5 Tips to Troubleshoot AC Issues

ac troubleshooting

When you rely on your AC to help keep your home cool and comfortable during the summer months, nothing can be as upsetting as when it stops working. Even seemingly small issues such as water leaks can be a cause for concern when you consider how important your AC is to your daily life.

While you should ideally be getting your unit serviced each year before the summer heat sets in, sometimes issues can seemingly pop up overnight. If your AC isn’t acting the way it should, try these 5 tips to help troubleshoot the issue and help get it back up and working as soon as possible.

Start with the Thermostat

Sometimes what seems like an issue with the air conditioner is actually an issue with your thermostat. This is especially true for those that have smart or programmable thermostats that automatically turn themselves on and off at preset times. If you wake up or come home and discover that your AC isn’t on, it might be because the thermostat failed, rather than the AC unit itself.

Double-check that your thermostat is on and functioning properly. Many take batteries, particularly those that are digital, so make sure those are new first to see if that fixes the issue.

Check the Circuit Breakers

If the thermostat is working as it should be, but your AC still isn’t turning on, take a trip to your circuit breaker next. Sometimes a power surge or an unexpected load can trip a circuit, which will shut off your unit. Since this is independent of your thermostat, you won’t necessarily see the issue from there.

Check and see if the breaker for your AC has tripped, and if so, try setting it to see if that fixes the problem. If your breaker continues to trip, however, it’s time to call an electrician to see what else might be going on.

Check Your Air Filter

If your AC unit is struggling to cool the house, you notice water leaking around the unit, your unit has frozen or stopped working, or if you suddenly notice higher than average energy bills, your air filter may be to blame. A dirty or clogged air filter will make your unit work harder to pull air through. This can result in higher-than-average temperatures, a frozen unit that leaks upon cooling, or a higher-than-average energy bill.

Remove your air filter and hold it up to the light. A clean air filter should allow light to pass through. If yours is opaque, change it for a clean one to see if this fixes your issue.

Check Your Outdoor Unit

Your AC is likely made up of two components, with an outdoor component. If your AC is blowing warm air, seems like it’s struggling, or your energy bills are rising, it could be dirt on the outdoor unit. Go outside and take a look at the unit. If you see a thin layer of dirt covering its entirety, you can try to gently wash this off with a hose. If you notice a thick layer of dirt, it may be time to call in a professional to have the unit cleaned. Dirt build-up can cause your AC to work harder than it should or even fail eventually, which is why cleaning it regularly is a good idea.

Check All Your Air Vents

If your AC is struggling, freezing, leaking, or shutting down, take a quick walk through your home to make sure all the air vents are open and not blocked. This means checking even the rooms where you don’t necessarily want to cool.

Your air vents can do one of two things. They can let cool air out, or they can take air back in and return it to your unit. If your returns or air vents are blocked by a curtain, pet bed, clothing, or other items it could be causing your unit to work too hard. This in turn can cause several issues that can impact your AC.

When to Call the Pros

If you’ve run down this checklist and your unit is still not working, it may be time to call in a professional. Your AC may need a repair, or it may be time to purchase a new one. Remember to start troubleshooting the second you suspect a problem, to avoid a potentially more serious issue, and enjoy beating the heat this summer.


Read Next: Stay Cool and Save Money With Our Top 5 AC Hacks

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3 thoughts on “5 Tips to Troubleshoot AC Issues

  1. I have a carrier air conditioner model 38tdb….installed in 2006 …in Aug 2018 a new compressor was installed that one failed June 2021….I live in MI so the units are only run 4-5 months a year..is there a problem with these units.

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