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Summer is here! You don't want to be sweating in those hot and humid days, especially when the air conditioning should be keeping you cool. Therefore it is essential to fix a malfunctioning AC unit to avoid being uncomfortable from the heat in your own home. You can fix your AC unit on yourself without hiring a professional. You will need the right tools and knowledge on how to troubleshoot the AC failures.
Gather the following tools:
- Nut driver
- Voltage tester
- Insulated screwdriver
- Cordless drill
- Adjustable wrench
- Socket set
Anatomy of an AC unit
As stated on Drake Comfort, Your AC consists of two major parts: the condensing unit and the evaporator coil. The condensing unit contains the contractor, condenser fan motor, and capacitor. It also has a compressor, but only a licensed professional should replace it.
The evaporator or the A-coil contains a refrigerant that picks up hot air and pushes it to the condensing unit outdoor. The condensing unit fan cools down the air by blowing out hot air via the A-coil.
Signs your air conditioner is not working.
AC units behave differently when they are not functioning correctly. Before you start fixing possible issues, determine whether your AC is:
- Not working completely?
- Running but not cooling well?
- Dripping water?
- Making loud noises?
- Won't turn off?
DIY fixes for common air conditioner issues
The following DIY techniques are there for each specific air conditioning issue:
Air conditioner not running
When the thermostat motions your AC system to start cooling but it doesn't start:
- Locate and check for electrical panel and circuit breakers. Reset tripped circuit breakers by flipping them off then back on. You should also replace a fuse if it is blown.
- Ensure your power supply is switched on by checking the switches in the air handler.
- Make sure the thermostat is on cool setting. The temperature setting should be a few degrees below the room temperature. An incorrectly configured thermostat is reset to heat/cold and then retested.
- Determine whether your thermostat is broken by removing its lid and replacing the batteries.
- Check wire connections of the capacitor. A faulty capacitor prevents your air conditioner from running. Start by shutting down the AC unit. Remove the cover of your air conditioner and use the multimeter to find a short in the connections.
Air conditioner not cooling but running.
The blockage of airflow in the registers, compressors, and filters, inhibits cold air from the vents of your running AC unit.
When the following areas malfunction, your air conditioner will not cool efficiently:
- Thermostat is falling or configured incorrectly.
- Frozen coil will prevent airflow.
- Circuit breakers may not be getting electricity.
- The AC filter may be blocked with dirt, thus not functioning correctly.
- Condenser motor fan not running.
- Dirty drains and pans will inhibit proper draining.
- Clogged air registers will make the condensing coil to ice up.
- The connect technology may not be functioning correctly.
To prevent airflow blockage:
- Replace or clean the air filters. Start this by pulling out the air filters from your AC system. If they are dirty or have debris, soak them in a vinegar and water solution to kill bacteria and dirt. Allow the filters to drain and dry out. Do not clean ripped out air filters, instead replace them as they won't function efficiently.
- Look for ice accumulation within the A-coil. If you notice the ice, close your AC system and turn the fan on to melt it. Stained coils and filters instigate the accumulation of ice within the coils.
- Clean the outdoor AC unit compressor if the compressor motor fan is not turning on. Use the screwdriver to spin the blades of the fan clockwise. If the blades begin to spin freely, your capacitor needs replacement. If the fan blades do not move at all, consider hiring a professional to recharge the system's coolant.
Air conditioner dripping water
If you live in a climate with high humidity levels, your air conditioning unit creates gallons of water daily. The water exits the unit through a drain tube, which is fixed on the air handler. When water is puddling at the bottom of your AC, the drain tube is also dripping, or the condensate pump is not functioning correctly. To fix this issue:
- Make sure your condensate pump is linked to a power source. You should also ensure the drain tubing is firmly fixed in the pump. When you notice drain tube blockage, use a wet and dry vacuum cleaner to draw water from the tube.
- You should test the condensate by pouring water into the collector. If the pump does not start, it is faulty; thus, you should disconnect it and clean it out.
The air conditioner is noisy
If your air conditioner makes noise, the outdoor compressor, duct-work, and air handler are to blame.
Outdoor compressor making noise
Here is what causes noises from the outdoor compressor and how to fix it:
- If the outdoor compressor has a humming sound, this is caused by a low voltage in the unit. The transformer of the unit should be replaced.
- If your outdoor compressor is making a grating noise, the motors are worn out. Fix this by replacing the motor.
- If your outdoor compressor produces a buzzing sound, the capacitor is not working. You should fix this by replacing the capacitors.
Duct work making noise
The heating and cooling ducts in your AC unit are made up of metal and, therefore, conduct noise easily. To fix duct-work noise:
- Locate the source of a pinging noise from the ducts and make a small indent to create a more firm surface that will move when it heats and cools.
Air handler making noise
The air handler makes a squealing or buzzing noise. To fix this:
- Check whether the motor and belt are connected properly. Some AC units have driven motors, while some are belt driven. Squealing sounds that come from belt drive units meant that the belt is wrongly fixed or needs replacement.
Air conditioner not turning off
Your AC should turn off automatically when room temperature reaches the point you set on the thermostat. To fix an air conditioner that is continually running:
- Check if the thermostat is showing any value. If it shows a clear display, the thermostat is broken and needs replacement.
Repairing your air conditioner will save you money on energy bills and improve your AC unit's working efficiency. With this knowledge now at your fingertips, be ready for a cool and comfortable summer.