When the weather hits the summer highs around Baltimore, you need your AC working properly to stay comfortable and keep your family safe. However, it’s during these hottest days that your air conditioner is most likely to break down and leave you sweating. Do these eight things when your AC breaks down to keep your home cool and get your system back up and running.
1. Get Your Fans Running
Start working to make your home feel cooler as soon as you realize there’s a problem with your unit. A fan can help make it feel several degrees cooler in your home, depending on the speed you have it set to. Pedestal and oscillating fans are the best for allowing the fan to move air through more of the space, helping more people feel cooler even if it’s not actually cooling your air.
In addition to movable fans, make sure that you’re using your ceiling fans to their maximum capability. First, clean the fan blades so that you aren’t adding more dust and dirt to your air or forcing it down onto people in the room. Next, check to make sure the fan is rotating counterclockwise to push air down for the summer. If it’s not, then turn off the fan and flip the switch on the side of the fan.
The only time fans actually cool the air in your home is when you’re using the fan to draw in air that’s cooler outside than it is inside your home. If you’re just using fans for the cooling effect, turn them off when you leave the room to help keep your energy costs down.
2. Use Some Ice to Cool Down
You may think that using ice on your body to cool yourself down is a good idea, but depending on how much you use and how warm it is, you could send your body into shock. However, there is still a way to use ice to get a little hot weather relief.
Get a large bowl, such as a mixing bowl, and fill it with ice. Set it on a table with a tabletop fan or pedestal fan sitting behind it, then turn the fan on while making sure that the power cord isn’t in the ice. You’ll want to sit directly in front of the fan stream to get the relief of the cool air.
This method will cool the air down immediately, but not with enough volume to cool down your entire room. Rather, it’ll provide some needed relief for a short time to whoever is sitting directly in front of it. You can also use the cool water that collects in the bottom of the bowl to wet a handkerchief or washcloth to put on the back of your neck to help further cool you down.
3. Change Your Air Filter
Once you’ve addressed the immediate things you can do to help keep yourself cool, it’s time to start working on solving why your AC isn’t working. As simple as it seems, a clogged air filter can cause many AC problems, from a lack of airflow and warmer air to the system failing to start.
Shut your system down and check the condition of your air filter even if you feel like you’ve recently changed it. If it’s visibly dirty on the intake side of the filter, then plan to go ahead and put a new filter in. The common 1- and 2-inch filters need replacing about every 30 to 90 days, depending on your air quality and whether the filter is flat or pleated.
4. Check Your Breakers
Your air conditioner can’t work if it doesn’t have power coming to it. While you may not routinely flip the breaker for your AC, there are many things that can cause it to trip. The breaker may open because of a storm-related surge. However, it can also trip because of excessive strain caused by low refrigerant, a faulty compressor, or some other mechanical failure.
Find your circuit breaker and check to make sure the breaker for your AC is in the On position, known as closed. If it’s not, move it back into the proper position. However, it’s important not to force the breaker to stay on.
5. Clear Your Vents
Next, your system can’t effectively cool your home if it can’t get air through your vents. When the vents can’t pass the appropriate amount of air, you may get some cool air, but it won’t circulate enough to cool down your entire home.
Start by checking each supply vent and make sure that the dampers are open. Next, check to make sure that each vent has the proper clearance of 2 inches above and around each side.
Double-check your cool air return vent as well. This normally doesn’t have a damper, but may require more than a 2-inch clearance depending on its size. Check with your trained technician during your next HVAC maintenance visit to see the recommended clearance.
6. Clean Around Your Condensing Unit
Next, double-check to make sure that air can flow through your outside condensing unit without restriction. Make sure there’s no vegetation that’s grown up around the bottom of the unit or that’s intertwined into the grate outside the coil. You’ll also want to make sure that any tree limbs or brush is trimmed back.
Ideally, you want to give your outside condensing unit at least 2 feet around all sides. You’ll want to give 5 feet above the unit to ensure it can effectively vent the hot heat the refrigerant absorbed from inside your home.
7. Double-Check Your Thermostat Settings
Your thermostat can also be the culprit of various issues with your air conditioner. Start by checking the fan setting to make sure that it’s set to Auto. This only runs the fan when the compressor is also running. If it’s set to On, it will run all the time, and it may feel like warm air moving through your vents between cooling cycles.
Next, check both your current temperature setting as well as your programs. When checking your programs, make sure they are set for the proper time to adjust the temperature, plus double-check the time on the thermostat is set properly.
8. Call for a Professional AC Repair
If these simple steps don’t resolve your AC problem, it’s important to call a properly trained HVAC technician to troubleshoot the issue, who can perform a proper AC repair if needed. Trying to fix air conditioning problems on your own is dangerous for anyone not properly trained due to the high voltage they pass. Further, attempting to fix it yourself may void your factory warranty.
Baltimore area property owners have trusted At Your Service Heating & Cooling LLC to keep their homes comfortable since 2013. Our award-winning team provides heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repair along with indoor air quality and backup generator, and a full range of residential plumbing services. Call to schedule your AC repair appointment with one of our expert technicians today.