The long walk across the parking lot reminded you of how hard you worked today. Since the daytime temperature has stayed high the car seemed to take a long time to cool down. The order of the evening is coming home to a comfortable home, a quiet meal, and watching the home team bring home a win on TV. Those plans went out the window when you stepped in the door to a warm house!
Before panic grips you, take a few breaths and take stock of the information you know about your air conditioning system. If the air conditioner is not producing cool air at a comfortable level, one or more component parts is not functioning properly. Prior to making a call to your AC service company, take a little time to check for some common problems with a simple DIY fix. If you are not qualified to fix it, you will help your technician solve the issue a little quicker.
Residential AC Repair Tip 1: Check the Thermostat
The thermostat is the switch that turns the AC on when the temperature rises above the setting and turns it off when the air reaches the comfort level selected. For a number of reasons, the thermostat may be the issue. Most thermostats have a screen interface; if the screen is blank, the fix might be new batteries. Make sure the thermostat is on and is set to cool; for a number of reasons the setting might have been changed. Next, make sure no one bumped the temperature up too high. The fan setting should read AUTO.
Residential AC Repair Tip 2: Check the Air Filter
The air filter collects dust, pollen, and other airborne contaminants with every cooling and heating cycle and while it improves indoor air quality, the accumulation of particles will eventually clog the filter. A clogged filter will reduce the airflow and interfere with cooling. Air filters should be changed regularly, about every three months. If the air does not freely move through the evaporator chamber, the cooling components cannot lower the air temperature as designed.
If your air filter is clogged, replace it with a new filter. Wait a few minutes to see whether the new filter solved your problem.
Residential AC Repair Tip 3: Check your Vents
The air conditioner depends upon ventilation—the rapid movement of air in large quantities. The air enters every room in your house through supply vents and returns to the central air conditioning system via return air vents. Check the vents to make sure
If vents have been blocked, reopening them may solve your problem. Wait a few minutes and check the thermostat setting.
Residential AC Repair Tip 4: Check your Ductwork
All of this air movement happens because of a network of ducts that connect the central heat/air cabinet with the rest of your home. The ducts move under, over, and through your home and most of the ducts are covered and inaccessible. However, ducts in the attic, crawlspace, or basement might have been disturbed by recent work or movement. If no one has accessed these areas, check anyway; a critter, looking for relief from the heat, might have disturbed your network.
Residential AC Repair Tip 5: Check your Condenser
The outdoor component of your air conditioner is called the condenser unit. The purpose of the condenser unit is to cool the refrigerant gas. Again, the key to the successful cooling of refrigerant gas is the movement of large quantities of air through the tubes and fins that make up the walls of the unit. If dirt and debris collect around the unit or lodge between the tubes, the refrigerant gas can overheat. Try gently cleaning the network of tubes with a garden hose.
If none of these fixes make a difference, it is time to call your AC service team. Make sure that you tell the technician about your observations; do not be surprised if the technician re-checks your finding.