What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Stops Working

ac downLife in South Florida can be a lesson in an easygoing life, with lots of fun in the sun and no harsh, frigid winters.

However, the very same sun that makes a day on the beach so enjoyable often combines with Florida humidity to make life a swelteringly hot and miserable existence once the temperature begins to soar. When it comes to living here, your central air conditioner is your best friend. But if your A/C suddenly stops working, spending time in your home will quickly become a hot, sweaty inconvenience.

While living in a home with a faulty air conditioning system can certainly still beats life with no A/C at all, that relief will quickly end once your air conditioner stops working altogether. If your house is suddenly hot and sweaty and your air conditioner is not putting out any cool air, or if your a/c is leaking water it is time for a little air conditioner 101 before the problem gets any worse.

Troubleshooting the Causes of a Broken Air Conditioner

  1.  Start with the A/C power. It may seem too obvious, but many times the air conditioner is not working because it does not have power. Check the power cord and make sure the electrical plug is fully pushed into a working outlet. Inspect other appliances plugged into the same outlet and if they are not working either, then replace or reset your fuse or circuit breaker.
  2. Stop while the air conditioner is turned off, open the front panel to where the air filter is housed, and remove the air filter. You can either replace the filter with a new one from your local hardware store or clean the old one by vacuuming it or washing it with soap and water, then rinsing it and letting it dry thoroughly before you slide it back into the air conditioner. A clogged air filter can really slow down or even stop air conditioner performance.
  3. Now that you have a clean air filter, shut the access panel, look to see if the cord is plugged into a working outlet, and make sure the main power switch on the air conditioner is turned to “On”. There may be more than one “On” switch on the unit, so check the system thoroughly for switches. While you are at it, make sure the front panel of the unit is shut firmly, as most units will not function if the access panel is open.
  4. Next, move to your thermostat. Make sure the settings are placed at “On” or “Auto Cool” and the temperature is set to a point that is at least 10 degrees below the current outdoor temperature. If the fan is set to “Heat” or “Off”, then your air conditioner is not broken, it just needs to be set to cool correctly. Note: Turning up your thermostat a couple of degrees while you’re not home helps to prevent maintenance problems and can also help you save on energy costs during the summer.
  5. Give the air conditioner a few minutes to turn on once you have set the thermostat to “Cold” and the temperature down, then walk around and check all your vents and registers to make sure that they are all open so cool air can move around the house.
  6. If you still aren’t getting cold air, head outside and make sure the cover on the outdoor unit has been removed, since airflow is essential to proper function. In addition, make sure the unit power switch is turned to “On” and look around the outside unit for signs of damage, clogs due to leaves or other debris, or leaks around the unit. If you find debris or other items that may be blocking the condenser coil, turn the system off and let it cool and stop completely, then clean the debris from the outside of the unit and turn it back on. If you see signs of damage or leaks, turn it back off and call a repairperson for assistance.
  7. If you cannot identify why the air conditioner is still not working, you can try some of the more sophisticated repair attempts as suggested on Inspectapedia.com, but you are probably best off calling for a Boca Raton AC repair person for help.

Tips to Prevent Your A/C from Breaking

Preventing problems with your air conditioner in the first place is actually simple and can save you quite a bit of money in the end. Here are a few air conditioning maintenance tips to make sure you are not dripping with sweat in the middle of the summer with a dead air conditioner:

  1. Perform regular maintenance on your air conditioner, even during months when you do not use it. This will help make sure the air conditioner will run when you DO need
  2. Every three to six months, remove and clean the air filter and make sure the access panel is shut firmly when you are done.
  3. Check the outside unit for any items that have blown into the unit, potentially blocking the condensing coil. It is best to keep the area around the unit clear of bushes, leaves and other items that can easily enter the air conditioner and cause trouble. Put a cover over the outdoor unit when it is not in use.
  4. Run the air conditioner for a few minutes after you have performed your regular maintenance to make sure everything is working fine, and then turn it back off.
  5. During the summer, set your thermostat to “Auto” and raise the temperature at night or when you are not at home, so that the unit only needs to run as needed. If you leave the thermostat at “On” or “Cold” and set at a chilly temperature 24 hours a day, you run a greater risk of burning the unit out.

