Have You Tested Your Air Conditioning System

Most homeowners have little trouble inspecting their heating systems before winter arrives, but not everyone thinks about checking out their air conditioners before summer hits. There are a few simple things you can do to determine if your home is going to be kept cool right from the start or if you will need to have someone come out and take a look at it.

If your unit is equipped with an outside thermostat, remember most systems won’t operate when the outside temperature is below 65 degrees. If it is warmer, turn on your air conditioner by setting the fan to automatic and set the thermostat above the current indoor temperature. After a few minutes your unit should start to blow cool air. You can take a thermometer and check the air temperature at the return register and at the supply register.

If the unit is functioning properly you will see a difference between them of about 14 to 20 degrees. If there appears to be no difference and if you walk outside and do not hear it running, check the fuse box or breaker switch to make sure you are getting electricity to the unit.

If the temperature difference is more than 20 degrees it means the air from the unit is restricted usually the result of a clogged air filter. Pull out the filter and visually inspect it. If changing the filter doesn’t help there may be other problems for which calling in a professional may be required. If the temperature difference is less than 14 degrees, there are four possible problems:

  1. Return register is blocked, not allowing air to return to the system;
  2. The evaporator coils are dirty;
  3. There is a problem with the compressor
  4. Your unit is low on refrigerant

To correct these issues, walk through your house and check all of your return registers and make sure they aren’t blocked. Furniture in the way or closed vents are the most common causes, but sometimes, especially with children in the home, toys and clothing can block these return registers. You can also check to see if dirt or other debris is coating the evaporator coils. The evaporator for a central air system is located on the furnace above the plenum. Keeping them clean should be part of a regular maintenance routine.

Unless you have the experience and the necessary tools, if the simple checks reveal a different problem, it’s best to call in a professional heating and cooling company to have it thoroughly checked out before the beginning of the season. If your unit was manufactured before 2010 it could be low on r22refrigerant, in which case you will need to have a technician come out and check for leaks before refilling the system with refrigerant.

By checking some of the simple things that cause the system not to work properly, and correcting them if possible, you can save yourself the time of calling in a professional who may not be needed. On the other hand, getting expert help for those things you can’t fix, will get you back up and running much sooner.

How to Maintain an Air Conditioner

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