Air Conditioning Troubleshooting Tips for Homeowners

An air conditioning service contract should not stop homeowners from learning troubleshooting tips for common air conditioning problems. Even with a reliable AC maintenance service, it possible to be failed by a provider when you are in dire need of professional air conditioning troubleshooting. Well-maintained air conditioning systems will function appropriately with minimal unexpected flaws.

Often homeowners will reach out to their AC maintenance service provider when faced with heating and cooling issues hoping for a rapid response. Unfortunately, quick responses and services are not always available. People need to learn some basic tactics on how to manage their air conditioning systems without entirely depending on professional AC support.

Some defects in air conditioners can be managed without a specific set of skills. This guide is meant to equip homeowners with the right knowledge that will help them during challenging moments when faced with heating and cooling issues. The discussed guidelines should not be used to replace the scheduled air conditioning maintenance programs. But it should be an alternative to resolve home cooling and heating complications in a prompter way.

Homeowners should never use this guide with intentions to save the cost associated with air conditioning professional service. Instead, their aim should be to avoid wasting time on snags that they can handle with basic knowledge. Here are simple air conditioning troubleshooting tips that homeowners must know:

Inadequate Air Flow in the AC System

A dirty air filter can hinder the flow of air, causing the malfunctioning of the air conditioning unit. Modern air conditioners are very delicate, and slight dirt on the filters can result in huge complications. Homeowners must check the filters to be sure they are clean. If there is a need for replacement, this must be reported to the maintenance service company. Future issues must be addressed through proper dust management and regular cleaning of air conditioning filters.
Sometimes water can accumulate in air conditioning units, causing challenges in airflow. Homeowners must assess their units for possible ice accumulation. An ice build-up is easy to spot on external units and can be managed with minimal effort. While it is hard to spot water accumulation in the inner units, hand examining will help address issues of coldness.

AC Is Not Cooling

When the air conditioner fails to cool the air as expected, homeowners should check the furnace. They should set the regulator to AC mode and reduce the temperature. This should get the furnace fan running. Additionally, they should reset the circuit breaker on their furnace. If this does not activate the furnace to start operating, professional help should be considered.

A homeowner should also verify the temperature settings on the controller for any erroneous set-ups. If the unit settings are turned off or set to heating mode, they should adjust the thermostat to cooling mode.

If the AC is still not cooling, they should reset the main air conditioning breaker. Ensure the outdoor condensing components and air handlers are functioning appropriately. Also, ensure that the outdoor condensing unit is not covered with ice. Reset the system by disconnecting the AC breaker from the main HVAC box and engaging it after an hour. Professional help should be considered if no improvements are recorded.

Overflow in the Drain Pan

Clogs can be a huge hindrance to the performance of the drain pan. Homeowners should check if exhaust pipes are blocked. If there are signs of clogs, the system should be turned off. It is advisable to hire a professional in such an instance to troubleshoot your system.

Interchangeable Failure of Fans and Compressors

Cooling professionals can handle compressor complications better than you. However, if the compressor starts but the condenser does not turn on, it could be a problem with the fan motor. These repairs should be left to a competent professional.

Thermostat Programming

Setting the air conditioning system is not that challenging. An average homeowner should be able to program a thermostat properly. Heating and cooling needs vary every season. That is why homeowners should regularly assess their thermostat settings and reset accordingly. Before they conclude that the AC is faulty, they should first check their thermostat settings and adjust to match the current heating or cooling demands.

Thermostat Battery Not Working

Homeowners should not rely on a professional AC service provider to change thermostat batteries. A failure of the AC unit can be due to dead thermostat batteries. No communication will happen in the air conditioning system if the thermostat is not powered.

Homeowners must regularly confirm if the batteries are functioning and change them when necessary.

AC Air Handler Not Running

This can be a power failure issue. Checking and fixing the circuit breaker and all other controls can help resolve the issue. If not, the problem could be the furnace cabinet. Check if it is open and have it closed. This will complete the circuit, and the air handler will start running.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

Tripping of circuit breakers is usual. In the case of AC failures, homeowners should check the circuit breaker. If it is not connected, they should be able to reconnect it.

