It is tempting to call in a professional anytime there is an issue with your HVAC system. The truth is that, quite often, the problem you are having may not necessitate having someone come out to provide services. At the very least, checking for a few things on your own can help eliminate some possibilities so that a technician can target where the problem exists more quickly when they do arrive. The following tips do not require any special training and are the HVAC equivalent of what to do when you have a problem with a computer. Just as the first things you should do before calling a computer tech involve simple checks like restarting the system, ensuring it is plugged in, or confirming that it is even turned on, these tips are your first line of defense with your HVAC system before calling in a professional.
1. Change Air Filters
Clogged air filters are actually the number-one cause of an HVAC system failing. Your air filters should be changed at least once every 90 days. Ideally, however, you are going to want to change it more often than that. As a responsible homeowner, one of your regular activities should be checking your air filters once a month and changing them out as needed. They are quite inexpensive and don’t require a professional to change them out. It’s generally just a matter of sliding in a new filter after the old one is slid out. It might be necessary to stand on a chair or stool to replace them if your access points to the filters are overhead. If there is any reason why being up on a chair or stool is not a good idea for you, you could have a friend, neighbor, or family member do it.
Your air filters should be the very first thing you check especially if you have neglected to change them out for a while. All the air that is handled by your HVAC system passes through your air filters. As the filters catch more of the dust, mold, fungal spores, pollen, and pet dander that is present in your home, the fine mesh that air passes through gets denser. This eventually makes it more difficult for the air to pass through and leads your system to have to work harder, become less efficient, slow down proper airflow, and potentially prevent operation.
2. Make Sure Power Is On
If you are a homeowner who does not run a lot of appliances throughout the day and relies on natural light until it’s absolutely necessary to flip a switch, you may not notice that the power has gone out. Before calling in an HVAC professional, you should make sure that there is actually power in your home. If there isn’t, you may need to head over to your home’s circuit breaker and turn it back on if it has been tripped. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you should call the power company or check with a neighbor to see if there is a power outage in your neighborhood. If the outage is limited to your residence, you will want to call the power company or an electrician.
3. Batteries in Thermostat
One simple issue that is overlooked more often than you would expect is that the batteries in your thermostat could be dead. Go over to your thermostat and see if it is lit. If it isn’t, change out the batteries for fresh ones. If you do this and the thermostat does not light up, make sure that the batteries that you removed were actually dead and that the new ones you have put in are new. If they are rechargeable batteries, confirm that they are fully charged. You may have an issue with your thermostat if you put in new or fully charged batteries and the thermostat doesn’t turn back on.
4. Vent Blockages
Your vents are a very sensitive component of your heating and cooling system. When you troubleshoot an issue with your HVAC, take the time to examine your vents. You’re going to want to inspect them for dirt and dust, clearing away any that you find. Make sure that you include confirming that any vents or grills are also clear, as any blockages could be causing irregular airflow. Furniture, plants, or any other objects that could hinder airflow should be at least 2 feet away from vents.
5. Check Outside Unit
Since it’s not in your eye’s view at all times, it can be easy to overlook your outside unit. As it is the central point of airflow for a residential property, checking it should be included in your initial HVAC troubleshooting. It’s possible that leaves, branches, or other debris are suffocating the entire unit. There is also the possibility that a tree or something else may have fallen on your outside unit. If something large has fallen on it, it will absolutely need to be looked at by a professional. If there is simply debris, you can remove it by turning off the power to the unit and then rinsing the unit from top to bottom with the spray nozzle from a hose.
6. Thaw Out the System
One troubleshooting tip is to check your unit and see if you notice any ice. If you do, this is a telltale sign of freezing in your system. The easiest solution, in this case, is to shut your system down at your circuit breaker, wait 24 to 48 hours for all of the ice that is jamming your unit to melt, and then turn your HVAC system back on. If you need a quicker fix, you could try a bit of heat via a hair dryer. With power cut off from your system, hold a hair dryer on a low setting about 10 inches from the evaporator coils. You do not want to go with a higher setting than this or get closer to the coils, as you might damage them. You also may want to avoid the hair blower method unless it is necessary, as working on your equipment yourself could violate the system’s warranty.
After all of the ice is melted, you can turn your AC to ‘Fan’ mode. This will dry the entire system out with warm air. Make sure that when you do this, you only use the fan. If you operate the air conditioning again while there is still moisture present, it will simply freeze all over again.
Speak to a Professional About Troubleshooting
Of course, if you feel uncomfortable about performing any of these troubleshooting tips, you should absolutely have a professional come in and check it out for you. If you are in Anaheim, CA, or the surrounding area, we would love to assist with the initial troubleshooting of your system. At Sano Heating & Air Conditioning, we are dedicated to providing exceptional heating and air conditioning to Orange County. We have over a decade of experience and are ready to help you with any of your repairs, installations, and routine maintenance. If you are ready to experience the customer-focused difference of our team at Sano Heating & Air Conditioning, give us a call today.