The worst time of year to start having HVAC problems are the middle of summer (and the dead of winter). Not only are you quickly experiencing the discomfort of no heat or air, you also have that sinking sensation in your gut that something is wrong and it’ll probably cost money. Here’s what to check first, before you even have to call the technician (or maybe while you’re waiting for them to pick-up).
Believe it or not, sometimes we all miss the simplest reasons our HVAC is acting up—the power is off. If the power is off in your house, or in your neighborhood, there is probably nothing wrong except that you’ll have to wait for the power to come back on.
Airflow to your unit is important and if you haven’t been changing your air filters regularly, the restriction can cause your unit to slow down or drag, especially when it’s trying to work hard during the summer heat. For twenty bucks and five minutes of work, you’re HVAC can be frigid once again.
If the thermostat display doesn’t work, try changing the batteries.
Check the circuit breaker in the breaker box. If it’s been tripped (the one switch that doesn’t look like the others), reset the breaker. Breakers can trip for a variety of reasons, and if it happens once it’s no big deal. But if the breaker keeps tripping, it’s best to get an electrician to come look at the problem.
On many units there’s an on-off switch next to the indoor air handler unit. For whatever reason (pets, kids, random incidents) this switch can get flipped. Best to double check.
There’s another switch on the outside unit and it can get flipped for all the same reasons. Make sure it is plugged in or flipped on. Be very careful, as this switch controls the 240 volts of electricity to the outdoor A/C unit and it’s very dangerous.
There’s a water safety switch under the pan under the unit to stop water from leaking into your home. If there’s no water in the pan, or it looks old, try emptying the pan, flush the drain line and see if it makes the unit start working again.
If you’ve checked everything and there’s still a problem, definitely contact your HVAC service technician and have them come out. You don’t need to be suffering in this heat.
In these days of early summer heat, it can feel like your air conditioning may not be working quite the same as you remember. Maybe you missed your spring maintenance. Maybe you keep turning down the thermostat. Here are five ways to check-in with your air conditioning system before it becomes a problem.
- Change your system filter. Often a clogged filter is a big culprit for slow circulation. Filters should be changed at least once a month and it’s especially important during the summer.
- Open the vents on your home if it’s a peer and beam foundation.
- Have your HVAC company come out and inspect the unit or determine if the system may need a recharge.
- Check the fan is moving on the outside unit. If it’s not moving, the motor may be to blame.
- If your unit is blowing hot air, often the coil is frozen. Turning the unit off and allowing the ice to melt off the coil will resolve this problem.
HVAC is such a specialized system that when things go wrong it can be very hard for even an experienced homeowner to handle. An option to avoid surprise costs is to sign up for a home repair insurance program or a pre-payment plan with your HVAC company.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21