Common Air Conditioner Problems. What to Look for When Your Home is Not Getting Cool

Perhaps you notice that your home is warmer than it is supposed to be, that the return vents are blowing warm air, or that the unit is failing to engage when temperatures exceed your set temperature. However, if you notice the problem, if you discover that your air conditioner is not working, you want to know two things: 1) what is causing the problem and 2) how to fix it. Major air conditioning problems cannot be diagnosed with a simple online tutorial, but a surprising number of air conditioning problems are due to simple problems around the home.

Your air conditioner is not turning on.

Check to make sure that your thermostat is set to the appropriate settings. Some smart thermostats automatically reset themselves at much higher temperatures during record heat days to avoid drawing energy during peak demand hours; you might walk in to find that your house feels warm, only to discover that your thermostat is to blame.
The next thing to do is to check and see if your circuit breaker has tripped. Sometimes, especially with power surges and rolling brownouts that might occur in the summertime, you may have experienced a small power surge that was just enough to pop the breaker for your air conditioning unit. If the breaker has been tripped, give it time to cool down, make sure your air conditioner is the only appliance drawing electricity from that circuit, and re-engage the circuit. If the circuit continues to be a problem, you may have an electrical problem in your unit and should have a technician out to ensure that it can operate safely.

Your air conditioner is blowing, but the air is warm.

Have you cleaned your filters? Dirty, clogged filters impact the performance of air conditioning units much more than people realize. Check your filters. If they are dirty, either clean them or replace them. You may notice an immediate improvement in air temperature.
Is there visible ice on any exterior or interior part of your air conditioning unit? If so, this indicates that your air conditioner is “frozen” somewhere. Turn your whole system off to give it a chance to defrost, and you can turn it back on after a few hours. You still want to call and have the unit checked, because a properly functioning system should not freeze up and you might have a Freon leak or other problem that could lead to more serious malfunctions if not remedied.

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