At Wyckoff Heating & Cooling, we recognize there’s never an ideal time for your HVAC system to need a repair or replacement. The good news is, sometimes a service call can be prevented with a few simple troubleshooting tests. Before you invest in any major work on your air conditioner, try these steps first:
- Ensure your air conditioner is plugged in. Though it seems obvious, kids, pets or an accidental bump with the vacuum cleaner can unplug or completely dislodge the plug in.
- Check your thermostat. Ensure your thermostat is set to “Cool” at the current temperature, and is working properly. As with plug-ins, sometimes settings can change by accident. If your central air conditioner doesn’t go on automatically when the thermostat signals the need for cooling, it’s likely the thermostat isn’t functioning properly, or the unit isn’t receiving electrical power.
- Replace thermostat batteries. Turn off the power to the air conditioner, and remove the thermostat’s cover from the base. Replace the batteries, if applicable, and wait a few minutes before testing the system.
- Change the filter. While some air conditioners come with disposable filters, others have filters that can be cleaned with water. Cleaning or replacement should be a monthly routine. Dirty, clogged filters are the number one cause of system failure. They cause your HVAC system to work overtime, reduce efficiency and recirculate dust into your home. Filter updates are one of the least expensive ways to keep your air conditioner running at optimal levels.
- Inspect circuit breakers and fuses. Make sure breakers are in place and turned to the on position. Circuits, especially with older homes, are easily overloaded if the air conditioner shares a circuit with appliances such as irons, refrigerators or microwaves. If you discover an issue, reset the breaker by turning it off and then on or replace the fuse.
- Inspect fan belts. Check the fan belts on the outdoor system component for excessive slack, damage or breakage, and adjust or replace if necessary. This can cause low air flow which allows ice to form, and in turn, causes low cooling performance. Wyckoff has replacement parts available, and can help to ensure your new belt is compatible with your current system.
- Turn on the furnace power switch. Check to ensure both the furnace power switch and the outdoor condenser’s power switch are on. Also double-check the 240-volt disconnect next to the compressor, which is in a metal box usually mounted on the house wall, hasn’t been shut off.
- Clear the condensate-removal system. Air conditioners and high-efficiency combustion furnaces create significant condensation. This moisture will go one of two places – either into a gravity-fed drain or into a pan under the blower unit. What should you do? If it’s in the basement, the pan may have a small pump to move water to the drain. Test to ensure it’s functioning properly by checking the float. If the unit is in the attic, check to see if there is a kill switch. This is a wired water sensor set to a certain height in the pan. If the water touches it, the system should shut down.
- Clean outdoor components. The exterior condenser requires at least two feet of unobstructed space around it to function at maximum efficiency. Take a few minutes to clean the area surrounding the unit, and gently use a cloth or brush to clear dirt from the coil and fins. Give the condenser fan a good wash over with the garden hose, or use a vacuum and rag to clean the blades.
- Add oil. Some fans motors need oil, while other have sealed bearings. Check your owner’s manual, and if advised, add WD-40 or a specified lubricant to the bearings.
Cooling issues can be frustrating and confusing. If you have tried these troubleshooting steps and are still experiencing a system failure, contact Wyckoff Heating & Cooling immediately.