“I turned on my air conditioner today and I thought at first it was working fine. Then I realized it was pretty hot in here, so I held up my hand to the vent and found the air conditioner blowing warm air. Why is my air conditioner not cooling? Can I fix this on my own?”
This is one of the most common complaints we hear. There are several reasons for an air conditioner not cooling well. And yes, some of them you can easily fix on your own. For others, you might need to call in a professional.
Here’s what you can do to start:
• Check the fan setting on your thermostat. This is often the culprit if your air conditioner blows warm air sometimes and cool air other times. The “on” setting might seem like the one you want, but if you have your thermostat set to “on,” it will blow air even when the AC unit outside isn’t cooling it down. The setting you want to pick is “auto.”
• If that doesn’t work, check if your air filter needs changing. It’s going to happen eventually—your filter will get so dirty that it will block the airflow. Sometimes changing out the filter is all you need to do to solve your air conditioner cooling problem.
• Your next step is to check your outside unit. Once again, if you find it dirty or blocked by shrubberies or overgrown trees, clean it off and unblock it and see if that works. See if the coils are dirty, and check if airflow to the compressor is restricted.
• Have a look at your circuit breaker. If your outside unit is on a different circuit than the indoor unit, you could be getting electricity to the indoor unit but not the outdoor unit. There are a lot of reasons this could happen. If it was the result of a local outage, you can probably just reset the breaker and get your AC working again. If the air conditioner itself overloaded the circuit, you need to call in an air conditioning contractor right away.
Some air conditioner problems do require professional assistance. If none of the steps above solve your problem, and you still find your air conditioner not cooling, check the following:
• Is your outside fan broken or malfunctioning? This is a problem that requires air conditioner repair from a professional.
• Are your refrigerant levels low? This could indicate a leak, which you will also need a pro to locate and repair.
• Another common cause of this problem is a faulty compressor. If you have a defective compressor, you will need to get it replaced.
• You may also have a bad capacitor. AC units have dual capacitors which control both the fan and compressor. One or both of these components can go-out at any time when you have a bad capacitor.
With any luck, you’ll be able to track down the cause of your AC blowing warm air and fix it on your own. If however you have a faulty compressor, bad capacitor, refrigerant leak, or broken fan, you’ll need to call in your local HVAC repair company. Either way, you now have the knowledge needed to troubleshoot the problem!