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Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner Before Calling a HVAC Technician

If your air conditioner isn’t working properly, try these steps before calling a technician. These troubleshooting tips might help you fix the problem quickly and save on service costs.




Step 1: Check the Thermostat


1. Ensure the thermostat is set to “cool”:

• Make sure it is set to a temperature lower than the current room temperature.

2. Check the power source:

• Replace the batteries if the thermostat is battery-powered.

• Confirm the thermostat is properly connected to its power source.


Step 2: Inspect the Air Filters


1. Locate the air filter:

• This is usually near the return air duct or the air handler.

2. Check for dirt and debris:

• If the filter is dirty or clogged, replace it with a new one.

• Filters should typically be replaced every 1-3 months.


Step 3: Examine the Circuit Breaker


1. Find your electrical panel:

• This is often in the basement, garage, or utility room.

2. Check for tripped breakers:

• If the breaker for the air conditioner has tripped, reset it by flipping it off and then back on.


Step 4: Ensure the Outdoor Unit is Clean


1. Locate the outdoor unit:

• This is the condenser unit outside your home.

2. Clear away debris:

• Remove any leaves, dirt, or other debris around the unit.

• Ensure there is at least 2 feet of clearance around the unit for proper airflow.

3. Clean the coils:

• Turn off the power to the unit.

• Use a garden hose to gently rinse the coils. Do not use high pressure.


Step 5: Check for Obstructions


1. Inspect the vents:

• Ensure all supply and return vents inside your home are open and unobstructed.

• Remove any furniture or objects blocking the vents.


Step 6: Verify the Drain Line


1. Locate the condensate drain line:

• This is usually a PVC pipe near the indoor air handler.

2. Check for clogs:

• If the line is clogged, use a wet/dry vacuum to remove the blockage.

• Pour a mixture of water and vinegar through the line to help clear any buildup.


Step 7: Assess the Refrigerant Lines


1. Inspect the refrigerant lines:

• These are the copper pipes running from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit.

2. Check for ice or frost:

• If you notice ice on the lines, turn off the unit and let it thaw. This could indicate a refrigerant leak or other issue requiring professional attention.


Step 8: Listen for Unusual Noises


1. Turn on the air conditioner:

• Listen for any unusual sounds such as grinding, squealing, or rattling.

2. Identify the source:

• If you hear strange noises, this might indicate a mechanical issue that needs a professional inspection.


If none of these steps resolve the issue, it’s time to call a professional HVAC technician. Be sure to provide them with details of the steps you’ve already taken, which can help speed up the diagnosis and repair process.

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