For most homeowners, experiencing a malfunctioning AC in the middle of the summer is one of their worst nightmares. Fortunately, modern AC systems don’t break down often and rarely give their owners trouble. When they do, the problems are usually easy enough to find and fix. That assumes, however, that you know a bit about AC troubleshooting procedures. To help with that, here’s a guide to help you learn to troubleshoot common AC problems.

The Five Categories of Common AC Problems

Since mechanical breakdowns aren’t common with modern, well-maintained AC equipment, most of the common problems you might experience with one fall into five major categories. Knowing what they are and the types of symptoms they cause makes troubleshooting most AC problems fairly easy. The five problem categories are:

  • Dirty or clogged air filters
  • Improper thermostat settings
  • AC power issues
  • A malfunctioning outdoor unit
  • Issues with ductwork and vents

With those five categories in mind, you can use the following troubleshooting steps to revive your malfunctioning AC system.

Detecting Air Filter Issues

Many of the most common AC problems homeowners experience stem from dirty or clogged air filters. The good news about that is the fact that cleaning your existing air filter or replacing it will get your AC working again immediately. First, however, you’ll need to know how to recognize the symptoms of a dirty air filter.

One obvious symptom of a clogged air filter is if your AC isn’t producing as much airflow as it usually does. This condition often causes hot and cold spots throughout your home and may prevent your AC from reaching the temperature you’ve set. So, if you notice that one or more of your home’s vents aren’t supplying much cold air, you should immediately check your AC’s air filter.

There are other symptoms associated with a dirty or clogged air filter, too. For example, if you notice a buildup of ice on your AC’s refrigerant lines or evaporator coils or see an abnormally high amount of water leaking from your AC system, a dirty air filter could be to blame. Those things happen because the air filter blocks the proper flow of air through your AC system, forcing it to work harder than it should have to.

Identifying Thermostat Issues

Although it should seem obvious, your AC can’t work if its thermostat malfunctions. If that happens, your AC might refuse to turn on or produce warm air from your vents. So, if you set your thermostat to a temperature that should cause your AC to turn on and it doesn’t, take a moment to make sure your thermostat’s not to blame.

If your AC won’t turn on, check to make sure that your thermostat is set to cool, and not heat. Something as simple as inadvertently hitting that switch can lead to AC issues that look like a system failure. If your AC turns on but your home still feels warmer than you think it should, you should grab a thermometer to check if your thermostat’s registering the proper temperature. If your thermostat thinks it’s cooler in your home than it really is, it will turn off your AC prematurely.

Identifying AC Power Issues

Another thing to check if you can’t get your home’s AC to turn on is its power supply. Something as simple as a tripped circuit breaker can cause your AC to fail. The good news is that a tripped breaker, in most cases, isn’t indicative of a larger problem. Believe it or not, you may experience this issue because of the problems caused by a clogged air filter. The added resistance faced by your AC might cause it to draw more power than it should, tripping its breaker in the process.

To check to see if a tripped breaker is the reason for your AC trouble, you’ll have to locate and open your home’s circuit breaker panel. Most of the time, the panel should have a label that tells you which breaker serves which circuits in your home. The circuit that serves your AC should only serve it and nothing else due to the power demands created by the system. Once you find it, make certain it’s in the on position. If not, turn it on. That should restore your AC system to working order.

If the breaker trips again, either immediately or shortly after your AC turns on, however, you should leave it off and call Bold City Heating & Air to investigate the problem. It could be a sign of a bigger malfunction in your AC system. If you ignore it and simply keep turning the circuit breaker back on, your AC could suffer damage and quit working altogether.

Investigating Problems With Your Outdoor Unit

A dirty air filter isn’t the only thing that can lead to poor AC performance. The same thing can happen if your AC’s outdoor unit gets dirty or obstructed by leaves, twigs, and other detritus. When that occurs, your outdoor unit can’t effectively expel the heat from inside your home into the outdoor environment. Then, your AC will have to run for longer and longer to bring the temperature inside your home down, if it’s capable of doing so at all.

Like your AC’s air filter, it should be simple to see if your outdoor unit’s dirty. First, turn off your AC system. Then, locate the power box near your outdoor unit and turn it off. Once you’ve done that, clear away any leaves or debris from the unit. Then, use a garden hose to gently rinse any dirt you can see off of the fins inside the unit. You should also make certain that there’s plenty of unobstructed air space surrounding the unit. If there is, you can then turn the power back on and see if your AC has returned to normal operation.

Identifying Problems With Ductwork and Vents

The final category of common AC problems concerns issues with your system’s ductwork and vents. When they suffer a problem, you might notice a lack of airflow in some rooms but not others. Or, you may see problems that look like those caused by a dirty air filter. That’s because an air blockage anywhere in the system will cause the same types of trouble.

The first step you can take to deal with vent and ductwork problems is to go around your home and make sure every register is clean, fully open, and unobstructed. Although you might think that closing vents in unused rooms will save you money, it won’t. Instead, your system will have higher static pressure to fight its way through, leading to less efficient cooling.

Then, if you notice that certain vents have no air at all coming out of them while others are fine, it might be due to a problem with the ducts themselves. To find the problem, look for damper handles on the sides of any of your home’s exposed ductwork. If any appear fully closed, they could be the source of your problem. In that case, opening them should solve your problem. Otherwise, you’ll need to contact the team here at Bold City Heating & Air to help you locate the source of the issue and fix it.

Your Expert HVAC Team

If you’re lucky, you should be able to resolve any issues with your home’s AC system by troubleshooting as described above. If you can’t find the source of the problem, though, expert help is a single call to Bold City Heating & Air away. We offer complete HVAC services to the Jacksonville area. Plus, we can handle problems with ductwork and resolve indoor air quality problems, too.

So, when your home’s AC isn’t working the way it should, don’t wait and call Bold City Heating & Air right away!

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