How Do You Fix Your Own Air Conditioner?


Sep 12, 2018

Every air conditioning unit breaks down eventually. The lucky thing is that it does not have to be a hassle. Homeowners don’t want to sit through the heat while they wait for someone to come and repair the unit.

By applying a set of common steps, nearly anyone can fix their air conditioner in most cases.

First, it is important to know how an air conditioner works. This helps narrow down the issue and solve it. There is an outside unit and an indoor unit. The outside unit compresses the air and the indoor unit evaporates the air. That means that the outside unit allows warm air to flow outside. The indoor unit uses the evaporation to cool down air. Most indoor units are part of a furnace located in the basement or an utility closet.

Fixing an A/C unit often boils down to keeping parts clean and swapping out any broken parts. This guide will help you do the basics before an expensive expert technician is needed.

Ten Steps to Fixing Your AC

  1. Turn it Off
  2. Check For Tripped Breakers
  3. Clean the Condenser Fan and Fins
  4. Look For Ice On the Fan.
  5. Oil the Fan Motor
  6. Check the Refrigerant Level.
  7. Swap Out the Filter
  8. Clean Out the Ducts
  9. Check the Capacitor
  10. Keep Up Maintenance

The Steps Explained

The first two steps you can do involve the power of the unit. Turn off the power to prevent you from damaging the unit or harming yourself. Either pull out a block or switch it off from the outside power panel near the A/C unit. Or you can go to your fuse box by pulling the main fuse block. This looks like a handle and is the biggest part of the box. Many times a breaker will trip if there is a power surge or one runs too many appliances. What you have to do is go into the central fuse box in your basement or utility closet. Then, lightly push the breaker to the “Off” position. Push it fully off if it easily slides towards that position. Wait a few seconds then flip it back to the “On” position.

These next three steps involve the basic machinery of the unit. Use a vacuum cleaner to siphon off the dust and leaves that could be snarling up the fan. It is best to use a vacuum with soft bristles or a “Shop-vac.” Be careful not to bend any of the fins since they keep out the debris. If there is ice, the system won’t cool properly. It is recommended to turn the system off and just run the fan to melt the ice more quickly. Turning the system off also makes the ice melt on its own. If your unit is an older unit, it likely still has oil ports. Look for the ports and only add a few drops of electric motor oil. Other types of oil will end up damaging the unit.

Then, there will be two more steps to check the coolant and the filter. If you lack coolant, then you will notice an ice buildup on the refrigerant line or a bubbling noise. This is one of the most critical parts of the system. If it gets dirt clogged, then the system will overheat. It can often lead to the system icing up. Take a vacuum cleaner and wave gently near the ducts of your A/C unit. This will remove things like dirt and leaves that could be clogging up your unit. Most failures are caused by the unit getting too dirty. Next, listen for any clicking that is followed by a buzz or hum. This usually means the motor is trying to run, but it doesn’t get the help it needs from the capacitor. The easiest solution is to just replace the capacitor by getting a technician unless you are comfortable working with electricity.

It is best to prevent problems from ever occurring. Monitor parts like fuses, breakers, and thermostats to make sure everything is still hooked up. Swap out your filter on a scheduled basis to stop it from ever getting clogged. Give your air conditioner a check up in the beginning of every spring to make sure it works ahead of time.

Now, you have a basic understanding of the most common issues of an air conditioner. This overview will help you determine if more intensive help is needed. Be careful and take your time. With the proper troubleshooting process, you will be able to get the machine up and running again.