AC Air Is Not Cold as Required

If AC blows warm or hot air, the issue is not the blower motor or thermostat. This is a sign of a malfunctioning of the refrigeration system, which can be triggered by dirty filters. For optimal efficiency, homeowners should clean their AC filters regularly.

Air Vents Issues

Homeowners can assess AC air vents without an expert’s help. They should examine the vents and air ducts for possible clogs. Often dirt tends to be trapped in these areas hindering the proper flow of air. Simple cleaning of the vents will relieve a homeowner of the distress of having to deal with heating and cooling complications.

Homeowners can do many things to combat common air conditioning problems facing them. Some situations may demand professional intervention. Before a homeowner contacts an HVAC expert, they should assess the situation and fix what is within their capability. Waiting for professional help may mean more days with a failed air conditioning system. The troubleshooting tips discussed above can revive a malfunctioning air conditioner and get it up and running.

The Future of HVAC Systems: Smart Thermostats

Today’s world is an era where smartphones link us to almost every part of our existence — and this trend looks set to continue. This revolution in technology also extends to the manner in which we regulate indoor temperature. Consequently, the humble thermostat, that has been a standard feature in properties for years has evolved considerably.

Modern control systems or thermostats can provide a wide variety of features, via a smartphone. These gadgets make it simple to align your home comforts with your lifestyle. However, is this clever, new home tech compatible with your present cooling and heating system?

In all likelihood, your present cooling and heating system was designed for one purpose — to cool or heat your property. It might not have been made to interact with the different models of control tech available today. Based on what HVAC system you have in your property, it could be that just a particular control system or thermostat controls the system’s functionality. Typically, it depends on the kind of system that was fitted and the wires (or missing wires) between the thermostat and the system.

What an HVAC System Consists of

Cooling and heating equipment take a number of forms (e.g., gas furnace, heat pump, air handler, and air conditioner, etc.), with a range of different features. To ensure that your thermostat is able to control the equipment features properly, it needs to engage with the HVAC system’s operational modes.

For instance:

  • If there is a heat pump in your property, the control system or thermostat ought to have the ability to operate the auxiliary heat feature. If it’s gas furnace specific, you might be unable to control this feature.
  • A variable or two-step speed system might only operate at one speed if the control system or thermostat is not compatible with two-step wiring.
  • A double fuel system that consists of a heat pump and gas furnace ought to be linked to a control system or thermostat that can house the particular heating points.
  • In most cases, if your system is of the multi-step or variable speed variety or one that is intended for specific parts of your property, you might need to fit a sophisticated thermostat that can communicate with these kinds of systems. Obviously, if you are unsure about which kind of system you have in your property, it is wise to seek the help of a technician.

Voltage and Wires

Although you should use a certified professional to deal with any wires in your property, understanding the basic principles of thermostat voltage and wiring will help you better understand the advice from your contractor. Lots of sophisticated thermostats come with features, like property automation options, that have to be powered constantly by a C wire (common wire).

The C wire sends a steady stream of power to the thermostat it is linked to. If your property’s existing set up does not feature a dedicated common wire, you might have to hire a certified HVAC engineer to install the necessary wiring for sophisticated control systems or thermostats.

These days, the most popular thermostat models use wiring with low voltage. Usually, these wires are extremely thin, like the wiring used for phone jacks and doorbells. Low voltage control systems or thermostats are often used to link to:

Traditional gas-powered air furnaces

  • Multi-step or one-step heat pump delivering cooling and heating
  • Electrical central air-con units that have forced air ductwork
  • Certain control systems or thermostats that use line voltage, fuelled by a regular 240 volt or 120-volt circuit. Normally, these are thick wires, similar to those used inside light switches or wall outlets. Mainly, these types of devices are used for electrical resistance heating units, like in-wall heaters and electric baseboard heaters.

To identify the particular set up in your property, speak to a certified HVAC engineer.

