Oh No, My Air Conditioning Isn’t Working!

   

Before you call to have your Air Conditioning repaired, try these four simple DIY steps to see if you can solve it yourself and save a couple of bucks…

Step-1 Start at your Thermostat:

This is the brains of the operation, literally telling your AC system when to turn on and off. Make sure the system switch is set to “Cool” and the fan switch is set to “Auto”, then turn down the temperature setting at least 2-4 degrees below the room temperature. Your system should start within less than about 5-minutes maximum. If it doesn’t, flip the fan switch from “Auto” to “On” and see of the blower is delivering air from the supply registers. If it is, that means the indoor section of your air conditioning system has power to run. If it doesn’t, that’s a good indicator of a problem with the indoor unit; i.e. furnace or air handler.

Note – if you have a programmable style thermostat, it may be battery powered, so check the batteries, or better yet, replace them.

Step-2 Confirm all your emergency/service switches:

Somewhere at the furnace or air handler itself, and typically at the wall or stairs leading to the unit as well, there is an emergency switch. Often, the cover plate is red in color and noted as the “emergency service switch”, but not always. It looks similar to a light switch that you can flip up or down, and just like a light, up means “on” and down means “off”. Make sure it’s up for “on”.

Step-3 Check your breaker box:

If you have a gas or oil furnace, you are looking for a single pole breaker, either a 15 or 20 amp size. If you have an air handler or hydro air unit, you are usually looking for a double pole breaker, which is twice as wide as a single pole. Your central air will be a double pole breaker, usually 30-60 amps size. Once you identify the correct breakers, hopefully they’re marked, you can “reset” them by flipping them all the way “off”, then all the way back “on”. Looking at your panel, there are two rows of breakers, left and right. To reset a breaker on the left you will flip it all the way left, then all the way back right. To reset a breaker on the right you will flip it all the way right, the all the way back left. If any breaker feels like it’s somewhere in the “middle”, not all the way left or right, it’s probably “tripped” and could be the culprit of your AC repair problem. 

Step-4 Make sure your outdoor disconnect is on:

Outside near your air conditioner, usually somewhere on the exterior wall of your home, is a normally gray or black box with a wire coming out of the bottom of it, connecting to your unit. This is called a safety service disconnect. There are two styles; one with an exposed handle, and one with a pull out handle inside the cover. If yours has the handle exposed, make sure it is all the way in the “up” position, which is the “on” position. If you have the pull out style, open the cover and make sure the disconnect is pushed all the way in, nice and tight.

If you’ve done the four steps above, and your AC still doesn’t work, you need a professional AC repair call. To help expedite the repair process and save you money, be sure to share what you found during these four steps, as well as any other observations including if the fan on the outdoor air conditioner was running. In the meantime, turn the AC off at the thermostat by setting the system switch to "Off" to prevent complications like freeze-ups, etc that could potentially delay the repair process when the technician arrives.

 


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