How to Fix an Air Conditioner

June 15, 2012

For the most part, air conditioners run pretty reliably season after season—unfortunately, during the lifespan of any cooling system, there are going to be a few bumps in the road! These bumps could range from minor inconveniences to major problems, but they don’t have to be a source of frustration! There are AC repair jobs that you can take care of easily at home—or even prevent them from happening in the first place.

Whether you’ve always wondered how to fix an air conditioner, or you’re just looking for the answer to your problem right now, check out our list of common AC problems and how you can fix them yourself!

Common Air Conditioner Problems and How to Fix Them

There are a lot of reasons why an air conditioner could be running poorly, or not working, that need to be addressed by an HVAC professional—faulty wiring, low refrigerant levels, poor installation, etc.—but there are a couple common problems that can be handled at home.

The Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On

There are two main reasons why an air conditioner won’t turn on:

  1. It could be disconnected.
  2. The thermostat could be low on batteries, if it’s not hard wired.

The fix: Sometimes, fixing an air conditioner isn’t that complicated—this is one of those cases. Check to make sure the disconnect switch for your air conditioner is turned on. You would be surprised by the number of people who forget that they shut down their AC over the winter and need to turn it back on again in the spring or summer. If flipping the switch doesn’t solve your problems (or it was already on), make sure your thermostat is working. Thermostats that aren’t hard wired, whether they’re programmable or not, need to have their batteries changed regularly. If changing the batteries doesn’t help, you may have to replace the thermostat.

The Air Conditioner is Running, but No Air is Blowing Out

Generally, this problem has two main culprits: clogged, dirty air filters or frozen coils. And in this case, one problem can lead to the other! Dirty filters block the airflow in your home, forcing your AC to work even harder to cool the air. This can cause the temperature in your evaporator to drop until it freezes over.

The fix: If your air conditioner is frozen, the first step is turning it off—you’ll need to give it a chance to thaw out and defrost before you can start it back up again or else you run the risk of damaging your system and requiring AC repair. Afterward, a good first course of action is replacing your air filter—in fact, you should be doing this every one to three months, depending on usage. This will make it easier for your air conditioner to cool your home and improve its lifespan.

When changing the air filter doesn’t fix frozen coils, you may need to evaluate your thermostat temperature. You should try not to set your thermostat much below 70-72°F because that subjects your evaporator coils—which are approximately 40°F colder than your indoor air—to temperatures below freezing. If turning up the temperature and changing your air filters doesn’t solve your problem, it’s time to call an air conditioning specialist—they will be able to diagnose the cause of your problem and recommend the best course of action.

The Air Coming Out of My Vents Isn’t Cold

We explained how an air conditioner works in a previous blog, but as a refresher, your air conditioner only has two modes: on and off. The refrigerant-filled evaporator coils in your AC are 40°F cooler than the air in your home, so it will return the air approximately 20°F cooler after it passes over the coils. Unfortunately, this also means that if the air in your home is pretty warm, like 95°F, the air coming from your vents might not feel very cold, either—it would only be 75°F in this case.

The fix: Wait! Give your air conditioner a chance to regulate the room temperature. It should fix itself over the course of the day and cool air should eventually be coming out of your vents again.

When You Have Other Air Conditioner Problems

If your air conditioner is suffering from another problem that isn’t addressed above, contact the experts at Rick’s Heating & Cooling. We can handle all your AC repair needs, large or small. Our highly trained technicians have been providing unparalleled service to the homeowners in the Cincinnati area since 1986, so they have the experience and knowledge necessary to help you! Call us today!