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If Your AC Stops Working, Try These 3 DIY Fixes

June 18, 2018

AC maintenance summer tips

The LAST thing any homeowner wants is to be stuck without a working air conditioner—especially in the middle of summer.

Unfortunately, ACs can and do break down. Fortunately, you can try a few DIY fixes before you call a professional to come to the rescue.

When your AC breaks down, remember try these 3 tips:

  1. Check the thermostat
  2. Look at the circuit breaker
  3. Check your air filter

Let’s go into more detail about each of these 3 DIY tips...

Note: If you hear strange noises, smell chemical/burning odor or ever notice excessive water pooling around your AC, call a professional immediately. Those are all signs of a more serious AC problem that only a pro should handle.

DIY Tip #1: Check the thermostat

Your thermostat controls your entire AC system, so if it’s not working properly then your AC system won’t function.

What to do: Go to your thermostat and check these points:

  • If you have a digital model, make sure you can see the screen. If it looks dim or unreadable then try replacing the batteries.
  • Verify that the thermostat is set to COOL, not OFF or HEAT.
  • Check the desired temperature to make sure it’s set at least 5° F below the room temperature.

Related reading: “Do Home Thermostats Go Bad?

If everything looks good at the thermostat, go to Step 3…

DIY Tip #2: Look at the AC circuit breaker

If you’re having AC troubles, the second thing to check is the circuit breaker for your AC because it controls the power your AC system receives.  

You see, older air conditioners sometimes pull in a large amount of electrical current when they start up, which can cause the circuit breaker to trip. If the circuit breaker to your AC trips, your AC won’t turn on at all.

Circuit breakers in an electrical panel

Circuit breakers in an electrical panel

What to do: Go to your electrical panel and check the circuit breaker for your AC (it should be labeled as such). If the circuit breaker is “tripped” flip it back to the “ON” position.

Note: If the circuit breaker continues to trip, DON’T keep resetting the circuit breaker. Call a professional to fix the problem.

Circuit breaker not the issue? Take a look at your thermostat...

DIY Tip #3: Check your air filter

Though it may sound overly simple, your air filter could actually be causing your AC issue.

You see, your air filter is supposed to catch dirt and debris before it reaches your AC system. But if the filter gets clogged with too much dirt and debris it actually blocks air from entering your system—which causes expensive problems.

Problems caused by a clogged filter include:

  • Higher energy bills: Your AC has to work harder to bring in air to cool, which makes it consume more energy.
  • Frozen AC: A clogged filter decreases the amount of warm air that reaches your refrigerant coils. That’s a problem because refrigerant (the liquid/gas that cools your home’s warm air) needs contact with warm air, otherwise it can cause your system to freeze over.
  • Worse air quality indoors: Since the filter is clogged, it can’t catch any new air pollutants which means they just circulate indoors.
dirty vs clean AC filter

Clean filter vs dirty air filter

What to do: Check your air filter. If it looks dirty like the one on the right, it’s time to change it.

Need help choosing a replacement air filter? Read our article, “What’s the Best HVAC Filter for My Home? A Florida Tech Answers.”

Want to prevent an AC breakdown altogether? Get an annual tune-up

Getting an annual tune-up by an AC pro significantly reduces the chances that your AC will break down.

Here’s why: During an annual maintenance visit, a professional cleans your AC and checks for red flags that could lead to break downs. If your AC does have problems, the tech will offer suggestions on how to fix them so you don’t get stuck with a busted AC.

Plus, regular AC tune-ups also gives you benefits like...

Read our article, “Air Conditioner Maintenance: 5 Tips to Find a Good Contractor” before you hire a pro to tune up your AC.

Haven’t had an AC tune-up this year?

Schedule an appointment.

Or learn more about our CoolClub maintenance plan package.


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