Most people will call an HVAC contractor the second something goes wrong, but there are a few things you can do yourself to get more information on the problem before calling. You’d be surprised how often the entire problem boils down to flipping a switch, and we can all agree that hiring an HVAC technician just to enter your home and flip a switch is a bit unnecessary (and potentially embarrassing).
For example, if your air conditioner is working but not cooling, it could be as simple as an incorrect setting that was accidentally tempered with, either by children or by pressing a button without noticing. Another simple reason could be the outside unit – if it’s obstructed by debris, trees or plants, it’s not getting enough air flow to function properly.
And for both of those issues, you don’t have to call a technician.
To prevent that, all we have to do is check tende five simple things. With these out of the way, you’ll know when to call HVAC repair for real – and even better, already with useful information to give since you’ll have checked the basics yourself and likely identified the issue.
1. Check the thermostat
Most thermostats work on batteries. The absolute first thing you should do is check if the batteries are working properly, especially if the thermostat seems to be the root of the problem.
However, your HVAC problems can be due to incorrect settings. Check if everything is in order with the help of a manual (Youtube videos might help as well), because a child can easily create some confusion by pressing buttons and a simple setting might be off.
TIP: Professionals recommend avoid setting your thermostat lower than 70 degrees, as it risks freezing the unit, which in turn compromises your HVAC system.
2. Check the air filters
Air filters must be replaced regularly both to make sure your HVAC system continues to work optimally, but also to keep your air clean and prevent allergies and intoxication. Whenever HVAC maintenance is mentioned, the first thing that should come to mind is replacing your filters.
If you know for a fact how long ago the filters were changed, you can already schedule for replacing, but do check them in person to make sure they are not the main problem.
Filters should be replaced as follows:
- 1-inch filters should be changed every month
- 2-inch filters should be changed every 2 months
- 4 to 5-inch filters should be changed every 6 months (they can last longer than that, but 6 months is a good time to replace)
3. Check the vents
Vents are where the entire flow of your HVAC system lies, so naturally, if there’s something wrong with a single section, it can compromise the entire system. Signs that your problem is in the vents include symptoms like bad odor or bad air flow in certain areas of the house.
You might not be able to check very deep yourself, but you can take a good look at vents with a flashlight for excess debris, dust, leaves, or even small animals that might have gotten stuck there somehow.
While making your route, check for possible sections that are not properly connected, leaking or just clearly damaged. Any kind of small hole, crack or badly sealed area already compromises your air flow.
4. Check the outside unit
The outside unit is the heart of your HVAC system and it must be checked regularly. In this case all you have to check is on the surface:
- Clear any debris that might be blocking the unit
- Check for frost or signs of overheating, depending on your usage
- Be wary of loud unusual noises
If you notice any of the symptoms above, be sure to mention them to your HVAC technician.
TIP: Clip trees or plants growing too close to the unit – try to keep a free three meter radius around the unit to ensure healthy air flow.
5. Check the circuit breaker
Again, it might seem too simple to be the case, but an HVAC that refuses to turn on or seems to be working on half light could be due to a circuit breaker issue.
Check your circuit breaker first for switches that could be off, but also for busted fuses – in the event of a power surge, they will take all the charge to protect your home. If that happens to be the case, simply replacing the fuse should get everything working again.
I checked everything. What now?
If following these steps did not help you fix your HVAC system, then it is indeed time to call an HVAC technician. Hopefully though, these five steps should help you locate where the root of the problem is, and when the technician arrives you can brief him on your findings!
Get a free quote for an HVAC technician today!