AC Repair

AC Repair: Troubleshooting and Diagnosing Common AC Problems

Throughout the summer, your air conditioner works hard to keep your home cool. Unfortunately, it may occasionally experience minor issues that require the help of a professional.

Fortunately, scheduling AC maintenance twice a year can minimize the number of repairs your system requires. Here are five common problems that AC Repair technicians see and address. Contact AC Repair Encino now!

The blower fan inside your indoor unit and the condenser fan in your outdoor unit both use motors to operate. If these motors start to go bad, your AC system may struggle to cool your home. Fortunately, the problem is usually easy to diagnose and fix. If the fan isn’t working at all, it’s pretty clear that something has gone wrong with the motor. On the other hand, if you can’t feel air coming out of the vents, there could be a few different issues that need to be addressed.

One common reason for a failing fan or blower is a clogged air filter. If you’re not changing your air filters regularly, a dirty filter can cause the blower to slow down or stop moving altogether.

A more serious issue is a burned-out motor. This can happen if you don’t keep up with regular annual or biannual maintenance services. It can also be caused by overworking the motor, which causes it to overheat and burn out.

Lastly, if the fan isn’t turning, the problem is most likely in the compressor or contactor. The contactor regulates power flow to the motor, and if it’s not functioning properly, the motor will not turn on. To check the contactor, you’ll want to start by checking that the switch is on. If it is, the next step is to go outside and listen to see if the fan in the outdoor unit is running. If the fan in the outdoor unit is not spinning, it’s most likely a contactor issue and you’ll need to call for an AC repair service.

If you can hear the fan in the outdoor unit buzzing but it’s not spinning, you should do a visual inspection to make sure the fan isn’t stuck. It’s possible that it’s obstructed by a tree branch or something similar, which is an easy problem to fix by simply clearing the obstruction.

If the fan in the outdoor unit is obstructed by dirt or other debris, you should not try to open the unit and insert anything into it yourself. This is a job that should be left to an experienced AC repair technician, who can easily clean or replace the fan.

Failing Contactor

There are many electrical parts in your air conditioner, and they all must work together to make it throw cool air. Unfortunately, even the smallest of the components can cause a big problem when they fail. Two of the most common AC problems are a failing capacitor and contactor. These two electrical tag team members work hard to power your AC, and they can be relatively inexpensive to replace or repair if you catch them early.

A failing contactor can often be identified by unusual noises coming from your AC unit. Chattering and humming noises can be the result of a poorly functioning contactor, and they are caused by the rapid movement of metal coils, plungers, and contacts. This type of issue can lead to energy waste and potential damage to other components in the unit if left untreated.

Other signs of a poor-functioning contactor are an unresponsive air conditioning system and signs of overheating components. A contactor that fails to open or close properly will prevent the flow of electricity to the compressor and fan motor, which can cause them to overheat. In addition, a faulty contactor can also fail to shut off the AC when instructed by the thermostat.

You can test the condition of your contactor with a multimeter. Using the meter on the OL (open loop) setting, connect one of the leads to the contactor coil and another lead to the ground terminals. A proper reading should be in the range of 10 to 100 ohms. A higher reading indicates that the coil is bad, and a lower one means the contactor is not functioning correctly.

Visual inspection of the contactor control switch can also reveal the need for a replacement. Burnt, melted, or pitted contact surfaces are typically an indication that the switch is experiencing severe electrical arcing. In addition, a charred or melted casing can indicate that the contactor has been exposed to high levels of heat for an extended period of time. A qualified HVAC technician can determine the source of the failure and recommend an appropriate solution.

Failing Capacitor

A capacitor is the electronic device in your air conditioning system that gives a boost of power at the beginning of each cycle to bring the fan motor up to speed. Like all other electrical and mechanical devices, capacitors are prone to failure over time. When they start to go bad, you may notice a few common symptoms.

One of the most obvious bad AC capacitor symptoms is a lack of airflow from your vents. Your AC isn’t running properly, and this problem is going to make you uncomfortable in your home. Another symptom is a humming sound. This is a sign that your capacitor is struggling to start the compressor and fan. A failing capacitor can damage these expensive components, so it’s important to get it replaced right away.

The first step in fixing a failing capacitor is to turn off the electricity at your unit’s service panel. This will prevent any unwanted accidents from occurring while you’re working on it. Then, use a screwdriver to open the service panel and find the capacitor. It’s usually a metal cylinder with two or three terminals on the top and wires attached to them. Once you locate it, do a visual inspection to check for any signs of trouble.

Look for any bulging, cracks or oil leaking from the capacitor. If you see any of these issues, it’s a good idea to call in an HVAC specialist as soon as possible to replace the capacitor.

It’s a good idea to buy a spare capacitor for your AC so that you can have it on hand in case of emergency. Then, you can have a professional install it for you so that your air conditioner is back up and running as quickly as possible.

A multimeter can be used to test a capacitor. The process is fairly straightforward: you just need to connect the ends of the capacitor to a voltmeter and check for an output of electricity. The capacitor needs to be discharged before it can be removed and replaced, so you’ll want to be sure to wear safety gear and take precautions to protect yourself from any accidental electric shocks.

Failing Condenser Fin

The AC condenser is where warm refrigerant passes its heat to the air outside of your building. During this process, the cooling fins on the top and bottom of the unit can bend or become damaged which restricts air flow and reduces efficiency.

Air conditioner repair technicians use a special tool called a coil fin comb to straighten bent or broken fins. Attempting to do this yourself may cause further damage so we recommend that you consult a professional unless you are confident in your abilities.

A clogged condensate drain tube is another common AC repair issue. The drain tube runs from the outdoor unit to a nearby water drain or floor drain in your home. This tube can get blocked by dirt, algae, or mold and allow water to leak inside your air conditioning system. If you notice a puddle on the ground near your condenser unit or hear a hissing noise, contact a professional immediately to check out your air conditioning system for a possible clogged condensate drain.

Electrical failures are a more serious problem that usually requires professional AC repair. The relay switches, capacitors and wiring that power the motors on the fan and compressor can all fail, causing your air conditioner to stop working altogether. Professional technicians will need to diagnose the specific problem with these components and replace them as needed.

An AC condenser that is over ten years old will likely require a replacement. A faulty condenser can drastically affect your energy bill and it’s usually more cost effective to invest in an entirely new air conditioning system that will provide you with many years of reliable service.

Performing your own AC repairs can be time consuming and expensive. The best way to save money on AC repairs is to prevent them by keeping up with routine maintenance. To do this, start by clearing the area around your outdoor unit and trimming any bushes or tall grass that might come into contact with it. It’s also a good idea to build a fence or gate around your unit to keep pets, lawn mowers and other debris out of the cooling system. A well-placed fence will also help to deter vandalism and other types of damage that can be very costly.