As soon as you notice a problem with your air conditioner, take steps to restore cooling. That first step doesn’t have to be calling an air conditioning repair technician, if you’re willing to spend a few minutes checking things that could resolve the problem right away.
Basic air conditioner troubleshooting
Start by making sure that the thermostat is set to Cool and that the set temperature is a few degrees lower than the current room temperature.
What you do next depends on whether the air conditioner blows warm air or isn’t working at all.
Air conditioner blows warm air
One of these quick fixes might get your AC to blow cool air instead of warm air.
- See if the fan in the outside condenser is running. If not, reset the house circuit breaker and the outside circuit breaker for the condenser unit. The air conditioner should resume cooling when the outside condenser fan begins running.
- Replace the air filter if it’s dirty. A clogged air filter can block air flow, causing the evaporator to freeze up. A frozen evaporator won’t cool the air.
- Turn the thermostat to Off to shut off cooling, and turn the circulation fan on. After a few hours, turn the thermostat to Cool. The air conditioner may resume cooling if the evaporator defrosted while running the fan only.
Air conditioner isn’t working at all
A/C completely dead? Try these tips.
- If your HVAC systems has a flip switch — like a light switch— near the indoor blower, make sure the switch is in the On position.
- Check the house circuit breakers for the air conditioner. Resetting a tripped circuit breaker may restore cooling.
- Many air conditioners shut off if the condensate drain pipe clogs, and water doesn’t drain from the evaporator pan. A float switch beside the inside unit trips when drain water backs up in the drain pipe. Clear the clogged drain pipe to reset the float switch and restore cooling.
If these basic troubleshooting steps don’t restore cooling to your home, schedule repair service.
Tips for scheduling air conditioner repair
Few of us schedule repair service often enough to know the drill, so these tips might make the process clearer.
- Schedule service with a service provider that offers same day or next day service. Most reputable air conditioner repair companies have enough service technicians to offer quick service.
- Schedule service online. Setting up service online can be quicker and easier than scheduling service over the phone.
- Most service companies offer service within a time window between 2 and 8 hours instead of at a specific time. Plan to be home within that time range to meet the technician for service.
- Many air conditioner repair providers charge a trip fee to have the technician visit your home and diagnose the air conditioner failure. Be prepared to agree to pay the trip fee when setting up service. You won’t have to pay the trip fee until the technician arrives at your home and begins diagnostic work.
What to expect when the air conditioner repair technician arrives
Here are the basic steps the air conditioner repair tech goes through:
- The technician examines your air conditioner and diagnoses why the air conditioner isn’t cooling.
- The technician discusses the diagnosis with you and provides an estimated cost for the repair. The technician also estimates how long the repair will take.
- If you agree to have the technician complete the repair, the tech completes the work, verifies that the air conditioner works and collects payment.
If you’ve had your air conditioner for more than 10 years and repair parts aren’t available, the technician typically discusses air conditioner replacement with you.
Air conditioner repair warranties
Air conditioner repairs are often covered by separate parts and labor warranties. Discuss parts and labor warranties with your technician and keep track of your repair paperwork just in case the air conditioner fails before the warranties end.
- Repair labor is typically covered for 90 days, but the length of the warranty varies by service provider. Under most labor warranties, the service provider will fix your air conditioner free of charge if it doesn’t work for reasons related to the original repair service.
- Parts manufactures often cover parts for a year or more. Parts warranties also vary by manufacturer. Manufacturers typically replace parts for free when parts fail within the warranty period. The parts warrant might also cover labor to replace a failed part.
The technician may offer you an extended air conditioner warranty during the repair visit. An extended warranty typically covers parts and labor for any future air conditioner repairs. You might pay a small deductible for each service call. Many plans provide for air conditioner replacement if the unit can’t be repairs. Consider covering your air conditioner with an extended warranty to avoid large, unexpected repairs bills.