Features of low Energy HVAC Systems

If you intend to update your HVAC system equipment from a one-step to an efficient variable-speed or two-step system, your present control system or thermostat might not be made to house the extra energy-efficient elements.

Perhaps you are thinking, “What is an equipment ‘step’?” This is the answer:

One step: Your cooling or heating unit runs at full capacity until it achieves your desired indoor temperature, then it switches off.
Two-steps: Your cooling or heating unit can run at full capacity and lower speeds, based on demand.
Multi-step or variable-speed: Your unit provides different output levels to meet demand.

Do not overlook the energy-efficient advantages of your new unit, just because the equipment isn’t connected to the thermostat properly. Based on the unit installed, you might have to buy a coordinating control system or thermostat. To make sure you are receiving the most benefit from new cooling and heating equipment, speak to a certified engineer about the latest cooling and heating equipment and thermostat compatibility.

Technological Developments in HVAC Systems

In the past, standard premium HVAC units restricted homeowners to a particular, and often costly, smart control system or thermostat. Nonetheless, instead of depending on the thermostat’s communicating technology, creative manufacturers are starting to include this clever technology in the circuitry of the central cooling and heating systems. This inbuilt technology might actively evolve and make regular adjustments automatically, as required, to the cooling and heating system depending on the homeowner’s instructions.

This new sophisticated technology gives homeowners the chance to stick with their existing one step thermostat, or pick from a broad selection of control systems or thermostats available for sale.

A certified HVAC dealer can evaluate your indoor equipment and identify which control system or thermostat best suits your requirements.

Central AC Vs. Window Units

Choose any random residential street, and you will certainly see plenty of window air conditioning units. Those clunky, cumbersome boxes secured in open windows are supposed to be a complete system to cool down a chosen room in your home.

And this is your first issue, because they work only in a room, and not your whole house.

Some choose to deal with this issue by using several window air conditioners as a workaround. And this is where we ask you: are you sure this is your best possible solution?

What if you had access to a system that is cost-efficient, easily programmable, unobtrusive, and also increases the value of your home?

These are all the benefits you get when you install a central AC.

Next, we will go into the details of the battle between central ACs and window units. You will quickly realize that a central AC system always wins the duel when you compare them in terms of cost reduction and energy efficiency.

1. Cost-Efficiency

During the past 10 to 15 years, the central AC systems certified by Energy Star became 30 to 40% more efficient. That alone means big monthly savings for your budget!

A central AC system uses from 3,000 to 5,000 W per hour. While the number sounds big, keep in mind that it will cool down your entire home.

Having multiple window AC units end up drawing the same amount of electricity, while also being less efficient. Their window position isn’t airtight, so cold air escapes continually to outside your home. Why would you keep paying for that?

2. Quieter

Central ACs were designed to bring more comfort to you, the end-user. That has also included noise levels. The machinery is located outside your home, which reduces the indoor noise levels when you are trying to get focused on your tasks or relaxing to sleep.

Window ACs, on the other hand, are very noisy, right there in the room where you are. This becomes irritating after a short period of time.

3. Safer

A window AC represents a constant vulnerability to your home. It becomes much easier to suffer a break-in, especially for window units located on the ground floor.

On the other hand, central ACs do not create these vulnerabilities in your home. In other words, you can leave your home and fully lock it up, without a constant concern about trading off a cool home for home safety.

4. Simple Operation

If you ever installed a window AC, you know how big of a pain they are. Windows units are 80-lb heavy, or even more. It is a cumbersome job to be done alone.

And within 4 or 5 months, it comes time to uninstall it and put it in storage somewhere.

Central ACs are installed once. Then, all that remains is the operation via a programmable thermostat, and you are free to move on with your life.

Advanced thermostats allow you to set different temperatures for different times of the day, so your central AC system is always used in an efficient way. This way, you will stay cool and can simply forget about messing with an 80-lb metal box.

