What Types of AC Repair Can I Do Myself?

What Types of AC Repair Can I Do Myself?

Customers sometimes ask what types of AC repair they can do themselves. At Tri County Air, we generally discourage DIY air conditioning repair. It can risk causing more damage or injuring yourself. Not hiring an AC professional can also void the warranty and violate building codes. However, there are simple solutions to some problems; you can also troubleshoot an issue before calling an air conditioning repair technician.

While these tasks generally don’t fall under the category of AC repair, they can be safe and effective if your air conditioner isn’t working like it should:

Change The AC Filter

You don’t need a technician to check and change the air filter. However, a dirty filter can have a big impact on how the system works. It can reduce the amount of air going into the unit and limit how much air blows into rooms. Uneven cooling and preventable repairs are also possible.

Most air filters are located in the air handler near the evaporator coil. A clogged filter can usually be changed by sliding it out of its housing; then you can insert the new one. Install a new filter whenever the AC isn’t working as effectively. In general, we recommend changing it every one to three months.

Check the Thermostat Settings

If your home isn’t at the right temperature or is being heated instead of cooled, your AC may not need repair at all. The thermostat may be set incorrectly. Check the setting and change the temperature or fan speed if necessary, or switch it from heating to cooling mode. If the AC kicks in at the right temperature, there’s nothing else to do.

However, if the thermostat isn’t responding or doesn’t light up, change the battery (if it’s battery-operated) or call a professional to check the wiring and connections.

Check the Circuit Breaker

When an AC shuts off or won’t turn on, your first thought may be to call an HVAC contractor. But the problem may not be with the air conditioner. First, go to the main electrical panel and check the circuit breaker for the AC unit. A tripped breaker will be in the middle position. If this happens, there may be an overload, especially if other appliances or lights are plugged into the same circuit as the air conditioner. 

To address the issue, flip the breaker switch to the “Off” position. Then, wait a few seconds and flip it to the “On” position; it should stay in place. If not, the circuit is still overloaded or there could be a wiring problem that only a professional can resolve. However, if the AC now works as usual, there’s nothing else to do.

Clean the Outdoor Condenser Unit

A buildup of dust, dirt, leaves, twigs, or even shrubbery around the unit can affect how efficiently it releases heat outside. The system then can’t remove enough heat from your home. The same issue can also affect heating performance.

Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix. Use a broom, brush, or your hands to remove debris, leaves, or branches from the condenser. Also, make sure there’s no debris, obstructions, or clutter within two feet of it on each side. To clean the fan blades and condenser fins, you’ll have to open the unit; these parts can be cleaned using a garden hose on low pressure or with a soft-bristle brush.

Melt Any Ice That Forms

If the AC unit or coil ices up, turn the system off with just the fan running. The ice should melt rather quickly. You can also shut off the system altogether and let the ice melt on its own. However, if this is a recurring problem, call an AC repair professional to check for a refrigerant leak or other problem.

Open Room Vents

Closing vents in unused rooms won’t save energy. Instead, it can increase air pressure in the system, which can cause serious damage. The system may also short cycle; this forces it to use more energy. If you feel your AC could work better, check all room vents and open any that are closed. Also, move any objects or furniture blocking them.

Check the Ducts

By opening the registers, you can peek into your ductwork to see if it’s dirty. Ducts can be cleaned by wiping around the edges or using a vacuum hose. If your ductwork seems excessively dirty, schedule a professional duct cleaning. Be sure to check everywhere, including the attic, where a register may have been accidentally closed, or airflow may be blocked for some other reason. Call an HVAC company if ductwork or any of its components appear damaged.

Call Tri County Air

If these steps don’t get your AC unit to work, Tri County Air can help. Simple solutions often don’t require a professional. However, if you can’t resolve the issue and suspect something is wrong with your air conditioner, a specialist can address problems such as a broken fan motor, refrigerant leak, or faulty thermostat. Our licensed technicians can perform any type of AC repair. To request assistance in Charlotte, Manatee, or Sarasota Counties, call (941) 841-8573 today.

