September 21, 2023

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Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioning Unit

3 min read

If you are having trouble with your central air conditioner, there are steps you can take to see if the problem is easily fixable or if you’ll need to perform more complex service and maintenance or enlist the help of a qualified HVAC service technician. If you change your air filters regularly and have ruled out air flow blockage as a problem, follow these simple steps to troubleshoot your air conditioning system.

The very first thing you should do when checking your air conditioning unit is locate the breaker that powers the system. Turn it to the OFF position, and then reset it back to the ON position. Resetting the breaker in itself can remedy AC unit malfunctions, because often times the breaker can throw itself into OFF without it being noticed on the electrical panel. Resetting the breaker yourself is the easiest and most important method for beginning to troubleshoot an air conditioning unit, and you will not need to spend money on having an HVAC contractor come over to your home. However, if the breaker immediately resets itself back to the OFF position or pops and sparks when it does, that is an indication of a more severe problem that will need to be inspected by a licensed HVAC professional.

After the breaker is reset properly, make sure the thermostat is set to AC and the fan in programmed to AUTO. See if the air conditioner begins to work. If it does not, you can move on to some other troubleshooting methods.

You may have a service disconnect switch located within 5 feet of your outdoor air conditioning unit. Open up the switch panel and look for a breaker reset at that location. Reset the switch and see if it turns on. Some outdoor units have red reset buttons on the exterior casing of the unit itself. If your unit has a red reset button, press it to see if that fixes the problem. You also may have fuses inside the panel. If they are burned out, you can purchase replacements at any hardware store. If resetting the service disconnect switch or changing the fuses doesn’t remedy the problem, close the switch panel and move on to another troubleshooting step.

If the resets don’t correct the issue, you’ll need to make sure the AC unit is receiving power. Check the wires to make sure they are in good working condition and no animals or insects have chewed through the casing. The low voltage circuit is powered by a transformer that is either located in the unit or inside at the central system. It is recommended that you contact an HVAC service technician to work on electrical issues to ensure your safety and to have the job done properly.

A professional HVAC service technician will be able to test the coolant and the electrical circuitry of the air conditioning unit and repair any issues that may be present. Trying to fix the problem yourself, especially if you don’t have a thorough knowledge of air conditioning units, can cause more damage and end up costing you more money.

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