Schedule Your A/C Repair

USA Air Conditioning Services offer same-day emergency service for broken air conditioners seven days a week. If your A/C is not cooling and you need help now, schedule your service online or give us a call today at (561) 404-0340.

Why is My A/C Leaking Water?

air conditioner leaking water One of the most common problems homeowners face with their air conditioning systems is sudden and seemingly inexplicable leaking. A/C window units tend to leak small amounts of water, which is normal, but when a central air conditioner begins to leak large amounts of water all over your floor, it is probably time to call up a technician.

There are a number of reasons that can cause an air conditioning system to leak water. Some are easily fixed, others are more complicated and some water draining out is actually a normal part of operation. The trick is knowing what is normal and what is an indication of a bigger problem.

central air conditioner

During normal operation, your air conditioning system will be removing moisture from the air inside the home. This moisture will condense on the A/C coils and then drain down and exit through a drain hole at the bottom of the machine. Some A/C window units have a groove in the base pan that leads the water outside rather than a drain hole. Either way, there is always a means for water to drain out of the machine.

If you see a small amount of water coming out of a pipe leading from your air conditioner when it is on, this is probably normal condensation and is nothing to worry about. If the water is coming out from somewhere other than the drain, or if it is excessive, then there is a problem. Regardless of whether you hire an A/C company or choose to fix the leaking yourself, running your A/C system while it is leaking water will only worsen the problem and reduce the efficiency and lifetime of your central air system.

Causes of Air Conditioning Leaks

One reason for water not making it to the drain and flowing into the room instead is the installation of the A/C. An A/C must be tilted slightly backwards toward the outside, so that water will flow toward the drain. If it is installed incorrectly and tilts inward or is level, water may drip into the room. If your A/C is tilting inward, call a repair person and have it reinstalled correctly.

ac leak Algae and other material can accumulate in the pan and clog the drain. A clogged drain is often the reason for an A/C leaking. The drain can usually be cleaned out by flushing with water or vacuuming, but making sure the power is off at the breaker is extremely important for avoiding dangerous accidents while cleaning an A/C drain.

When your air conditioner is running constantly (or in rare cases when the outside temperature in Florida gets below 60º Fahrenheit), ice can form on the coils and then melt causing water leakage. Turning off the A/C every couple of days to allow your system to is the best solution for avoiding this problem.

Why Window Units Tend to Leak Water

ac window unit leaking

Another installation factor that can affect water leaking from an A/C is not having a good seal around the unit where it goes through the wall. If warm air leaks around the machine and then meets cooler air inside the house, condensation can happen in the wrong place causing leakage into the house, or outside along the wall. Installing a foam sealer around the unit and creating a tight seal will solve this problem.

How to Fix an A/C Leak

Fixing a leaking air conditioner is simple, but a tad time-consuming for the motivated do-it-yourselfer. The video below briefly explains what to look for when checking your A/C for possible leaks and causes:

Having your A/C serviced regularly by a professional is one way of preventing water leakage problems in the first place, but chances are, you’re reading this article after the fact. Our A/C techs offer same-day service call for A/C repairs in Broward and Palm Beach county. Need service now? Give us a ring at (561) 404-0340.

Do It Yourself A/C Maintenance Tips

If you have an air conditioner helping you stay cool during Florida’s sweltering hot summer months, you can significantly reduce your energy and repair bills by doing a few regular maintenance tasks. Florida’s high heat and humidity levels can easily result in skyrocketing electric bills, even in late fall!

broken air conditioner Taking a minute to check your A/C system and doing some basic maintenance can help shave off quite a bit of money off an otherwise costly energy bill. Keeping up with maintenance can also increase the life and efficiency of your air conditioning system, saving you more money over the years.

