In 2020, homes in the US used an estimated 236 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) for space cooling alone. That equates to approximately 6% of the nation’s total electricity consumption.
All that proves how integral air conditioners are for personal comfort. However, air conditioning systems can also be life-saving, especially during heatwaves. Using an energy-efficient, fully-working AC can help cut the risks of heat-related hazards.
For the same reasons, you should address AC problems promptly, especially during summer.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the benefits of calling a pro for AC repairs and when to do it yourself. Read on to discover possible DIY steps you can take before you ring up an air conditioner technician.
Warm Air From the Unit or Supply Vents
Some air conditioners utilize reverse cycle technology. This allows them to provide both cooling and heating.
If your AC has this feature, check its settings, as it might be on heat mode instead of cool mode. If it’s not or it doesn’t have this feature in the first place, the next thing to check is the AC filter.
Excessive dirt build-up on filters can impair airflow, so you might feel less cooled air and more warm air. You can try the DIY approach of replacing or washing an air conditioner filter.
When To Call a Pro
If the filthy filter has been in the unit for many months, the AC’s internal components are likely dirty, too. The warm air coming out of your air conditioner may be due to excessive residue on the evaporator coil. It’s best to call a pro as accessing these internal parts requires disassembling the unit.
The evaporator coil is a metal structure that cools the refrigerant. The refrigerant, in turn, is the chemical that absorbs heat from the air. Please note that refrigerants have toxic, flammable, and asphyxiating properties.
If the evaporator coil is dirty, it won’t be able to cool the refrigerant sufficiently. The refrigerant’s absorption efficiency can then drop, leading to a reduced cooling capacity. The same can happen if there are leaks in the refrigerant line.
With that said, call an AC repair pro if your unit still blows out warm air even after you fit it with a new filter. This way, the tech can determine if the issue has to do with the evaporator coil or a refrigerant leak. Don’t deal with refrigerants yourself, as exposure to them can cause health hazards.
Hot and cold spots often result from blocked supply vents. The conditioned air can’t pass freely, so some parts of your home can feel warmer, while others feel colder. What you can do is ensure all vents are clean and free of obstructions.
Situations That Warrant Professional Servicing
If your vents aren’t to blame, inconsistent temperatures may be a product of leaky ducts. Researchers say these common problems can waste up to 40% of heating and cooling energy. These duct woes can also introduce health and safety hazards into your home.
Sealing ducts is best left in the hands of pros, as it can be challenging to trace all leaky areas on your own. By contrast, AC professionals use devices like duct leakage testers and pressure sensors. These allow them to determine the existence and location of air leaks.
No Power at All
First, see if your manual AC thermostat is set to ON or if your digital thermostat has a working display. If your digital control remains blank no matter what you press, change the batteries. If that doesn’t work either, you either need to get it repaired or have it replaced.
If the problem isn’t with the thermostat, your circuit breaker must have tripped. Set the switch for the AC back to the ON position to send power back to your AC.
AC Still Not Turning On?
If none of those DIY approaches work, get in touch with your local AC repair company. You likely need repairs as your air conditioner motor may have stopped working. This can happen due to severe or prolonged overheating of the motor.
Some air conditioners also have a safety feature that automatically shuts them off. Problems like low refrigerant levels and overheating motors can trigger this switch. These situations warrant professional inspection and servicing.
Conditioned Air Smells Foul or Funky
Air conditioners can harbor molds, including the infection-causing Aspergillus molds. Small animals can also die inside cooling systems and air ducts. In either case, your conditioned air can start smelling stinky or even repugnant.
One of the things you can do is to clean the accessible areas of your AC. The foul smells may only be due to molds growing on AC grilles, vents, and housing elements. You can follow CDC’s guidance on removing molds from hard surfaces.
Getting your air conditioner a new filter can also help, as the molds may be growing in your old one.
When DIY Won’t Cut It
Call a pro if your AC still emits foul smells, as the molds may be growing inside the unit. The stench may also be coming from a clogged or defective condensate drain line or drain tray. Molds and decomposing animals may also be inside hard-to-reach areas of your air ducts.
AC repair technicians are your best bet, as they use protective devices to handle molds. They also use thermal imaging devices or sensors to help them track pests (dead or alive) in your ductwork.
Don’t Let AC Problems Go Unfixed
As you can see, some AC problems, such as dirty filters, vents, and grilles, are easily fixable with DIY methods. If replacing and cleaning these components don’t fix the issue, that’s when you should call a pro. The most important thing is never to delay repairs, as the problems will only worsen over time.
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