How to Repair an Air Conditioning System
The wrong time to be without air conditioning
is during the middle of the summer when it is boiling hot outside. If your air has stopped working or doesn’t seem to be working properly, your first thought may be to call in a repair technician. However, getting your AC repaired during the summer can be an expensive proposition. Before placing a call, there are some minor repairs that you can do yourself to get your system running again.
The Parts of an Air Conditioner
There are two components that make up an air conditioning system, the condenser unit and the evaporator coil. Read our buyers guide here for more info
- Condenser Unit - The condenser unit is the square shaped metal box that sets outside at the back or on the side of your house. It contains the fan, the condenser coil and the compressor. The coolant, usually Freon, lines run from the condenser unit to the evaporator coil, which is located inside your house.
- Evaporator Coil - This component is mounted above the furnace in the main duct or the plenum. It contains the evaporator coil, the blower, the filter and there is also a drain line for excess water on it.
Both of these components are sealed, but you should be able to troubleshoot and make minor repairs to your air conditioning unit yourself.
Troubleshooting Air Conditioning Problems
Before you attempt any repairs on your air conditioner, make sure that the power to the entire system, including the evaporator coil and the condenser unit, is turned off. Electrical shock is one of the main causes for household deaths, but it can easily be prevented by making sure you turn the breaker switch to the AC unit to the “Off” position. Some of the more common issues that can go wrong with an air conditioning unit can sometimes be easily fixed. Here are some of the problems you may encounter and how to take care of them.
- Condenser Issues - If the condenser isn’t running, first check to see if the power switch is still in the “On” position. Sometimes a power surge can cause the breaker to be tripped and the power will be shut off. Also, check to make sure the temperature on the thermostat isn’t set too high. Try lowering the temperature by five degrees to see if the condenser starts running again. If the power is on and the temperature is fine, you will need your unit checked out by a professional because the motor or the compressor could be faulty.
- Uneven or Inadequate Cooling - If the house is being cooled unevenly, then you may need to balance the distribution system. You can do this by checking to see if the grills or dampers are set for adequate airflow. The grills could be blocked or closed off. The dampers may need to be reset as well. If your home is not getting cool enough, try turning down the thermostat by five degrees in case it was set too high. Another cause of inadequate cooling could be a dirty evaporator, in which case you would need to cool it. The most expensive resolution to this problem is buying a larger unit if the one you have isn’t big enough to cool your house properly.
- Air Unit doesn’t Cool - If your system is running, but the air coming out isn’t cool, then there are several things that could be wrong with the system. Before you start opening up your system to see if it needs repair, turn down the thermostat by five degrees to see if that helps cool the air. If the temperature is okay, the condenser could be dirty or the unit could be blocked. In either case, clean the unit and clear away any debris you find around it.
Another cause of warm air coming from your AC unit is that the evaporator is dirty and it needs to be cleaned. Otherwise, the compressor may need to be recharged or the unit is faulty. In the case of these last two issues, you will need to call a professional out to fix the problem. A dirty condenser or evaporator could also cause the condenser unit to switch on and off repeatedly. You will need to clear away any accumulated debris and clean both units to see if that resolves the issue. If not, you will need a technician to examine your air conditioning unit.
Clean Your Air Conditioning System Regularly
To ensure the condenser and evaporator units work properly, you will need to clean them at least once a year. It is good practice to clean them before starting them for the summer and before you shut them down for the fall or winter. Also change the filter every year before you start using your system to help it run smoothly.