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Troubleshooting Your AC System Before Calling for Repair Service

Now is the time of year that air conditioner troubleshooting comes in handy! When your Indianapolis air conditioner is on the fritz, many homeowners fly into a panic. While we are honored that Williams Comfort Air is your first call for help, we may be able to help you even faster than a 24/7 emergency service call!

When an air conditioner isn’t performing to keep your home cool, sometimes the problem does require professional assistance. But, sometimes the solution is simpler than many Indianapolis homeowners realize. Some air conditioner troubleshooting is often the solution you need to get your cooling system back up and running without the fee or wait for a service call!

Air conditioner troubleshooting targets some easy issues – these are real problems that hinder system function but aren’t a system breakdown. And, these air conditioner troubleshooting steps are simple enough that you don’t need a technician to try them out!

If you’re faced with every homeowner’s nightmare this summer – an air conditioner that is unable to keep you cool – we recommend you run through our air conditioner troubleshooting tips before you call us to schedule service. If these don’t work, call us anytime to have one of our NATE-certified technicians come out to diagnose and fix your cooling system.

Why Try Air Conditioner Troubleshooting?

Simply put, some air conditioner troubleshooting has the potential to save you time, money, and discomfort. The issues below are so simple that most homeowners feel comfortable making these fixes – you don’t want to have to call us for air conditioning repair!

Waiting for a technician to come out does take a little time, especially in the summer. That means you may experience some discomfort while you wait if your air conditioner isn’t running. These simple fixes restore cooling system performance faster, so you don’t have to suffer. Plus, you save yourself a service call fee when air conditioner troubleshooting solves the problem – spend that money on summer fun instead of an unnecessary service call!

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting: Thermostat Settings

The first step for air conditioner troubleshooting is a look at your thermostat settings. Your thermostat is your air conditioner’s control system – it tells the air conditioner when to cycle on and off to maintain adequate temperatures inside the house.

Sometimes, if your air conditioner doesn’t come on, an error in thermostat settings is to blame. Start with thermostat settings for air conditioner troubleshooting that may be a quick fix.

  • Check the thermostat’s mode – it needs to be set to ‘cool’ to initiate the air conditioning system. If the controls have accidentally been set to ‘heat’ mode, your air conditioner will not run.

  • Set the temperature a few degrees below the current room temperature. This should cause the thermostat to relay the need for cooling to your air conditioner, which starts a cooling cycle. If you have a programmable thermostat, check to see that your temperature schedules accurately reflect your desired setpoints for cooling season – have you changed them yet this year?

  • Make sure the ‘vacation’ or ‘hold’ features are not in use. On programmable thermostats, these features override the normally set temperature schedules for times when your family is away from home. These features are handy for energy savings when your home is unoccupied. But, if they’re in use when you are home, they prevent your thermostat communication with the air conditioning system.

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting: Power Supply

Air conditioners need electricity to operate. Thermostats need power to run, too, whether they are battery-powered or hard-wired into your home’s electrical system. Air conditioner troubleshooting walks you through checks of your cooling system components’ power sources, as a lack of power leaves you without a functioning air conditioner.

  • Check your thermostat’s batteries. The batteries in your thermostat need to be replaced once per year, but it’s a smart idea to replace them prior to cooling season and heating season. If your thermostat’s batteries have died, they need to be replaced to allow communication to your air conditioner.

  • Check the breaker or fuse that controls the thermostat’s circuit. If the breaker is tripped or fuse burnt out, the thermostat has no power and is unable to activate your cooling system. Flip the breaker or replace the fuse if needed.

  • Check the breaker or fuse that powers your indoor and outdoor air conditioning system components. If these components do not have power from your home, they are unable to run. Flip breakers or replace fuses as needed.

  • Indoor and outdoor air conditioning components have on/off switches just like other appliances and devices. If the switch is accidentally moved to the ‘off’ position, that component doesn’t turn on and you don’t get cooling inside. The on/off switch for indoor components is likely located on your air handler or furnace, or on a nearby wall. For exterior air conditioning components, the switch is typically located on the exterior wall near the unit, likely along where the refrigerant lines run into the home.

Some HVAC systems have safety controls which do not allow them to run if access doors are open. Check the exterior of your air handler and ensure that the blower motor compartment door is closed and no other panels are loose.

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting: Airflow

Your air conditioning system needs proper airflow to function. Dirty cooling system components are common restrictions that prevent air movement through the system. With restricted airflow, components are prone to overheating. When components overheat, the system shuts down as a safety. It doesn’t turn on again until components have cooled, which leaves you without air conditioning.

These issues may not shut down your cooling system due to overheating, but they can still make it feel like your air conditioner isn’t keeping up with your cooling demand. A lack of air movement makes it feel warmer in your home, which may be remedied with some simple air conditioner troubleshooting.

  • Check your furnace filter to see if it needs replacement. If the surface is gray and caked with contaminants, insert a new filter. Always check your furnace filter monthly throughout the summer, as filters often become clogged and require replacement sooner than usual, because the cooling system is heavily used over the season.

  • Make sure your furnace filter is properly positioned. Airflow indicators printed on the sides of the filter’s frame indicate the direction it needs to be inserted into the filter cabinet. If it is not inserted into the cabinet in the correct position, it may block airflow.

  • Make sure your furnace filter is the right size. Furnace filters come in a multitude of sizes, and your system requires an exact fit. Don’t guess when you buy a new filter – check your owner’s manual to see the appropriate filter size for your cooling system. Filters that are not the correct size have the potential to fall out of the filter cabinet into the ducts and block airflow through the cooling system.

  • Inspect the exterior of your outdoor air conditioning unit – is it covered in grass clippings and other debris? This debris blocks heat from escaping through the system’s fins and makes it seem like your air conditioner isn’t adequately cooling your home. Turn off power to your unit and clean the exterior of the unit. Use a garden hose to rinse away debris and a soft brush to brush them away if necessary.

  • Make sure all vents throughout your home are opened and return air grilles unblocked. Check that vent louvers are opened and not shut, and move away carpets and furniture that are blocking these entrances and exits to the duct system.

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting: Iced Coils

If your home feels hot even though the air conditioner is on, its evaporator coils are potentially frozen. The evaporator coils are housed indoors and are the first step in extracting heat from your indoor air. When they freeze, the problem is often caused by airflow issues (perform the air conditioner troubleshooting steps above), or issues that require professional help, such as low refrigerant levels.

Air conditioner troubleshooting steps to thaw your evaporator coil:

  • Turn cooling off in your home to give the coils time to thaw and recover.

  • Instead of running the air conditioner, use the system’s fan to pass warmer air over the coils to help them thaw faster. On your thermostat, move the fan setting to ‘on’.

  • Check your drip pan and condensate drain lines to ensure they are not clogged. When you thaw your evaporator coils, extra moisture drips down into this collection system and drains out. If the drip pan or condensate drain line are clogged, thawed coils may create water damage to the air conditioner or areas of your home that are nearby.

What to Do When Air Conditioner Troubleshooting Doesn’t Work

If the air conditioner troubleshooting steps above aren’t successful, call Williams Comfort Air today for quick and reliable air conditioner repair in Indianapolis and the surrounding communities. Our NATE-certified technicians are on-hand around the clock to tend to your air conditioner repair emergencies. We are available day and night, on the weekend, and during the holidays to help you restore cooling in your Indianapolis area home.

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