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.