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GETTING OFF THE HOTSEAT: WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR AC ISN’T WORKING

Fully-functioning air conditioning is something you don’t fully appreciate until it’s stopped working properly during a heatwave. Suddenly, things like restful sleep and not sweating through your t-shirt while eating dinner become luxuries.

When your AC goes on the fritz, it’s a total game-changer – an albatross if you will. Your home goes from being your castle to an arid desert you can’t escape.

And it presents problems that go beyond the temperature levels in your home. Not everybody has money saved up for repairs or replacements.

Thus, you need to investigate if there are ways to remedy the situation without paying.  You also need to know that point where you must bite the bullet, pull out the old credit card, and call in an HVAC technician.

We’ll be looking at what to do when your AC goes out. We’re discussing clever tricks that’ll keep your home a little bit cooler when the central AC stops working. You’ll also learn about issues that can be solved without a service call. Lastly, we’ll be examining AC malfunctions that you can only rectify by hiring a sure-handed HVAC professional control technology.

Save Yourself the Service Call

The gut reaction when your AC goes out is to visit Google right away and look up “best local HVAC company.”

However, you don’t always need to go to a professional. We do understand that some folks may feel like handiness illiterates, but there’s nothing to fear. These tips are easy to follow—even for the most novice DIYer.

Here are some problems you can solve all on your own:

It’s Really Automatic

The best part about this problem is that it doesn’t require you to get your hands dirty in the slightest. Solving this hiccup with your AC is only a matter of pressing a few measly buttons.

ACs, from time to time, will alternate between blowing out cold air and stuffy lukewarm air. It’s usually because the fan has automatically been set to ‘ON.’ This keeps the fan running all the time, regardless of the air being cooled.

Setting your AC right in this scenario is only a matter of switching the setting to AUTO. No fuss. No muss.

Filtering Through the Problems

We’ll set the scene.

You’ve set the thermostat to a crisp 71°F, but the darn temperature never gets below 76°F. It seems minor, and 76°F is livable… but that’s not what you’ve paid for. Your central AC unit should provide optimal comfort.

Before getting into a tizzy and calling a technician in a heat-fueled rage, just check the air filter. A dirty filter restricts airflow in your AC – preventing the cooler air from circulating in your home.

Furthermore, a dirty filter will cause the evaporator coil to freeze and turn to ice. This will block the air and result in your home receiving no cooling.

If the filter is filthy upon inspection, just replace it with a new one.

Take Your AC Problem to the Cleaners

For your AC to function, the evaporator (the inside unit) must absorb heat from the air before sending the heat to the condenser (the outside unit).

The condenser can become caked with debris and will no longer dissipate heat. As such, your air conditioner will struggle to get those temperatures down.

Hesitant DIYers will be glad to know they don’t require tools for this problem either. Instead, you’ll only need to use a hose on a lower setting. Otherwise, it’ll bend the fins responsible for preventing the condenser from overheating.

It’s then important to look for – and remove – any weeds surrounding the AC unit.

WHEN IT’S TIME TO CALL THE PROS

So, you’ve tried the DIY methods above, but sadly you weren’t presented with a quick fix. Below, are examples of situations where you’re going to have to reach for the old cheque-book.

Your Fan Motor Has Broken Bad

Unless you’ve got some handyman chops, a bad fan motor is going to exceed your DIY grasp. And it’s an urgent issue since it’ll prevent the condenser’s fan from aiding with heat dissipation and stop the AC from cooling your home.

Refrigerant Gone Awry

A lack of refrigerant (the liquid that absorbs the heat from your air) means your AC will fail to soak up heat. Any time refrigerant levels drop, it means there’s a leak.

The following are symptoms of a refrigerant leak:

  • When bubbling or hissing comes from the unit
  • Both refrigerant line and condenser experience ice buildup
  • If AC is functional during colder days but fails to work during hot days

Of course, this is a highly technical problem and can only be handled by a professional. Please note that turning off your AC is a must during refrigerant leaks. If not, it could end up with irreparable damage because of slugging in the compressor.

A Compressor That’s Lost Its Way

An AC without a functioning compressor is akin to a human without a functioning heart. It circulates refrigerant (the lifeblood of the AC) from the inside unit to the outside unit and vice versa. Once damaged, you can say goodbye to a comfortable home for the time being.

Even worse? You’ll have to replace the compressor—which is notoriously expensive.

BATTLING THE HEAT

These tips can help in two ways. First, they’ll help improve the temperature in a home without functioning air conditioning. After all, if the problem is severe and requires extensive repairs, it could be a while before the system is back up and running.

Secondly, after your AC is fixed, these practices will ensure it isn’t working too hard and will operate efficiently for a longer time.

Read on, for some helpful hacks that’ll decrease the temperature to more hospitable levels:

Embrace the Darkness

There’s nothing more beautiful than blue skies and sunshine. Sadly, there’s also nothing that contributes more to temperatures rising in your home.

It makes sense. The sun is 5,505 °C. One home is no match for that kind of firepower. That is unless you purchase heat deflecting windows with low solar heat gain coefficients.

Solar screens also keep heat out. They are installed o the outside of your windows. East-and-west facing windows need special attention as they’re most conducive to heat.

An Air Tight Solution

You probably already know how important it is to have caulked windows and weather-stripped doors. What do get neglected by many homeowners, however, are those danker areas in your home. These parts of your home are synonymous with sizeable air leaks. Provided the vent opens into conditioned space or a kitchen ceiling hole, it can cause problems with high temperatures.

Peruse the premises for any air leaks and pay close attention to those dingey spots you like to avoid, such as the basement, attic, and crawlspace.

Once you’ve found any leaks, seal them up.

See Things at a Surface Level

No matter the home, some rooms are hotter – or colder – than others. Everybody has that one room that feels like a raging inferno. Well, you always wanted a sauna.

The disparity in room temperatures may be amplified in your home is due to poor attic knee-wall insulation. In which case, you must insulate the cavities and sheath the attic side of the knee-walls.

By following these instructions, you’ll reduce surface temperatures.

Fan Your Problems Away

Being stuck with only a fan to fight the heat isn’t necessarily ideal. But if you combine it with the above practices, a fan can help you see your way through the tough times until your AC has been fixed.

It may be common sense to use a fan when your AC has gone kaput. Still, it’s not common sense to use a fan correctly. There are ways to guarantee the best cooling and energy efficiency when using a fan.

Keep in mind that fans don’t cool the air in your home – they cool you. So, don’t leave them on in empty rooms because they serve no purpose other than hurting the environment and skyrocketing your energy bill.

MELT AWAY YOUR AC PROBLEM BEFORE IT MELTS YOU

It’s getting to be that time of year where the heat can be as real and as unpleasant as taxes. We’re not saying that summer isn’t the absolute best. Just, like anything, it has its pitfalls.

And those summertime shortcomings become more evident when your AC starts acting up. Instead of enjoying BBQs, patio drinks, or the golf course, a non-functioning AC means your mind is on one thing and one thing only; your sweltering abode.

You need your home to remain a haven from the more extreme summer conditions. A place where you feel crisp central air cooling you off the second you walk through the front door.

Obviously, you can’t always guarantee your AC will keep working, but by being proactive at the first sign of trouble, any issues will be nipped quickly in the bud.

Meaning, first check if you can handle the problem promptly on your own. Then, if not, quickly call an HVAC professional.

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