Many people choose to save money on expensive air conditioning service costs by doing their own basic maintenance on their window units and central air conditioning systems. This is a common practice to which entire Do It Yourself forum communities have dedicated tips and instructions for the motivated home owner.

Getting Started

Taking care of your A/C is not hard and does not take a lot of time. But it will be time well spent, especially if your air conditioner is running a lot during the summer. You don’t need any tools to do the job, just a little common sense and a few minutes of time.

First, if you are unsure about how to do these tasks, talk to a professional A/C technician and have him show you what needs to be done. Then, you can do it yourself the next time. If you have a manual, that can be a useful resource, too.

Whenever you do any maintenance on your A/C, start by turning off the power at the thermostat and also the breaker switch (pictured below). Note: While examining your A/C system and opening the unit, be careful not to injure yourself on any sharp metal edges that might be inside your air conditioner when you take the cover off.

air conditioning breaker switch

Changing Your A/C Filter

One of the easiest and perhaps most important maintenance jobs is to check the filter and see if it needs replacing. The filter should lift out without the need for any tools. Once you have it out, hold it up to the light and see if there is dirt, dust, or pet hair clogging it. You should be able to see light through it. If not, it is time to change it, or wash it if it is reusable.

Changing the filter in your A/C should be done at least every three months when it is in service. For pet owners – especially those with long-haired cats or dogs – changing the A/C filter every month or other month is a must. Dirt particles from the air are trapped in the filter and will cause the machine to work harder, requiring more energy and raising your electric bills. In Florida, a clean A/C filter is the key to reducing indoor air humidity, which is hampered by dirt and debris. By keeping the filter clean, you can save as much as 25 percent on energy bills during months when the A/C is in operation.

Its a good idea to have a spare filter on hand before you need one. Publix and other major grocery and convenience stores typically carry disposable filters of all sizes, as well as pet-dander and allergen specific models. If you are running your air conditioning system everyday, check the filter more frequently, especially during the summer months. In areas with heavy particulate matter in the air, a filter can clog up in as little as two weeks.

How to Clean A/C Coils

The next maintenance task is to look at the coils and fins on the unit. The A/C coils are typically protected by a grill that has been screwed in, so keep a screwdriver handy for easy removal. Once you have exposed the coils on your air conditioner, softly brush them from side to side to remove any built-up dirt or leaves. Tip: use a hand clipper and cut away any bushes or plants that are touching the unit. Also, be careful not to apply too much pressure to the coils, or bend them in any way, which could damage your air conditioning system. Also check to see that water is coming out of the drain when the A/C is operating. If it is not, call your repair person for help.

ac coil cleaning tips

Checking the Freon Levels

Freon is the stuff that’s responsible for keeping the air that is blowing from your system nice and cold. Too little of it and the air in your house will remain stagnant and warm, regardless of what temperature you set your thermostat to. When it comes to A/C maintenance, taking care of the freon is an advanced task that is better left to the professionals. Under no circumstances should you consider recharge or flush your refrigerant lines without the proper tools and expertise.

However, a quick check up to make sure everything is working the way it should be is a simple enough task. A/C coolant line insulation can become worn or damaged from prolonged outdoor exposure, and is easy to see.

air conditioner coolant lines

Schedule Maintenance for Your Air Conditioner

Regardless of whether you hire an A/C company or choose to do the maintenance yourself, regularly checking the condition of your A/C system can greatly extend the lifetime of your system, in addition to maximizing efficiency and reducing energy costs.

Having a professional air conditioning technician service your A/C each year, along with these fast and easy maintenance tasks, will keep your cooling system running efficiently for a lot longer. You will stay cooler yourself, too, in more ways than one.

Need help with your air conditioner? Located in Palm Beach county? Give us a ring at (561) 404-0340 or click here to schedule your service call with us. We offer quick, professional same-day service and can help with maintenance, repairs and even new installations.