Home AC Troubleshooting: How to Stay Cool This Summer

There’s nothing quite like spending time outdoors in the heat, then coming inside to be… just as hot. Sound ideal? Not really. 

It can be extremely frustrating to come home to a warm house, especially when all you want is relief from the summer sun. But before you punch, kick, and beg your central air conditioner to work (we promise you that won’t work), take some time to learn a few basics. 

As local Kansas City HVAC experts, our team at Santa Fe Air wants everyone to feel comfortable at home. If you’re struggling with your AC unit and need a helping hand, keep reading for our home AC troubleshooting guide to stay cool, calm, and collected this summer. 

Air conditioner not turning on

So you’ve finally decided the heat is too much to bear and you’re ready to knock down the temperature on your thermostat. All is fine and dandy until you realize that your air conditioner isn’t turning on. Don’t worry, we have some solutions that you can try on your own before you have to bring in a professional. 

Check your thermostat 

The easiest thing you can do is double check that everything is a-okay with your thermostat. First, make sure your thermostat has enough battery power, and replace the batteries if they’re dead. See? Easy fix. 

If that’s not the case, second, (and this one may sound obvious) ask yourself: “Did I switch my thermostat setting to cool?” You’d be surprised how many people call us without realizing their thermostat is still sitting on heat from the winter. If you find that this is the problem, save yourself from a face palm; it happens to the best of us. 

A big way you can avoid this problem in the future is by investing in a smart thermostat. Just like smart phones, smart watches, and smart refrigerators (yes, that’s a thing), a smart thermostat connects to the internet. In doing so, temperature settings become automated based on what you prefer, times you’re usually at home, best temperatures for energy saving, and more. Plus, you can even control settings while you’re away via an app. At the end of the day, a smart thermostat does all the hard work for you, so you can focus on the simpler things in life. 

Check your circuit breakers

Alright, so you checked your thermostat, and that’s not the problem. Your next step would be to check the circuit breaker inside your electrical panel. If a breaker is tripped, it won’t send electricity to your AC to get it up and running. 

We’ll explain. 

If you don’t know, the electricity from your utility company comes to your house via overhead power lines or underground conduits, and all that power is sent to your electrical panel (usually looks like a metal cabinet). Within that panel are circuit breakers, which ensure that electrical wires don’t draw too much power. When a wire gets too hot, the circuit breaker notices and “trips”, meaning it switches off power to that line. 

Long story short, the wiring to your AC may have gotten too hot. If that’s the case, all you have to do is reset the circuit breaker by flipping the switch off and on. Now, if your circuit breakers are constantly tripping, don’t just keep resetting them. At that point, you’re going to want to call an electrician to help you out, because there could be an underlying issue. In some cases, you may even need to upgrade your electrical panel, which could do wonders for your entire home, not just your AC unit. 

5 Common Signs You Have Hazardous Electrical Problems →

Air conditioner not blowing cold air

Blowing warm or even hot air is literally the opposite of how an air conditioner works and is a clear sign that something could be wrong. DIY troubleshooting for this issue may be a little tricky, and there are times when you may need a professional diagnosis. 

Check your air filters

The main thing you can do on your own is check your air filters. Actually, how often do you change them? If you hardly change your air filters, that could be the culprit. Dirty air filters block cool air from your unit. In some cases, it can even cause the condenser (outside unit) to freeze up, which can really reduce its cooling power. 

“How often should I change my home’s air filters?”

Well, the answer depends on a few things. First, which kind of filter do you use? If you use fiberglass filters, you’ll have to change them about once a month. However, if you use something like pleated filters, those may last between 3 to 6 months.

Second, what other conditions affect your home? People with allergies should probably change their filters more often to keep the air quality clean. Also, those with a lot of pets should also change those filters more often. Pet hair and dander get trapped inside those filters, which can cause them to get clogged a lot faster. 

Can I Run My AC Without an Air Filter? →

Check your outside unit 

A dirty condenser unit can’t blow cool air into your home. So it’s best to go outside and make sure there isn’t a whole bunch of debris, plants, and other unnecessary things blocking your condenser. If you see anything, simply clear it away and give the unit space to breathe. After a while, you should notice your air cooling off (as long as debris was the main issue). 

Check your refrigerant levels

The reason we said the issue could be a little trickier is because sometimes the problem is leaky or low refrigerant. For the average Joe, figuring this out on your own could be difficult when you don’t know what to look for. However, a leaking refrigerant could cause issues such as:

  • Low efficiency levels
  • Damaged condenser
  • Evaporator coil freezing
  • Using up too much power (your utility bill will show that)

If you’ve already checked your air filters and your outside unit and both are fine, you’ll more than likely want to call a professional to help you determine if you have a refrigerant issue. With leaks in particular, simply adding more refrigerate won’t do you much good until you get someone to find the source of the leak. 

Note: Some older units may still require R-22 refrigerant. Because of its effect on the environment, as of 2020, R-22 is being phased out. You can still get R-22 for repairs, but you can only obtain used R-22. It is now illegal to manufacture the product in the United States. 

Air conditioner making funny noises

Banging, buzzing, clicking, and hissing can be annoying sounds on their own, but if it comes from your air conditioner, you may be wondering what the heck is going on. There isn’t one main reason why your unit could be making strange sounds, but there are common sounds that share similar underlying issues. 

Keep in mind that if you rarely hear sounds, then it’s probably not an issue. This is more for people who have a constant noise problem. 

Banging

Oftentimes loud banging sounds come from the outdoor unit. Inside there’s a compressor that circulates refrigerant. If there are loose parts, they could start shaking and rattling inside, causing an extremely noticeable banging noise. 

You can always go outside to double check that the outdoor unit is the source. From there, you’re probably going to want to pull in a professional. There’s no need for you to try to become an HVAC handyman overnight; an inexperienced touch could cause even more damage. 

Buzzing

Buzz sounds tend to point toward an electrical issue. This could include problems like arcing, loose wires, malfunctioning parts, or even a failing motor. Before you do anything—put the toolbox down. Electricity isn’t something to mess with… read that again. Tinkering with wires without knowing what you’re doing could lead to house fires, electrocutions, and death in extreme cases. Your best AC troubleshooting option for buzzing? Call your local, licensed electrician. 

Clicking

The first thing you can do when you notice clicking noises is pinpoint when the clicking happens. If your AC clicks while it’s running, there may be something in the blower fan. As the AC runs, that object could hit against the fan. 

Now, if you’re hearing clicking when you’re trying to start your air conditioner, there may be an issue with the thermostat or compressor, especially if the unit won’t run. 

Hissing

Hissing could be a sign that you have a refrigerant leak. When the lines that carry refrigerant get leaks, pressure escapes, which is where the hissing comes from. As we said before, we highly recommend that you seek professional help to fix this issue. 

Santa Fe Air can help with your home AC troubleshooting in Kansas City

If you need help with home AC troubleshooting but don’t know where to start, don’t worry! At Santa Fe Air, we pride ourselves on knowing all things heating, cooling, and electrical. We’re the best HVAC company in Kansas City, and we help people in the KC and Johnson County areas get the most out of their heating and cooling systems. 

No matter what, our customers receive pristine service each and every time. Through our dedication and care, we ensure we get the job done right the first time—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. 

Since 1987 (yep, you read that correctly!) we’ve provided the best service by treating our customers like family, keeping our word, and avoiding upselling just to catch an extra buck. In the end, you get to make the final decision about what’s best for our home to maximize your family’s comfort; we’re just here to help you get there! 

Get started today with a free online quote. 

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