no grass around the condenser keep in mind this piece of machinery is outside and can get dirty and collect debris such as leaves and twigs. If there are trees around your condenser check for debris that may have fallen into the casing.
When there is not enough air flow coming through your vents your home will not be cool no matter how cold your AC makes the air. How do you know if there’s enough air flow?
Solution: You can test airflow by holding a lighter directly in front of your vent(s). You’ll want to do this throughout your home, making sure the vents furthest away from your HVAC unit still have good airflow. Start with the flame close to the vent and move progressively farther away until the flame stops wavering. You should be able to reach the opposite end of the room from the vent and still be able to notice an effect on the flame, especially in rooms close to the HVAC unit.
Replacing the filters in your system can help with airflow. There could also be ducting issues that may need to be checked by a professional.
- Electrical Issues
Sometimes a breaker can be tripped, but it doesn’t flip into the “OFF” position. Please keep in mind that if a breaker has tripped that there is very likely a reason. A breaker that trips repeatedly is a sign of a problem and you should contact a professional right away.
Solution: Look for the breakers (there are usually two or three) labeled something along the lines of HVAC, AC, Air Conditioner, Condenser, or Compressor. Flip them off, then back on again and see if this fixes your problem.
- Thermostat Issues
Another common, but difficult to spot problem is a thermostat issue. Is your thermostat’s display blank? That’s one sure sign that something inside has malfunctioned.
The batteries could die, the circuitry inside can malfunction, and a host of other failures can happen to a thermostat without drawing much attention. It’s not as dramatic as a sudden clanging noise or grinding. This could especially be your problem if you are dealing with a home with multiple conditioning zones.
Solution: Change the batteries and see if this remedies your problem. If it doesn’t, a licensed HVAC professional can further troubleshoot this issue for you.
Sometimes you may need to replace your thermostat’s electrical board or even install a new thermostat altogether. Your thermostat’s electrical wiring is tied to the back of the AC unit so it’s best to have a licensed HVAC professional install the thermostat.
- Frozen Air Handler
If none of these solutions take care of your AC’s cooling problem, look behind your air filter inside the unit’s evaporator coils. Are they frozen?
It sounds a little strange, but yes, if your AC is frozen it will cause the air to be too hot. The ice will block the air inside your home from contacting the evaporator coils, preventing the air from being cooled and also preventing your AC from dehumidifying the air.
Solution: If your AC is frozen, turn it off. You’ll need to allow it about 24 hours to defrost and dry out before you attempt to use it again (sorry if this happened to you in the summer!).
Going through the above steps, you would have already resolved most of the common reasons for an AC freeze. An additional step you could take to try to remedy an AC freeze is to look at the evaporator coils after they defrost. Are they dirty?
Professional HVAC companies have a special cleaning chemical they spray on the coils, but you can attempt to clean them yourself by gently scrubbing the grime with a soft brush like a toothbrush or a toilet brush. You want to be careful not to bend the fins or the coils at all.
- Low Refrigerant
One of the main causes of your AC not working is a low refrigerant level. Refrigerant is necessary to produce cool air. Your Air Conditioner is a closed system and should not lose refrigerant. When your refrigerant is low it is a sure sign that there is a leak somewhere in the system.
Solution: Contact an HVAC company. A licensed HVAC professional will have the proper equipment to measure the levels inside your unit, and a method to properly dispose of the used refrigerant.
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