5. Air Quality Control

If you or someone in your family has allergies, or you are simply concerned about the presence of air contaminants indoors, a central AC system offers you an extra layer of protection because it is connected to the air handler in your furnace. In short, all the air that circulates in your home gets pumped through an air filter, so all your indoor air is cooled, filtered, and freshened.

Window units, on the other hand, don’t filter air the way they should. They also let warm air get in your home, as well as pollen, dust, and anything else that slips through the cracks.

6. Increase In Home Value

While it is easy to understand that a central AC system represents a big upfront investment, like all good investments, a central air conditioner adds value to your property.

If you decide to sell your home in the future, you can list among the features that you have a central air conditioning system that is well taken care of and very energy efficient.

Homebuyers are always interested in features that simplify their lives. A central AC has got to be as good as possible.

Central Air Wins All-Around

This is not to say that window units are worthless. They can represent an alternative to renters and people who live in small apartments. But when you are talking about a house, you need a solution that can solve your entire problem at once, instead of one room at a time.

Air Conditioner Repair Steps To Take Before You Call In A Professional

Calling in a professional for air conditioner repair in your home can be extremely expensive. There are going to be times when you have to pay for an expensive AC repair because you have no alternative, but you can always take a few steps with your system before you call in an expert. In a lot of cases, you will be able to fix the problem yourself.

Very often an AC unit will stop working for some simple reason. You will not want to pay a technician one hundred dollars to flip a switch or a breaker back on. Here are some quick steps you can perform by yourself that may fix the problem before you have to call in an HVAC technician for air conditioner repair. In many cases, you will be able to save a fair amount of money.

Do It Yourself Air Conditioner Repair Tips

These are some first steps you should take if your air conditioner is not working properly or if it is not putting out a lot of cool air.

1. Check The Breaker

In many cases, having a lot of appliances and lights on at the same time can trip the breaker, causing the air conditioner to stop working. Check this before you call in a technician as it can save you a lot of embarrassment, frustration, and money.

2. Check The Thermostat

Another part of your AC system that can cause problems is the thermostat. If the unit works on batteries, you may need to replace the old batteries with new ones. Be sure the thermostat is set for a temperature that is cooler than the room temperature. Check if the unit has been turned off or if is set to have only the fan blowing. Sometimes settings on thermostats get changed by accident without anyone noticing.

3. Change The Filter

Changing the air filter of your AC system regularly can help you avoid costly AC repair. A clogged and dirty filter can affect the operation of your AC system, causing it to have problems. Poor airflow will cause the system to lose efficiency when trying to cool the home. A clogged filter can even cause the system to develop ice. The filter should be frequently checked and replaced regularly.

4. Melt Ice That Has Formed

If ice has formed in your unit, it will not be able to cool your home properly. It is quite easy to melt the ice that has formed. Turn the system off and let the fan run so the ice can melt more quickly. You can also turn the unit off and allow the ice to melt.

5. Clean The System

Sometimes the air conditioning unit stops working effectively because it has collected a lot of dirt and grime. Your unit may benefit from a cleaning and perhaps an AC repair is not necessary. You can clean the fan blades of the outside unit if you are very careful and you can remove debris that has accumulated near the unit. You can also clean the condenser fins. It is easy to break or bend the fins and blades so you must be very careful when you clean them. It is extremely important that you turn off the unit before you clean it.

6. Examine The Ducts

If you are able to climb up into the attic, you can check the air ducts to ensure that air is blowing out of them. If they are very dirty, they should be cleaned as the dirt may restrict the airflow. Check that the registers are open as they can be closed partially or completely without you noticing it.

The above steps are things you can do if your air conditioning unit at home is not working properly. Taking these steps can help you save money. Of course, you may have a problem that can only be fixed by a professional HVAC technician. Only a specialist in air conditioner repair should add refrigerant to the unit or handle electrical repairs.


We sell, service and install commercial and residential heating, air conditioning, dehumidifier, humidifier and air filtration equipment. Since we do not sell oil or gas, we have no conflicting interests when it comes to the efficiency of your systems.
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