DIY Air Conditioning Fixes

Man measuring DIYThe summer weather continues. With it comes those all too familiar high temperatures. The sun is shining and the heat is fuming. Our brief relief in the form of a mini rainy season seems to be over and fall seems like a lifetime away. What home appliance do we rely on most during these times? Our air conditioners. With all this in mind, it’s no surprise that people become reasonably upset when their air conditioners fail. It’s not the kind of problem that one can ignore or put off for a while. When you need AC repair in Austin, you want it as soon as possible. That’s ASAP.

But air conditioning repair in Austin doesn’t have to be a headache. And often, you don’t have to wait for a certified technician to arrive either. If you’re handy with a few basic tools and you want to try tackling the problem yourself before calling a professional, there are a few things you can do to try and get the AC back in working condition yourself. Now, of course, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with your air conditioner that will require the work of a professional with the tools and technical expertise that only a certified air conditioner technician has. In such cases, you won’t have to wait long either. AC Express offers same-day AC repair so your wait time is very limited when you do business with us. One phone call and you’ll have your AC back in working order that same day. But, for those of you who live by the do-it-yourself mantra, try some of these checklists and guides first.

If the AC Doesn’t Turn On

The first step is to rule out whether or not the problem is with the furnace. Even if you’re not heating up the house, a problem with the furnace can cause a problem with the whole system. So, turn your thermostat to AC mode and lower the temperature setting. If the furnace fan turns on then you’re in the clear with the furnace. If the furnace fan doesn’t turn on, then the problem probably lies with the furnace. Turn off and on the furnace circuit breaker and if that doesn’t solve the problem you’ll need to call a professional.

Then makes sure the air conditioner breaker hasn’t been tripped or accidently shut off. You might need to also check the outdoor breaker near the outdoor AC unit. It should be in a metal box on the wall near the unit. Sometimes bugs can build nests in these that can tamper with the breaker.

Before going in further, it’s important you stay safe. That means that you should purposefully switch off the air conditioning and furnace breakers before going further. Then you’ll want to check and clean the coils. The easiest way to do this is by using a garden hose. Take the hose to the outdoor unit and aim it upwards so that the stream of water hits the inside rim of the unit where the condenser coils are. This will clean the coils of any dirt and dust buildup that might have been causing the air conditioner to stop working.

Turn the breakers back on to see if that worked, and if not, turn them back off if you need to move on to the next step. The next thing to do is check the compressor’s circuit. The capacitor in the compressor starts the condenser and the fan. If it has failed, the air conditioner won’t turn on. It’s very easy to test whether it works with a few simple tools handy. Remove the cover and use a digital multi-meter set to capacitance. Put one lead on the common terminal in the thermostat and the other lead on one of the other two terminals. The meter should show a number. The letters OL indicate a shortage. Air conditioning capacitors can be like two capacitors in one, with both sharing the common leg.

If the Air Isn’t Cool or Blowing

If air is blowing from your air conditioning system but it’s not cool air, there are a couple things that could be wrong. The very first thing to check is the simplest, the thermostat. Make sure the thermostat isn’t in fan-only mode and that it is in AC mode.

Now, if your compressor is frozen, this could cause a lack of cold air. You’ll need to first thaw it, and then call a professional to fix whatever problem caused the freezing in the first place. The thawing will cause you some temporary relief, however. You can do this by turning your air conditioner into fan-only mode on the thermostat and letting it run for several hours. The fan should thaw out the compressor and then you can use the air conditioner normally until the technician arrives.

If there isn’t a problem with a frozen compressor then dirty air filters might be your culprit. Your AC will still run if the air filters are too old but air won’t circulate well, meaning it might not get cool enough. So, remove the grates covering your air ducts and check to see if the air filters are past due for replacement.

You’ll also want to check the condensate drain pan. If your air conditioner has a drain tray or pan and it has excessive water it may switch of the air conditioner. Some drain pans have a switch that turns the air conditioner off so that there is no leakage. Emptying the pan will cure the symptoms but not the problem that caused the excess water in the first place.

Next, go outside and check the outdoor unit. If the AC is on but no cool air is coming out, look to see if the fans are spinning in the outdoor unit. If not, look for a reset switch and try pressing that. Then try using a long screwdriver to manually spin the fans clockwise. If they don’t move at all there might be an obstruction causing the problem. If they spin freely and the boost is enough to get them going then there’s something wrong with a capacitor.

Like in the previous step, a dirty compressor can cause the air conditioner to run but not get cold. Clean the compressor so that this possibility is ruled out. It also wouldn’t hurt to try cleaning the evaporator coil. This coil resides in the indoor unit. Find the evaporator coil door and open it. Once it’s open, use a soft brush to dust off the coil, and then spray the coil with commercially available no-rinse coil cleaner. The spray will foam up and drip into the drain pan. Clean out the drain pan with soap, hot water, and a little bleach. Then, pour a cup of half bleach and half water down the drain. To keep the drain clear in the future, place a drain pan tablet in the pan. This will stop future algae growth.

Diagnosing AC Leaks or Noises

One of the main jobs of an air conditioner is not to just blow and cool air but to remove humidity from the household air. In fact, this was the original reason why air conditioners were invented, to deal with humidity. In particularly humid climates, your air conditioner might deal with several gallons of water daily. That’s a lot of water. And to deal with that water, the air conditioner has a drain tube in the indoor unit that leads directly outdoors. This is going to be the source of any leakage you might experience with your air conditioner.

If your air conditioner uses a condensate pump to remove water from the indoor unit, check to make sure it’s plugged in and on. Then look to see if the tubing that carries away the water has come loose from the pump. If it has, reconnect it. It’s also possible that the tube or the pump has become clogged with something such as algae. If so, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck all of the water out of the tube. In some cases, it might be easier to replace it with new tubing which can be found online or at an HVAC supply shop, or at a well-stocked home improvement center.

If your air conditioner is making strange noises, that might help you identify the problem. The three noises you should listen for are a squealing sound, a grinding sound, and a buzzing. Air conditioners are never going to silent when they’re on. There should be a low humming noise but strange noise is indicative of a problem.

Most ACs nowadays run with a direct drive motor but if your air conditioner is old it might have a belt-driven motor. If this motor is making a squealing sound, the belt might need to be replaced or it might have slipped out of place.

If your air conditioner runs with a direct drive motor and it’s making a squealing or grinding sound that means the motor’s bearings are probably shot. In this case, you’ll need to call a professional Austin air conditioning service.

Buzzing sounds could come from either the indoor air handler or the outdoor unit. If it’s coming from the indoor air handler, even when you have the thermostat in fan-only mode, it is probably a bad relay fan or a bad blower fan. Buzzing from the outdoor unit when it’s trying to start is probably indicative of a bad run capacitor.

Austin AC Repair with AC Express

Air conditioning in Austin is something we take for granted all the way up until something goes wrong. Hopefully, with the help of this tip, you know a little more about how to diagnose and possibly fix just a few of the more common problems that can plague an air conditioner. This way, before you call an experienced professional like those at AC Express, you can try to fix the issue with a DIY method.

Austin air conditioning is the pride and the passion of AC Express. We know that there are many cases where simple and cheap fixes won’t do the job and more precise and technical repairs are needed. In such cases, you can rely on AC Express to get to you quickly and perform the job expertly for a fair price. If you need air conditioning repair in Austin or the areas surrounding such as Leander, Lakeway, Round Rock and Taylor, call AC Express today!