Before You Call – A Few Simple Troubleshooting Tips Can Save You Money This Summer
No cool air coming from your system? Something must be broken! Call the HVAC technician!!
Many people simply pick up the phone and call for service. When the technician arrives, they find something simple, leave you with a bill for service call, and leave in 15 minutes. Ouch. You realize you could have solved the problem yourself. HVAC techs say that about one in four service calls are for reasons that require no technical skill— like resetting a circuit breaker, or a thermostat that’s set to heat when you want air conditioning.
Before you call, check a few simple things that may save you money (and a little embarrassment).
Check the Power
It sounds crazy but you would be surprised to learn that technicians get called out to find the issue is related to the power supply. First thing to check is if there is electrical power to the house. If there is no power, is it the entire neighborhood or is it localized to your home?
If localized, perhaps the circuit breaker has tripped or a fuse has blown? If your home has a circuit breaker, turn it all the way off, then on again. Keep in mind that circuit breakers trip for safety reasons and if the breaker trips again, an electrician should look into the problem. If your home is still on fuses, has the HVAC fuse blown? You can tell by the color if a fuse is burned out; it looks different from the others. Replace it with the same size and type of fuse.
In some municipalities or states, HVAC systems require a safety switch. These often look like a regular wall switch close to the unit. Sometimes people can mistake these switches for a light switch. Depending on where they are located, they may accidently be flipped or bumped, and need to be reset. Where required, code usually requires the switch plate to be clearly marked (usually it is red with warning letters). But sometimes these switch plates get changed for one reason or another with a regular switch plate and it is mistaken for a light switch. Make sure this switch (if it is a standard wall light switch) is clearly marked for heating and cooling system.
Check the Thermostat
A great deal of service calls that turn out to be related to thermostats that are not set to air conditioning. Remember to switch the setting to cool when warmer weather arrives!
Make sure that the temperature setting on the thermostat is set below the indoor temperature showing on the thermostat. This prompts the HVAC system to turn on to cool your home.
If the thermostat display doesn’t light up, change the batteries.
Change the filter in the furnace. The airflow to your A/C unit is very important and air filters should be changed regularly. If they’re not changed regularly, the restriction of air can cause the A/C unit to malfunction. It is a good idea to keep extra filters on hand for when you need to change them quickly (because you forgot, oops).
Is your outside condenser unit running? This can be a dead giveaway! If the unit outside is not running you may have a larger issue.
Is the equipment door secure on the unit? Even if you are an experienced DIY-er sometimes it is the little things that get us. OOOOPS! You left the hinge open! This is a safety control. Check that all doors, latches and covers are on securely.
What about the condensation pump and/or A/C drain line? Many A/C units have a water safety switch to stop them from operating if water could leak into your home and ruin ceilings and floors. Checking for water in a pan under the unit could tell you the drain is clogged. Simply empty the pan and flush out the drain line and the unit may start operating again.
What about the safety switch in the pan under the A/C unit? We see it happen in attics where someone was moving boxes in and out of an attic and bumped the unit or pan. This switch could be the problem. Do not bypass the safety switch or you could have a huge water mess in your home.
Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked by furniture. Check all supply air registers to make sure they are open and blowing air.
Before you call, be sure to do a few quick checks and adjustments. You may have cool air sooner than you think. Plus, if you do need to call, your diagnostic work will help the technician focus in on exactly what the issue may be with the cooling system – resulting in shorter service calls which saves you money.
If you are uncomfortable checking any of these things always call for service and let the technician resolve the issue for you. Sometimes there could be more than one problem even if you find any of the above issues.
The Patriot team of experts are always available to service your HVAC unit, whether you have done some troubleshooting or not. If you have been experiencing issues with your HVAC system and the attempts you’ve made to fix it have failed, contact us. We are here to keep your home comfortable throughout the summer.