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Easy Do It Yourself Home Air Conditioner Troubleshooting

Why is my air conditioner not cooling?

Oh no, I don’t think the air conditioner is working properly. The house is getting hot, the kids are going to be home from school soon and it’s about time to start making dinner! What can I do? There are literally hundreds of possible reasons why your air conditioner isn’t cooling. Let’s look at the 3 most common issues you can check yourself.

1. Thermostat programming

First, how long has it been since you asked your AC how its day was? After you let your A/C complain about how hard it works and how it takes the heat for everything, go to your thermostat. Let’s make sure the thermostat is correctly set to run the system in cool. Frequently, especially now that most of us have programmable thermostats, the thermostat can be following a preprogrammed schedule. When the system “follows a schedule” it will turn on and off automatically based on the routine programmed into it. Your AC could be following a schedule that prohibits the unit from turning on. The best way to address this would be to hit the HOLD button on the thermostat. This will force the system to do whatever you want it to do at the moment in spite of the programming.

2. Circuit Breaker or Power issues

If the thermostat programming wasn’t the problem, next go to the home circuit breaker panel. This is a large metal box that where all of your home’s breakers or fuses are. The most common places to find your breakers are: the garage, utility room, mechanical room or on the outside wall of your home. When you open the metal door and look at the breakers, find the two designated to your central air conditioning system. Common labeling for your indoor unit will be “Heat” and the outdoor unit will commonly be labeled “A/C”. Sometimes the breakers are labeled wonderfully and you can spot them right away, many times nothing is labeled and you would be just as likely to find the right breaker blind folded. The worst part about the blind folded method is trying to find your way through your messy garage without stubbing a toe! If you see one of the breakers is “tripped,” or is no longer pushed all the way to the ON position, this could be the issue. Before you try and reset the breaker, remember this, breakers are safety devices. They protect you, your family and your home from electrical hazards. If the breaker is tripped, something went wrong. You could have an electrical short in the air conditioner somewhere, the AC might be pulling an unsafe amount of electricity, or there could be unsafe or loose electrical connections. Unlike crazy Uncle Lenny during the holidays, the breakers should not be trippin’. Get everyone away from the air conditioning system and turn the breaker back on if it was tripped. What happened? Sometimes it will pop right back off; sometimes it will stay in the on position, but the unit still doesn’t work and other times everything will come right on and work like you think it should. No matter what happened after you turned the switch back on CALL YOUR AIR CONDITIONING PROFESSIONAL and have them out ASAP. Something in your air conditioning system may be unsafe and needs to be addressed!

3. Clogged Drain Line

If the problem wasn’t your breakers, well I’m sorry I reminded you about Uncle Lenny and now you should find your air handler. The air handler or indoor unit, is usually in a closet, the garage or the attic. When you reach your air handler there should be a SAFETY FLOAT SWITCH protecting the system. If the unit is laying sideways in the attic or top of the garage, you should have two of these switches, one attached to the air handler and another attached to a large metal pan underneath the equipment. These switches protect the equipment and your home from water damage. Locate the switch or switches. The primary switch is attached directly to the air handler right beside the white drain pipe. Pull the switch out. This is very easy to do and offers no safety concerns. If there is water where the switch was seated you more than likely have a clogged condensate drain line. Mmm hmm, haven’t been getting your annual air conditioning maintenance have you? If your air handler is sideways with the large metal pan under it, this could be full of water also. Get a wet/dry vacuum and go outside. You are looking for a one inch, usually white plastic pipe leaving your home and it could be anywhere but usually within a foot or so from the foundation. Turn on the vacuum, stick it on the drain pipe and go back to the air handler. If you can hear the whooshing noise of the vacuum sucking air, then mission accomplished. Even though you’re feeling pretty darn awesome right now, and have already posted your greatness on a few social media sites, call your air conditioning professional and schedule a visit. If your drain was clogged you’ve most likely not had a service in the last 12 months. When you cleared the line you might have seen some disgusting snotty goop come out. Well, that gross crud came from your air conditioner and it probably needs a cleaning. All that gross slime came from the unit that spreads the air around your entire home!

If you have checked out the issues covered here and your unit is still not working, it is time to call The Comfort Authority. We can help you get to the bottom of the issue and even fix it if you would like. Call us or click here to schedule an appointment. In the meantime, open some windows, get a glass of lemonade and relax, or do what my wife would do: get the kids and go to the mall.

Hopefully this helped, feel free to comment and share your experiences and check us out on Facebook.