Unless you work as an HVAC technician, air conditioning problems can be incredibly intimidating and allusive. Once that system stops pumping out cold air, you might assume that the issue stems from a broken fan, a refrigerant leak, or a malfunctioning compressor. However, not all air conditioning problems are created equal. Here are two easy repairs that might solve your AC troubles, so that you can enjoy your summer:
1: Clean The Evaporator Coils
Once spring arrives and you turn off the heat, you might not give your furnace a second thought. However, if you have a traditional split HVAC system, your air conditioner works in harmony with your furnace to cool the air. Once air is pulled in from the fan inside your AC unit, it moves to the air handler, where it runs through your evaporator coils. These coils contain tubes filled with refrigerant pumped from your air conditioner, which remove humidity and absorb heat. Unfortunately, these coils can accumulate dust and dirt over time, rendering your air conditioner less effective.
Fortunately, you might be able to tidy up these coils in no time. Most evaporator coils are located inside your furnace or air handler cabinet behind a simple metal panel. Before you get started, turn off the power to your furnace and take off the panel hiding the coils. Here are a few easy ways to clean this area:
- Use Self-Rinsing Foam: Evaporator coils are usually tightly situated inside the cabinet, which can make it hard to navigate a sponge, washcloth, or toothbrush around in the space. However, you can actually buy self-rinsing aerosol coil cleaner at most hardware stores. These products work by breaking apart grime, and then rinsing away when the system turns back on and produces droplets of condensation.
- Straighten the Fins: The fins of your evaporator coils should be straight and unobstructed. If you notice bent fins, take the time to straighten them out with a fin comb. These combs are specially designed for evaporator coils and they are easy to use. By running the comb up and down the coil, they will automatically bend fins back to their original position.
If you pop open your furnace cabinet and discover severely damaged or moldy evaporator coils, don't try to service your system on your own. Instead, call an HVAC technician for help. By using small, high-powered vacuums and tools specifically designed to do the job, they can make those coils look brand new.
2: Check The Thermostat
Once you know that your evaporator coil is clean and functional, turn your attention to your thermostat. Here are a few simple issues that can spell big trouble with your air conditioner:
- Location: Is your thermostat located near a vent, a window, or a door? Since the role of your thermostat is to gauge the ambient temperature and turn on the air conditioner, an abnormally warm or cool location might throw off your climate control. To avoid problems, experts typically recommend keeping your thermostat on an interior wall in a common area away from anything that could alter the temperature.
- Dirt or Dust Accumulation: Does your home seem a little dusty? If dust and grime builds up inside of your thermostat, it could skew sensors that regulate your home's climate. Check the inside of your thermostat regularly for dust accumulation. Gently vacuum affected areas to keep your thermostat on point.
In addition to potentially saving time and money on repairs, troubleshooting your system might also help professionals to rule out other problems. For example, if you clean your evaporator coils but it doesn't do the trick, the HVAC professional you hire can troubleshoot other parts of your system—instead of spending time cleaning.
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