Ahhh, spring is in the air! The new blossoms are bursting out with promises of long, sunny days. And after the long, harsh winter experienced by nearly everyone in the U.S., most of us are more than ready. Of course, long summer days means more run-time for your central AC system. Well, those of us working here at GAMA Air want to help you be sure your unit is ready for the task.
Not only do you want your central air conditioner unit ready to work before the heat hits, but by keeping it in optimal working condition, you can save energy and, as a result, save money. On the flip side, if your AC unit works but doesn’t provide enough cooling, you are likely to use far more energy than necessary trying to keep the summer heat out of our home.
Here is a brief list of some of the different kinds of problems that can occur with an AC unit.
• The unit doesn’t work at all.
• It runs but does a poor job of cooling.
• It allows dramatic changes in room temperature.
• It drips or leaks water.
• It makes strange noises.
Although some repairs are best handled by a qualified air-conditioning repair technician, in this article we’ll look at how you can handle simple repairs and maintenance yourself. However, if you prefer to call in an expert at the beginning, simply give GAMA Air a call here at (310) 651-6936. We are always willing and able to help with questions and concerns about your heating and air system.
The AC unit doesn’t work at all
If the AC unit doesn’t seem to work at all, the first thing to check is that the thermostat is set to the "Cool" setting.
If it is set to “Cool” and the temperature in the house is higher than the set temperature, but your unit doesn’t turn on then the likely problem is either the thermostat isn’t working properly or the unit isn’t getting electrical power.
Before you do anything else, again confirm that the thermostat is set to “Cool” and the temperature setting is all the way down. Then try these 4 things:
- Check the main electrical panels.
Find your main electrical panel and check for a tripped breaker or blown fuse. The AC unit should be on its own 240-volt circuit (which means a double-breaker or fuse). You should also locate any secondary circuit panels and check for a tripped breaker or blown fuse there as well. If you find a problem, reset the breaker by turning it off and then on or replace the fuse.
- Check all the switches and disconnects.
Make sure the disconnect switch located next to the condenser hasn’t been shut off. This is located inside a metal box usually mounted on the house wall near the AC unit. Finally, make sure the furnace power switch is turned on because it has a fan which circulates the air for the AC unit as well. If any of these switches were turned off, turn them on and try the air conditioner again.
- Double check the thermostat.
If all the switches were on and the AC unit still doesn’t work, then turn off the power to the AC unit and re-check the thermostat. Carefully remove the thermostat’s cover from the base (usually by pulling straight out) and replace the batteries (if it has batteries). Replace the cover and wait 3 or 4 minutes for the thermostat to reset. Then turn the AC unit back on and try the system again.
- Bypass the thermostat.
This last step is a little bit technical, but if you’re comfortable trying it you might solve the problem. Turn off the power to the AC unit Re-open the thermostat and unscrew the wire from the screw labeled “Y”. Turn the power back on to the AC unit. Carefully hold the wire by its insulation only and touch the bare end to the screw labeled “R”. Hold it there for about two minutes. If you hear the compressor and fan kick on in the condenser unit, then this means the thermostat is faulty and must be replaced. If the compressor doesn’t turn on when you hold the two wires together, turn the AC until power back off and call an air-conditioning technician. This is a job for an expert.
Just give us a call here at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a checkup. We are standing by to help you get your AC unit up and working before the heat of summer settles in. And stay tuned for additional self-help tips for common AC unit problems.
Do you have a question about your furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner? Visit our “Ask an Expert” page, fill out the form, and our resident expert will get back to you quickly.