Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner Problems.

Printable Troubleshooting PDF


If you’ve checked all the possible issues in the first list What to Do Before you Call for Air Conditioning Service and your air conditioner is still not working there are still a few more things to check, before you call in the air conditioning service pros.

1. Check for a Dirty Filter.  Dirty filters are the number one cause of under preforming/inefficient air conditioning units. A dirty filter may also shorten the lifespan of your system. During the cooling season you should change your filter every month. Checkout the video changing your Air conditioning Filters for filter advice. Always turn off your ac unit at the breaker panel or furnace switch before changing your ac filter.

2. Check for a Frozen Evaporator Coil. On some ac units you may be able to see the evaporator coil after you remove the filter. If you can look inside and see if your coil is covered in ice, if so shut the unit down allow the ice to melt and restart the air conditioner. If your evaporator keeps freezing read this. Always turn off your ac unit at the breaker panel or furnace switch before checking your evaporator coil.

The next few items are easy to check but are not easy remedy for the average home owner, but they should still be checked because they could be helpful when it’s time to call for service.

3. Short Cycling. This is when your outside compressor turns on for a short time (anywhere from a few seconds to a minute) then shuts back off and then does it again. There are many reasons for a system short cycling and all of them are probably beyond the abilities of the average home owner. Shut the unit off and call for ac service.


4. Compressor is Running but the Fan is Not. Check the outside condenser, if you can hear the compressor running but the fan is not, you may have a problem with your fan or capacitor. No matter what the problem you should never run the compressor without the fan running, so shut the unit off and call a professional HVAC contractor and let them handle this.

5. Check the Sight Glass. The outside compressor unit will have two copper tubes leading to and from it. Many units will have a little windowed device called the sight glass that lets you see the refrigerant running through the pipe. When everything’s running correctly you will not be able to see anything inside the window but if you see air bubbles passing quickly past the window your fluid level may be low. Note when the unit first starts there may be noticeable bubbles passing, let the unit run for a few minutes before checking the sight glass.

6. Check for Heavy Ice Build Up.  If the tubes running from the outside compressor into the house has a heavy ice buildup there are several possible problems, the fan or capacitors may be going, outside coil is dirty or air flow is restricted, or the refrigerant level is low. Most of these items will have to be checked out by a pro, but there are a few simple possibilities as well, check for a dirty filter or frozen coil.

If at this point your air conditioner is still not working it’s time to call for service. But you can do so with the peace of mind that you have done what you could to avoid uttering that dreaded three letter  word. DUH!



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