What to do before you call for Air Conditioning Service.
Air conditioner on the fritz? Don’t panic, and don’t blindly run to the phone and call the first name in the phone book. There still are phone book aren’t there? This list is here to help even the least mechanically inclined homeowner, Check their air conditioning unit before calling for service.
Since this is the first troubleshooting checklist I’ll start with the simplest things to checkout. Some might call this the DUH List, because that’s the sound you’ll make if one of these items is the cause of your problem. But remember its far better to utter that little word in an empty room than say it while standing in front of very expensive air conditioning contractor.
1. Check That the Unit is Plugged In. If it is a window unit. (I told you this was the DUH List.) This should be the first thing you check, if it is plugged in check that the outlet is working by plugging something else into the outlet. If there is no power at the outlet check if it is a ground fault outlet or GFO. These will have two buttons on the front of them. One is the reset button, if it is sticking out that means it has been tripped and is most likely the cause of your problem. To reset your outlet just press the reset button back in until it clicks. If your AC unit plugs into a regular outlet it still may be protected by a GFO, many electricians will run a whole room full of outlets off of one GFO. They do this by simply placing a GFO in one location and wiring the rest of the outlets off of that one. Check the other outlets in the room for a GFO.
You can test your outlet by pressing the test button; this will trigger the ground fault interrupter and the reset button will pop out. Important: GFO trip from time to time on their own, but if your outlet feels warm or continues to trip contact a certified electrician and have them check the circuit.
2. Check The Breaker. This applies to wall air conditioners and all others. Your breaker panel is the grey metal door, usually located in the wall of a garage, basement or utility closet. When you look inside you will see a lot of black switches. They will have an on and an off position. If you’re lucky your breaker panel will be nicely labeled so you can easily find the switch for the air conditioner. If not you’ll have to look for the breaker that is tripped. To do this look for a breaker that has moved from the on position towards the off position. This may be hard to see, and sometimes I have to gently wiggle each switch trying to find a loose one. If a breaker has been tripped switch it back to the on position and see if the power is restored. If your breaker trips again this may indicate an electrical problem that should be checked out by a professional AC Contractor or electrician.
3. Check The Furnace Switch. Every furnace has an electrical switch to turn it on and off. These are usually located right next to the furnace but maybe located at the top of a set of stairs if the air conditioner is located in a basement. If this switch is accidently throw to off the furnace or Air conditioner will not work. This can happen if children are in the house or if any service was performed on the unit, such as changing the filter.
4. Check The Thermostat. Make sure the thermostat is set to cool. If not set it to cool then wait a few minutes to see if the air unit turns on. If not check the batteries, even if the front led screen is still working the batteries may not have enough juice to switch the unit on.
Make sure all doors on the Unit are fully closed. Many central air conditioning units have a pressure switch in them to shut the unit off in the door to the air handling unit is opened. This is to protect you from the blower and fan belt when you open the door to change the air filter.
5. Check the outside condenser for proper air flow. In order for your ac system to work properly it must take warm air from inside your house and bring it outside. To do this the outside unit or condenser uses a fan to dissipate the heat. Make sure that the outside unit is free of plants and other debris that could decrease air flow. Note the Ac unit may still work but be less efficient and not cool as well.
That’s the first step in troubleshooting your air conditioners problem. If your system still is not working move on to step two Troubleshooting your Air Conditioner Problems.