AC Troubleshooting Tips You Should Try Before Calling an HVAC Expert

Technician discussing a repair with a client - Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing

It’s every Cincinnati homeowner’s nightmare in the summertime – an air conditioner that is unable to do its job. Whether it doesn’t turn on or is unable to properly cool your living areas, a bum cooling system sometimes just needs a bit of air conditioner troubleshooting to get it going again.

Thomas & Galbraith is the first call many of you make when you experience air conditioner problems, but we have another bit of advice to help you first. Sometimes, simple problems stand in the way of adequate cooling – and for those, you don’t always need our help. These air conditioner troubleshooting tips are often the key you need to cut discomfort and avoid service call fees.

Yes, there are a variety of air conditioning issues that require professional air conditioner repair. Air conditioner troubleshooting helps you tackle the simpler issues – as simple as they may be, they can still do a lot of damage to the indoor climate. Fix them faster than we are able to get there with the right air conditioner troubleshooting advice.

If your Cincinnati air conditioner doesn’t turn on or it feels like it isn’t keeping up with your cooling demands, we recommend you try the air conditioner troubleshooting steps below prior to contacting us. If for any reason you are not comfortable performing these steps, or air conditioner troubleshooting has not restored cooling, contact us for professional air conditioning repair by our NATE-certified technicians at any time.

Save with Air Conditioner Troubleshooting

For many homeowners in the Cincinnati area, air conditioners seem like complex and intimidating systems. While yes, they certainly can be, sometimes the fix they need is much simpler than you may imagine. Air conditioner troubleshooting looks at issues that affect the cooling system, but aren’t complex components.

Air conditioner troubleshooting has the potential to solve your system issues faster than we are able to reach your home for AC repairs. These simple fixes are able to be performed by homeowners – save your money on a service call and try these first before you call!

Plus, a wait for a service call in the summer leaves temperatures rising inside your home. We don’t want our customers to feel discomfort – air conditioner troubleshooting is sometimes the solution needed for a quick restoration of comfort!

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting for Thermostats

Any time your Cincinnati cooling system acts up, the first stop for air conditioner troubleshooting needs to be your thermostat. The thermostat is your air conditioner’s communication system – it tells the equipment when to turn on and turn off to achieve the temperatures you want.

Incorrect thermostat settings lead to an air conditioner that doesn’t turn on or doesn’t keep your home properly cooled in some cases. Go on over to your thermostat and check the following settings for air conditioner troubleshooting:

  • If your air conditioner doesn’t turn on, are you sure the thermostat’s cooling mode is selected? When heating mode is selected, the air conditioning system does not initiate. Depending on your temperature settings, the heating system could be running – no wonder your home doesn’t feel cool!
  • The temperature setpoint on your thermostat matters – if the setpoint is higher than the current room temperature, the thermostat doesn’t trigger a cooling cycle. If your air conditioner doesn’t turn on, this is a possible issue. Set the thermostat’s temperature a few degrees lower than the current room temperature – if your air conditioner is operational, this triggers a cooling cycle.
  • To build off the air conditioner troubleshooting advice regarding thermostat setpoints, make sure your programmable thermostat is set with the right temperature schedules. If a saved schedule for heating in the winter or old schedules that were used when your home was unoccupied, your air conditioner probably doesn’t turn on when you expect. Adjustment of thermostat schedules should be done each season or whenever there is a change in your household’s needs.
  • Many thermostats have an extra useful feature known as ‘hold’ or even ‘vacation mode.’ These features allow you to pause the regularly set temperature schedules when you are away from home or simply desire temporary differences. Hold mode can prevent your air conditioner cycles if the set temperatures don’t line up with your current needs. Make sure these features are not in use for air conditioner troubleshooting.

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting for Power

Air conditioning systems run with the use of electricity. Thermostats are either battery-powered or hardwired to run off your home’s electric supply. Air conditioner troubleshooting targets power supply issues that prevent your air conditioner from cooling your home.

Check these power source issues when you perform air conditioner troubleshooting:

  • Make sure your battery-powered thermostat has good batteries. When the batteries die, you are left suddenly without cooling because your thermostat is no longer able to communicate with the air conditioner. To avoid this problem, make it part of your spring and fall HVAC system maintenance routine to replace batteries with fresh ones.
  • If your thermostat is hardwired, a breaker or fuse issue has the ability to cut power and leave your cooling system without controls. Check your home’s main electric panel to see if the breaker or fuse that powers the thermostat is tripped or blown. Correct if you find this issue.
  • Same as hardwired thermostats, a tripped breaker or blown fuse to the air conditioner’s electric system circuit cuts all power to the cooling equipment and it is unable to run. Check your electric panel and correct issues that are found.
  • Air conditioning components have power switches, much like other home appliances. If these power switches are knocked out of the correct position, the component does not run. Your indoor air handler or furnace as well as the outdoor condenser unit likely have external power switches, so give them a check. Inside, the power switch is probably on the exterior of the equipment or mounted on a nearby wall. Outside equipment either has a switch on the unit’s exterior or it is mounted on the wall near where the refrigerant lines enter the home.
  • Some HVAC equipment is equipped with safeties that prevent a unit from cycling if component access doors are ajar. Look at the indoor air handler or furnace and make sure the door to the blower motor compartment is secured and that there are no other loose panels on your equipment.

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting for Airflow

Air conditioning systems need good air movement through the equipment and ducts to properly function. Sometimes, dirty or blocked components restrict airflow through the system so much that your air conditioner is unable to properly function. Lack of airflow has the potential to overheat components, which causes your system to shutdown as a safety precaution – the system needs time to reset, so if your air conditioner was running one minute and now it does not come on, airflow problems are a potential cause.

When air conditioner troubleshooting, check the following to clear airflow restrictions in your cooling system:

  • A dirty furnace filter is a common airflow obstruction that plagues air conditioners. During the summer when your system runs often, check it once a month – change it when the filter’s surface becomes gray and full of contaminants.
  • If a furnace filter isn’t inserted into the system correctly, it has the ability to block air movement. Filters have directional arrows printed on their frames which indicate the direction they need to be inserted, according to the direction of airflow through your system.
  • If your furnace filter is the wrong size, it doesn’t fit properly within the filter cabinet – the filter has the potential to fall through and block air movement in the surrounding system components or ductwork. Furnace filters are sold in many sizes, so be sure to note your filter size before you purchase a replacement – check your HVAC system’s owner’s manual or ask your air conditioning technician for assistance.
  • The outdoor condenser unit’s exterior is covered in the system’s fins, which allow hot air to release into the atmosphere for cooling. Grass clippings, leaves, and other outdoor debris may block the fins, preventing your air conditioner from cooling your home as well as it needs. To clear the fins, turn off the system’s power. Use a garden hose and gently rinse away the debris – you may use a soft bristled brush if you need some extra help.
  • Vents throughout the home are often accidentally closed or covered. This blocks airflow circulation through the system into your living areas, which makes it feel like your air conditioner isn’t cooling enough. If too many vents are blocked, pressure builds in the ducts and affects your cooling equipment, leading to damage. Make sure all vent louvers are opened and that there are no carpets, rugs, furniture, or other items that block vents, registers, and return air grilles throughout your home.

When Air Conditioner Troubleshooting Isn’t Enough, Call Us

If you find these air conditioner troubleshooting steps have not restored proper cooling to your Cincinnati area home, call Thomas & Galbraith. We send out one of our NATE-certified air conditioner repair technicians to thoroughly inspect, diagnose, and repair your system. We are available any time of the day or night, no matter what day it is to solve your summertime air conditioner problems.

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