10 Important DIY AC Maintenance Tips

10 Important DIY AC Maintenance Tips

There are many types of DIY AC maintenance. The following tips will keep your AC running at peak performance and are generally quite simple. We strongly recommend performing these tasks between professional air conditioning maintenance visits, as they can prevent repairs, increase efficiency, and help your air conditioner last longer.

1. Check/Clean/Replace the Air Filter

Check the filter at least once a month. Clean or change it if it’s clogged. An AC filter should be replaced every one to three months depending on the type, how frequently the system is used, and if your home is dusty or you have pets. Clean filters can improve system efficiency and indoor air quality.

Changing the filter requires sliding it out of its fitting and inserting a new one in its place. Reusable filters can be wiped with a cloth, vacuumed, or washed in water. Allow the filter to air dry before reinstalling it.

2. Make Sure Vents and Registers Are Dust-Free

Dust and dirt on vents and registers can be blown into rooms, sucked back into the system, and recirculated. To clean each vent or register, brush it from top to bottom and from left to right. You can also use a vacuum cleaner. If specific vents or areas tend to become dirty, check and clean them more often.

3. Adjust the Thermostat to Accommodate Your Needs

Thermostat adjustments aren’t often considered a form of AC maintenance. But setting the temperature higher when you’re not home reduces the load on your HVAC system. It also lowers your utility bill and can increase the unit’s lifespan. Some thermostats can even be preprogrammed based on your schedule, while smart thermostats can allow you to control them remotely or sense when you’re home or not.

4. Check for Duct Blockages or Air Leaks

Blockages in ductwork or leaky ducts can reduce the performance and efficiency of your AC system. They can also cause poor indoor air quality. Open vent covers and peek into ducts with a flashlight to find issues in areas near vents. If you can’t brush or vacuum out dirt or blockages, call for help. Also, inspect visible sections of ductwork to spot any damage. The sooner you have the issue fixed, the less impact it will have on the system.

5. Clean the Evaporator Coil

Remove the outer cover of the air handler to access the evaporator coil. Use a soft brush to remove any dust, dirt, or mineral deposits. Next, spray it with a no-rinse coil cleaner. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a wand or hose attachment.

6. Clean the Drain Pipe

Check the drainage line for any blockages. If it’s clogged, you can use a vacuum cleaner to try and clear out the line. Or, attach a wet/dry vacuum to the end of the evaporator drain and seal it with a rag or duct tape. Remove the vacuum cleaner’s filter and let it run for two or three minutes. Also, check the drain pan; if it’s dirty, you can clean it with soap and warm water.

7. Shade the Outdoor Compressor

AC maintenance can start before you even use the system. Place the outdoor compressor on a shaded side of your house or under an awning. In the summer, direct sunlight can cause the compressor to heat up, increasing its load and potentially causing it to break down. It can also cause the refrigerant to evaporate more quickly, which can strain the unit.

8. Clean the Outdoor Unit

Outdoor AC units can get dirty pretty quickly. After turning off the power, open the fan cage with a screwdriver or wrench. Then remove the grill and check for debris inside the unit. You can remove dust and leaves by hand or with a vacuum cleaner. Use a hose to wash any areas you can’t reach. Then clean the area surrounding the unit and check it is level.

9. Clean/Straighten the Fins

The fins cover most of the outside unit. They’re easy to access once the fan cage is open. Clean exposed fins with a garden hose at low pressure. If any are bent, straighten them with a fin straightening tool or a dull household knife.

10. Run Ceiling Fans or Portable Fans

If you have ceiling or portable fans, run them from time to time. They help to reduce the apparent room temperature by increasing air circulation. You can turn back the thermostat a few degrees with no change in comfort. Limiting the demand on your HVAC system will help it run more smoothly.

Schedule AC Maintenance with Tri County Air

We provide professional air conditioning maintenance in Charlotte, Manatee, and Sarasota Counties. It includes a complete system inspection, in-depth diagnostics, a thorough and careful cleaning, and prompt repairs by our certified HVAC technicians. To schedule your next AC maintenance visit, request an appointment online or call (941) 485-2222 today.