Central air conditioning is one of the most important comfort features of your home. For most people, calling an HVAC technician is the immediate step they take after finding that their central air isn't working. However, there are several common central air problems that any homeowner can troubleshoot and fix. Here are three problems that you should attempt to tackle yourself before calling a technician.
Central Air Won't Turn On
Few things are more frustrating than air conditioning that just doesn't turn on in the middle of the summer. If you experience this problem, the first thing you should check is the breaker box to see if the breaker to your central air unit has tripped. If the breaker hasn't tripped, you should next check that both the power switch on the outdoor unit and the double breaker in the metal box next to the outdoor unit are in the on position.
If the power switch, breaker, and double breaker are all on and your central air still isn't working, you likely have a problem with the thermostat. After turning off the power to the central air conditioner, remove the front faceplate of the thermostat so that the wires are exposed. You will see two wires running out of the wall connecting to different terminals (screws). Unscrew one of the terminals and remove the wire, and then loosen the other terminal and wrap the loose wire around it so that a single terminal is holding both wires. If your air conditioner comes on, you will know that the thermostat is faulty and needs to be replaced.
Air Conditioner Won't Stop Running
Air conditioning is essential when you need it, but an air conditioner that is running all the time can cause just as much of a problem as one that won't run at all. This problem is usually caused by a blockage in the unit that is restricting airflow. Turn off the power to your outdoor unit at the double breaker and remove the access panel to check the filter for dirt and debris. If the filter is not torn, you can usually clean it with a garden hose, but you will need to replace the filter if it is still clogged after you attempt to clean it. You can also use the garden hose to clean the metal fins on the outside of the unit, and you should trim back any weeds that have grown up around the unit that could be blocking airflow.
Home is Unevenly Cooled
Central air conditioners are designed to cool your entire home evenly, but occasionally you will find that some rooms are cooled while others stay too warm. This uneven cooling is usually caused by blockages in the registers and ductwork inside your home. First check for the obvious: make sure the registers dampers are open in all the rooms in your home. You can then use the brush attachment of your vacuum to clean dust and dirt off of the registers. If you have floor registers, you should unscrew the registers from the floor and check inside the ducts for objects that may have fallen in.
You should check for blockages in all ductwork that you can see, including in your attic and basement. If you locate a blockage in this ductwork, or if some of the ducts are torn, it is a fairly simple process to remove and replace ductwork yourself. Unfortunately, it is possible for blockages to build up in sections of your ductwork that are hidden behind the walls. It is not easy to access these blockages on your own, so you would benefit from having your ductwork professionally cleaned. In addition to helping your central air run more efficiently, this can also reduce allergy problems in your home by reducing the amount of dust and mold that is blown through your registers.
As these guidelines show, the most common central air problems can often be fixed with a few simple steps. Use these tips to add basic central air troubleshooting to your DIY repertoire. If you need help with maintenance or repairs, contact a local HVAC company, like Bishop Plumbing, Heating and Cooling.
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