10 Easy Ways to Troubleshoot Common Central AC Problems

There are few things more frustrating than your air conditioning unit not working at the peak of summer heat. Without a functioning AC unit, your home becomes uncomfortable and your energy bills can spike. If your unit isn’t keeping you cool, try these 10 troubleshooting tips to get it back up and running before calling a repair person to fix your broken air conditioner.

1. Set Your Thermostat Correctly

The first step you should take when troubleshooting your air conditioning unit is ensuring that your thermostat setting is on cool rather than heat. Yes, this may sound like a no-brainer, but people forget to change this setting after the winter months more often than you would think. Complete this quick step first before moving on to other troubleshooting tasks or calling a professional.

2. Close Your Windows and Doors

This tip may also seem obvious, but leaving windows and outside doors open is a common way that people misuse their air conditioning unit. When you allow warm air to enter your home through windows and doors, it causes your AC to work overtime to cool the air. This means you spend more on your cooling bills than you need to and it makes your unit less efficient over time. So, make sure your family remembers to always close windows and exterior doors when the AC is running.

3. Investigate for Tripped Circuit Breakers

It’s possible that your air conditioning won’t turn on because your circuit breakers were tripped due to overloading. Check the AC breakers on your electrical panel and turn them off and on again. Then try running your AC a few minutes later to see if it will work. If not, you may need to replace the fuse. If the breakers and fuse still aren’t working, call a licensed electrician to take a look to be safe.

4. Clean Your Air Filters

A dirty air filter is one of the most common causes of air conditioning problems. Dirt, dust and pet hair build up over time, clogging the air and slowing down your AC. Air filters are located in your furnace and should be replaced every three months, particularly if you have pets or run your unit frequently. Ignoring your air filters can lead to much higher energy bills and broken equipment.

5. Call a Technician to Check for Low Refrigerant

If your air conditioning unit is not cooling your home properly, it could be because you don’t have enough refrigerant. Refrigerant is what pulls heat and humidity out of the air and it is the key element to run an efficient AC unit. You may need to add more refrigerant, however, it’s also possible that low refrigerant is due to leaks in your system. In that case, you may need to replace your AC unit if the leaks are too severe for repair. In either case, a technician with the proper equipment is necessary.

6. Open Your Air Vents

You may have purposefully closed vents in rooms that you don’t use very often, thinking that this would save money on your energy bills. However, closing vents in your home can cause damage to your air conditioning unit and lead to expensive repairs or replacements. All homes lose some amount of air through tiny duct leaks. Closing vents pushes more air through and puts extra pressure on ducts, causing even more air to be lost through leaks. So, if you think keeping vents closed saves you money, be aware that it may actually make your energy bills go up.

7. Get Your Air Ducts Cleaned

In addition to leaks or tears in your air ducts, they may also be clogged with dirt and dust. In some more extreme cases, your air ducts may also have mould in them. Sometimes, you can tell if your ducts are blocked if you see dust coming out of your vents or your air conditioning unit is cooling the air unevenly. If you notice a musty smell when you turn on your AC unit, that could indicate mold. In either case, if you suspect your air ducts are dirty, you should get your ducts inspected and cleaned by a professional.

8. Investigate for Water Leaks

If water is leaking from your air conditioning unit into your home, turn it off immediately to avoid costly water damage. These leaks are sometimes caused by a drain line becoming clogged and backing water up into your home. You can try troubleshooting the drain issue with a wet/dry vacuum to see if that will stop the water leak. If not, it is likely a different part that needs to be replaced by a professional.

9. Check Your Outdoor AC Unit

When a problem happens with your AC unit, it’s often because the system components within your home aren’t working properly, such as the vents and ducts. But don’t forget to take a look at the outdoor part of your unit (also known as the condenser). Over time, debris, such as weeds, dirt and leaves, can build up on the condenser, causing inefficient cooling and higher energy bills. Try spraying the unit with a hose to clean off the dirt and debris, cut any grass or weeds around the unit, and make sure any large objects are at least two feet away.

10. Call a Licensed Technician

We have outlined many steps you can take to troubleshoot your AC problems, but sometimes these DIY tips aren’t quite enough. Always make an effort to keep your unit well-maintained to prevent costly repairs or replacement and identify when it’s time to call a professional. In certain cases, a licensed technician is the best solution to safely solve your AC problems.

We recommend you get your air conditioner inspected near the end of spring. A professional inspection provides peace of mind (and wallet), letting you know if your system is in good working order before you need it.

When it comes to maintaining your equipment, an air conditioner maintenance plan can help prevent breakdowns by solving future problems before they occur, such as faulty materials or carbon monoxide leaks. Our certified technicians can assess your current equipment and generate a personalized report of recommendations to ensure your unit runs safely and efficiently.

At Enercare, we understand how frustrating it can be when your air conditioning unit isn’t working correctly, especially at the height of the summer heat. We are here for you to help diagnose any AC problems you are having.

Before calling for air conditioner repair, give us a call to learn more about your AC options, such as protection plans.