I had this same issue the other night when I got home. In my case, the air handler fan had gone out and needed to be replaced. However, it reminded me to mention a lot of the issues with HVAC units since I have worked as a maintenance engineer and HVAC sales engineer for Trane Commercial Building Services and Engineered Cooling. Hopefully, you might get some tips to (1) possibly save a service call, (2) extend the life of the equipment, (3) improve the performance of your equipment, and (4) Save energy. Things to check when having issues:
The unit is running but can’t keep up. Check to see if the coil is froze up. The air handler inside has a cooling coil which sometimes can freeze up. You will see ice form around the piping going into the unit or on the coil if you remove the cover. The coil can freeze up from being low on refrigerant due to a leak or lack of air flow such as the fan going out in my recent situation. Other airflow issues can happen such as the kids blocking the return air with their toys or really dirty filters….yes I’ve experienced both. NOTE: If the coil is froze up, you will need to turn off the unit but leave the fan on to circulate the air and thaw out the unit so it can be serviced. If the coil is not froze up, you can check the discharge temperature from the vents to see if they are providing air at 45-55 degrees. If the air temperature is cold enough and you are still hot, it could be an issue with excessive heat load from an undersized unit or a home in need of additional insulation, better windows, or coverings over the windows. If the air is 65 degrees or higher and the coil is not froze up, your compressor could be out which could be an expensive repair. Hopefully, it is a capacitor replacement instead or the compressor is covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. NOTE: IF YOU REPLACE YOUR UNIT MAKE SURE YOU FOLLOW THROUGH ON REGISTERING NEW UNIT RIGHT AFTER INSTALLATION TO EXTEND YOUR 5 YEAR WARRANTY TO A 10 YEAR WARRANTY FROM MANY MANUFACTURERS.
The unit is not coming on. Check the electrical breaker to make sure the unit hasn’t tripped the breaker. If the breaker has been tripped, check the breaker box for signs of other breakers being tripped just to make sure that lightening has not hit the box. I once had a neighbor who had an electrical panel which tripped during an electrical storm and when he reset it the house caught on fire within 15 minutes of resetting the breaker. If the breaker resets with no issues and the unit still does not turn on, investigate the following: (1) inside unit has the fan which blows over the coil, (2) outside unit has a fan and a compressor, and (3) investigate the thermostat to make sure battery is good and thermostat is reading properly. At times, the thermostat can be an issue if the power resets, the battery dies, or someone has changed the settings. The setting On/Auto usually works the inside fan while the Cool/Heat/Off works the outside unit. The emergency setting on some thermostats work electric strip heating for low temperatures.
Maintenance Items. Most commercial applications the owner will have the unit service annually up to quarterly depending on the critical nature of the application. For residential units, most people rarely service their units the whole time they live at the home. If you are looking to reduce your chances of problems over the summer, an annual maintenance is recommended in the spring to check for low refrigerant and leaks, clean the outside condenser coils for reducing air flow issues, and general system check which is a reminder on filters, cleaning, fan condition, and overall operation health. Typically, these service visits can be as low as $150-$200 per unit unless an issue is found. Maintenance affects reliability and energy usage so there is a need for filters to be changed and coils cleaned. Note: The coils can be easily damage when cleaning if water is sprayed by a pressure washer or similar stream of water where it folds down the fins.
Please see future articles where we will discuss energy saving ideas.
AdvisorFriend.com Article by Brian Camp
CONTACT: 205-369-7154 cell Brian@BrianCamp.com
Brian Camp, MBA, BSME & 20 Years of Experience in Real Estate, Construction,
and Building Services
My team wants to work for you! Ask for Brian.
Partner/Realtor/Land Developer, Lovejoy Realty website: www.LovejoyRealty.com
Owner/Homebuilder: Waterstone Homes, LLC website: www.WaterstoneHomes.net
Realtor/Broker/Owner, Waterstone Professional Services, LLC
Brian Camp: Realtor,