Why do things tend to break at the worst possible time? For example, you may be getting ready to enjoy a summer holiday weekend only to notice that the air in your home is becoming uncomfortable. You call your HVAC company to learn about air conditioning repair options, but the HVAC service contractors have no openings until the next day or 24 hour support is not available. What can you do?
Here are a few steps you can take to fix your HVAC system and help avoid a service visit:
- First, check your HVAC filter and make sure it is not clogged. A clogged filter can choke your entire HVAC system.
- Next, check to make sure the breakers have not tripped. Typically there are two breakers: one for the outside portion of your HVAC system and one for the inside portion. If a breaker has tripped, please be aware that it tripped for a reason and perhaps the system should be serviced by an HVAC company to make sure no damage will be caused by turning it on.
- If the breakers are OK, check your thermostat and make sure it is set to the cooling or heating mode. Some thermostats require a 5-minute wait period, so give it a few minutes after you turn it on.
- Then, check the drain pan located under the indoor unit. The drain pan should have water overflow protection switches that will shut the system down if the drain line is clogged. Some systems have a switch in the pan and a switch in the drain line – check both to see if they were triggered. If you find water in the pan, remove it but you should schedule an appointment with your HVAC company so they can clear the clog.
- Lastly, turn your thermostat off. Turn the breakers off. Let the system sit for 60 seconds. Turn everything back on. Wait 10 minutes to see if the system starts to operate. Modern HVAC systems have multiple control boards and in some instances, a relay may be stuck or the board just needs a hard reset.
If you are experiencing any of the below issues, turn the system off immediately and call your HVAC company or select a heating and cooling professional:
- Water leaking or the sound of water dripping
- No air coming out of the vents
- Ice forming on your system
- Any loud noises
- Outdoor unit is on but the fan is not running
- Burning smell
Finally, here are a few things you should do to help maintain an efficient HVAC system:
- Change your filter regularly. Poor air flow increases your electric bill.
- Avoid blocking your return filter grille with a couch, bookcase or any other furniture.
- Replace your mercury thermostat with a new digital thermostat.
- Never close off supply vents completely. It may seem like a good idea but it can cause condensation to build up at the vent and dripping water.
- Prevent shrubs and leaves from building up around and inside the outdoor unit.
- Keep the thermostat fan set to “Auto.” Never keep your thermostat fan set to “On.”
An HVAC system is usually “out of sight, out of mind.” But if you neglect it, it will demand your attention. While nobody can foresee if and when your system will or will not break, it’s inevitable that you will need service from an HVAC contractor one day.