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With fall closing in on us we are in the home-stretch for air conditioning our homes.  To help yours get to the finish line here are 5 things to keep your eye on...

A note – these are 5 offenders when your a/c quits working. It is not an end-all beat-all list, but these are likely culprits. Listen for your hvac company to use these words…

  • “It’s turned off.” Hopefully you won’t actually have a service tech out to your house to tell you this.

Your hvac system has an on/off switch by the unit. It looks like a light switch. In a weak moment you might mindlessly walk out and flip it off thinking it is a light. Simply flip it back on and the system will re-start.

As long as we are starting with the easy, Change your filter.  A dirty filter will shut down your a/c system.

  • “It’s your thermostat”. Hopefully you won’t actually have a service tech out to your house to tell you this either.

Often a programmable thermostat, which runs on batteries, will shut down your system when the batteries for the thermostat are dead. Been there. Seen that. More than once.

Pop the thermostat off the wall and replace batteries. Probably AA sized. Probably needs 3. You can probably only find two. Tough break. 

Pop the thermostat back on and all should be right with the world. 

  • “It’s a capacitor”. Not a flux-capacitor, but your outside unit has a capacitor in it the size of a Coke can’ish. When it goes, you will still feel air out your vents, although it will be warm air, but your outside unit will not be running (and thus the motor will be getting warm). I repeat, your outside unit will NOT be running at all.

This is actually a pretty simple DIY fix if you are handy and can read a wiring diagram. Drawback – you would have to order the capacitor from a parts company – they aren’t carried in big box stores. Also, parts companies aren't really eager to sell one to you.  So order one on line and figure a three-day wait at least for parts.

Call a pro. They carry these on their trucks.  With this problem from the time they get to your house to the time you have cool air blowing again will be about 7 minutes. It’s worth it. 

  • “It’s your compressor”. Often proceeded by a high squealing sound. When your compressor goes bad you are through getting cool air until a pro can install a new one.

Once again you may still be feeling air blowing from your vents, but it will not be cool air. 

If the compressor is malfunctioning, it won’t be able to turn the refrigerant gas into a liquid – a vital step towards allowing it to cool the air. (Or rather if you will, removing the hot air from your inside air.)

Maybe, possible DIY, but this is a much bigger job than the capacitor is and again you have to wait for parts. (Sensing a theme here?). This is why there are HVAC companies. If you don’t have a good one, call me and I will hook you up with one. 

  • “You are low on refrigerant.” Ahhh, the dreaded refrigerant leak. This is often evidenced by the ice on your indoor unit. 

Yes, it does sound backwards, but not enough refrigerant causes ice and no cool air.

This can be an absolute pain in the neck as refrigerant leaks can be difficult ($$) to find and to fix. 

You cannot do this yourself as you need to be certified to buy it and trap the old refrigerant so it does not get released into the atmosphere.

Do NOT use the refrigerant for a car in your home system. Yes – I am looking at you Mr. Steve my next door neighbor.

One more thing…

If your unit stops producing cool air, A – number one thing to do is to change your filter. An especially dirty filter could be a cause of everything.

Try it.