Things to Check Before Calling the AC Repairman

You Are Not Alone

Central Air Conditioning systems are one of those modern day conveniences that many find they just can't live without. The thought of calling a repairman fills us with dread.

Before I married my husband who is a Mechanical Contractor, I found myself in need of the AC wizard. My air conditioning was suddenly cranking out ice cubes and I could not get my thermometer above the Antarctic setting. Is there really such a thing as an air conditioner working too well?

The first guy that showed up at my door performed whatever voodoo magic he deemed necessary and things seemed to be all right with the world. Not so, I soon realized, as the temperature began to rise. Welcome to the Sahara. Back on the telephone and another repairman appears the next day. I guess the first guy only dealt with cold climates, because a new guy was sent to fix the first repair.  

The second guy, who I call the Wrecker, must not have liked being relegated to the warmer climes, he was a bitter, mean man. The Wrecker called me outside to the condenser unit which he had scattered about in pieces. He grabbed onto the fan looking part and started yanking it up and down! The Wrecker is telling me that the bearings are bad because, as I can plainly see by his alarming demonstration, there is no play in the shaft. I will need a new unit.


"Whoah! Put the brakes on it Buddy," I tell him. Just put it back together. I have a little experience when it comes to bearings. It seems that I have a knack for buying cars that have bad bearings. Loose is not good. And don't forget, my original call was because it was working too well, with those same bearings.

The third guy arrived on a white steed and had a glow all about himself. A Hero was sent to rescue me from the desert. The Hero tried to explain to me that here was too much of the magic juice called refrigerant and that he had balanced the pressures- all would be fine in the kingdom once again. This didn't make one bit of sense to me at the time, if it is hot, would I not need more of the magic juice? It didn't matter, the Kingdom was cool again, don't look for fault in the glowing light.

About a year later, I met the man who was to later become my husband. It almost did not go that way when I found out he was the Grand Wizard of Air Conditioning- a Mechanical Contractor. How could I ever trust him? I decided to infiltrate the ranks to see what I could learn before setting him free.

Well, things did not turn out the way I expected, I became an apprentice to his wizardry. Turns out, I am pretty good at it too. But, still being a nice person deep down inside, I have decided to use my magic for the good, which is the purpose for writing this hub.

Check These Things Before Calling the AC Repair Wizard

Thermostat: 4 items

  • Check the settings- Auto, Cool and Temperature set at your comfort level We really do get calls for improperly set thermostats.
  • Battery- if your thermostat uses a battery it may need to be changed there should be an indicator, sometimes it flashes, or says check battery or batt
  • Dirt- Remove the face plate and check for dust or dirt. A can of compressed air can clean it out. Don't hold the can too closely or you can damage delicate parts.
  • Yoyo-ing the temperature- Changing the temperature up and down frequently can cause the compressor to over heat and shut down. Resist the urge. Time delay circuits are sometimes installed to protect the compressor. Set the desired temperature and wait for the system to adjust.

Humidistat: 1 item

  • Not all systems have them, this is something that is usually installed in a vacation home where residency is not year round. You should have directions for operation. The correct operation settings depends on how it is wired.

Filters: 2 items

  • Dirt- Most systems have one at the return air grill. Sometimes there is a filter in the Air Handler, that is only likely if the air handler is where you can reach it easily. In my house we have one in both of these places.A dirty filter chokes the machine and can cause it to ice up. This can lead to flooding which I will go into more below. Clean the filter if it is an electrostatic filter. Change a disposable type. Blue fibrous filters, also know as Hog Hair, are called permanent, but they are very bad for you, the air you breathe and your evaporator coil because after the first few washings, the fibers break down and go into the coil and the air. They also mildew very easily.
  • Crowding- If the Air Handler is inside of a closet or tucked into a corner and you have stuff stored around it, you may be choking off the air flow. Do not stack anything around the machine.

Drain and Emergency Drain Pan: 2 items

  • Clogged Drain- the drain pan in the air handler fills up and spills over into the emergency pan. If there is an overflow switch installed on the emergency pan, this will shut the system off until the pan is drained. Use a wet dry vac to remove the water. Have someone stay at the air handler while you go outside to the drain outlet. Using a garden hose, flush water up the drain pipe to help blow algae loose. The person at the other end can let you know when water appears. You have to take care that you don't flood the inside.
  • Slow Drain- the pan may fill up, shut off the system and then restart after the pan empties giving you intermittent service. This can lead to thinking that the refrigerant levels are wrong or that the thermostat is not working. Pouring a couple of tablespoons of bleach monthly down the drain can help keep the algae growth down. You may also find the anti algae tabs in the home improvement center to put in the drain pan. It needs to put into the drain pan inside of the air handler, not the emergency pan.

Breakers: 3 items

  • Check the breaker, you must turn it off, then turn it back on. Looking at it is not good enough. A power surge or storm can cause it to trip. The breaker should snap back into the on position. If it is mush, you may need to have the breaker replaced.
  • Check outside at the Condenser, there should be a blade disconnect there. It is not common to have fuses any more, but if your system is old, there may be a bad fuse.
  • Check at the Air handler, especially if it is in an attic or otherwise far from the Thermostat. There may be a disconnect located there as well.

If all of these things are as they should be, then it is time to call the repairman. If you do not have regular maintenance, then you should really consider having it done at least once a year. Older or heavily used systems may need it twice a year. Maintenance will check all of these things regularly and also the electrical connections, refrigerant pressures, coils, compressor and motors. With regular maintenance, your AC will be less likely to let you down unexpectedly.

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Comments 3 comments

joshel 7 years ago

Great Article about air conditioning Kitty

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LazarDRod 7 years ago

There's some great information in this hub. If my AC ever starts acting crazy, I'll come back to this page first. Thank You.

Sergio Freddson 19 months ago

I never realized that the thermostat could cause so many issues. Is this pretty common or does it depend on the type of thermostat that you have? I'll have to check this out when I get home! Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

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