Summer is tough on air conditioners here in the Cincinnati area. If you’re living with an older AC, it’s likely that you may run into trouble. But before you pick up that phone to call for repairs, try these AC troubleshooting tips from the team at Herrmann Services. It just may save you a service call!
AC Troubleshooting Tips
When your air conditioner isn’t working, it’s usually one of two issues. Either it won’t turn on at all, or it’s running, but not blowing cool air.
Try these tips before you call a professional.
The AC Is On, but the Air Isn’t Cool
Dirty Air Filter – Believe it or not, this can be caused by a dirty air filter. Check your filter to see how dirty it is and replace it if necessary. (Remember, it is important to change your filter once a month to ensure proper airflow and cooling.)
Ice Accumulation – Ice in the outdoor unit can also cause your AC to run sluggishly. If you see ice you should turn off the AC, turn the fan to the on position, and allow it to thaw for a couple of hours. Turn it back on. If it ices up again, you may need to call for professional help.
Clogged Condensate Drain – If you are still having trouble, check the condensate drain tube. Algae tends to build up in this tube, clogging it, and causing your AC to fail.
AC Won’t Turn On
If your AC is not kicking on, it could be a simple fix. Check these things:
Tripped Breaker – check your electrical panel to make sure that the breaker connected to your AC hasn’t been tripped. If it has, reset it. If it trips again, you may need a professional to come take a look at why your AC is drawing so much power.
Power Switch – look to see if the power switch on the side of your furnace is turned on. (Yes, there’s a power switch on the side of your furnace.) Sometimes it gets accidentally bumped.
Thermostat – check your thermostat to make sure that it isn’t set to the heat or off position. Also check to make sure that the batteries in your thermostat are not dead. (You’d be surprised how many service calls we answer and the problem is one of these two things. It happens.)
Check Your Condenser Unit (The Box Outside)
Don’t forget your air conditioner has another piece – the outside condenser unit. Look for these three problems:
A safety precaution first – The condenser is a 240-volt box, so turn off the power to it at the electrical panel before working on it. Also turn off the disconnect box located outside, near your unit. (It will either be a lever, fuses, or a circuit breaker to shut off the condenser.) Allow about 30 minutes for the electrical charge that’s stored in the condenser’s capacitor to dissipate. Okay, now it’s safe to check the unit. We recommend letting one of our qualified technicians look over these items.
Clear Debris – Make sure the unit is clean and clear of debris. Clear away dirt, leaves, etc. that could be restricting airflow.
Check the Fan – Make sure it is clear of debris and able to spin freely.
Check for Broken Coolant Lines – Check the coolant lines (pipes that connect the condenser unit outside to the evaporator on the inside unit). They can get bumped around being outside.
Turn the unit back on. First, turn the thermostat in your home to OFF. Then turn on the power at both the disconnect box and at the main panel. Last, switch the thermostat to COOL. Give it some time and see if you feel cool air blowing from the ducts. You can also check your outdoor unit. The air blowing out of the top should be warmer than the surrounding air.
How to Know When It’s Smarter to Replace Than Repair
If your AC is old and unreliable, you’re probably considering replacement. But how do you know when it makes more sense to replace than spending money to repair it? First, look for these four warning signs that the time is near:
- Your unit is 10-12 years old
- You’ve paid for three or more repairs over the last two years
- Your energy bills seem excessive
- You are experiencing uneven cooling or certain rooms feel uncomfortable. (Sometimes hot spots can be due to poor ductwork. We can inspect your ducts and make adjustments if that is the case.)
These are all clues that it is getting close to the time to replace your unit. Luckily, there’s a formula you can use to help you decide. We call it the $5,000 rule.
The $5,000 Rule
Multiply the age of your AC unit by the repair cost, and if that exceeds $5,000, then replace the unit. If it’s less, go ahead and repair it.
Here is an example, if your unit is 10 years old and the repair will cost $450, multiply 10 x 450 to equal $4,500. It is less than $5,000, so it’s okay to have it repaired.
Consider the Rising Cost of Freon
If your repair involves adding Freon because of a leak, you have something else to consider. A leak means you will have to add more coolant every year and the price of Freon is rising each year. That’s because about 25 years ago, the EPA ordered the phasing out of Freon as part of an international treaty focused on protecting the ozone layer. After 2010, no air conditioners that run on Freon could be manufactured. Production of Freon has also been reduced in subsequent years. By 2020, production of Freon will end, so the price will only continue to rise. New systems run on a different kind of coolant which requires a completely different system, so unfortunately, the new coolant cannot replace Freon in an old system.
Let Us Help with AC Repairs or Replacement
If your AC has several of the symptoms we listed, we will be happy to take a look and either repair or replace the unit so you and your family stay cool and comfortable. Herrmann Services is proud to install Airease air conditioners, so if your air conditioner is on its last leg we will be happy to provide a free estimate.