AC Not Cutting It? Try These Steps

Summer is almost here, so you want to be sure your central air conditioner is working at its best. We recently posted a helpful guide of simple steps to check if your AC isn’t working at all. But what if your problem is that the cooling system is running, but not cooling like you think it should? Well, here’s some more tips from the helpful folks at GAMA Air to keep cool in the summer heat.

An AC unit that isn’t working very good can be more frustrating than not working at all. If it doesn’t even come on, then you know there’s a problem right away. But if it is running, you would assume it is going to cool your home. And when it doesn’t... you don’t realize it until your hot and sweaty.

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 right from the start, 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. However, for the do-it-yourselfers here are some things you can check:

The AC isn’t cooling very well

1. Check your air filter. Let’s start with the obvious. Every central heating and cooling system has an air filter that is designed to protect the unit inside your house from build-up of dust and lint. Find your air filter and pull it out. If it looks dirty, then replace it. Caution: resist the temptation to just remove it and leave it out. Doing so will cause you major headaches down the road.

What if your AC doesn’t have an air filter? That’s a problem that would definitely cause your cooling system to not work well. You will need to call a AC service company to clean the inside of the cooling coil that has been building up the dust and lint, which the air filter should have been catching. Here’s more information in one of our earlier posts: “Why and When Should I Change My Air Filter?

2. Check the outdoor unit. If the air filter looks fine, and you know it has been replaced recently, then go to the unit outside. That is where the compressor is, the heart of your central air system. Around the compressor is a condenser coil that looks similar to a car radiator. This coil is keeps the compressor cool in the summer. But if it isn’t clean, the compressor will overheat and can’t cool your home.

Grass clippings and leaves obviously need to be cleaned off of the coil. But there could also be dirt built-up that can’t be seen easily. However, a word of caution: It is extremely important that you be very carefully when cleaning the coil. It has fins that are very, very delicate. Bending or flattening them will adversely affect the operation of your central system. We recommend calling your favorite AC repair company to clean the coil. They have the tools and the know-how to do it correctly. But if you really want to try yourself, just be very careful. After disconnecting power to the outdoor unit, use a garden hose to wet down the coil, but not a pressure nozzle. And then use your hands to pull off the debris on the outer surface, not a stiff brush, which could bend or flatten the coil fins before you realize it. A very soft bristle brush, like a paint brush, could be helpful. But again: Be very careful.

3. Make sure the compressor and fan work. If the coil around the compressor seems fine, the next thing to check is if the compressor and the fan next to it are operating. Before you connect the power again to the outdoor unit, try spinning the fan blade inside the unit. If it does not spin freely, then there’s a problem with the motor and it will likely need to be replaced.

If you just finished washing the coil, wait about half-an-hour to make sure any water that got on electrical connections has dried, then turn the power back on. Then turn on your AC system from the thermostat. To determine if the compressor is working or not, you can try listening to see if it turned on. However, if the fan is running it may be hard to tell. In that case, put your hand on the copper pipes that go from the outdoor unit into your house. One will start to warm up, and the other will start to cool down. If they both remain the same temperature after a few of minutes, then the compressor is not working. It may not be coming on, or it may be completely out of refrigerant. In either case you will need to call a trusted service repair company to take it from here.

Just give us a call here at (310) 651-6936 or use our online form to schedule a repair. We are standing by to help you get your AC unit up and working before the heat of summer settles in. 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.

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