The conditioning of your house’s air by a central air system involves more than just cooling. The central air unit is also in charge of filtering out dust particles and dehumidifying the air. The system is made up of two separate entities-one located inside the house and the big one located outside the house-and both should be the object of your attempts to troubleshoot central air conditioner problems as they arise.
Thermostat, Fuses and Circuit Breakers
Head for the thermostat if your central air conditioner does not seem to be kicking on despite the room becoming warmer than usual. Someone may have set the thermostat based on their own reaction to the cold and now it won’t kick on until the house gets hotter than a jazz saxophonist after a brief break in the bathroom with the trumpeter, drummer and bass player. If the thermostat isn’t the cause of your central air conditioner not providing adequately cold air, head to the main service panel and check for a blown fuse or a tripped circuit breaker. Replace with a new fuse or flip the circuit breaker back to its ON position.
Check the inside air filter if the house is not cooling as efficiently as it usually. Some central air systems use two different filters while others have only one. Inspect the filter for dirt and dust and replace if too dirty. Turn off the air conditioner and clean a reusable air filter if you have one of that type. In fact, turn off the air conditioner any time you remove the filter.
Vacuum the evaporator coils inside the house unit. The efficiency of the evaporation process that is so vital to the conditioning of your air will corrupt if the evaporator coils become obstructed with too much dirt or dust.
Air Flow Obstruction
Go outside to the condenser unit and check to see if any leaves or grass or vines are clogging the flow of air. Any debris or object that is within a few feet of the condenser unit that could potentially block air flow should be removed, including trees, playthings, weeds, trash and your mother-in-law.
Unlevel Condenser Unit
Get a spirit level to test whether the outside condenser unit is perfectly level. Your air conditioner will not be performing at peak efficiency if the condenser unit is not perfectly level. If necessary, insert wood shims beneath the condenser to level if out. Your system may also come with adjustable feet that you can utilize to reset the unit to the proper level.
Give the blower belt a tightness test. The blower belt of a central air conditioner should have about 3/4th of an inch of play when you pull or push on it. A slipped belt will often announce itself with the odor of burning rubber or by making a squealing sound.
Ensure that the drain that removes condensation from the evaporator coils is open. Look for a pipe with a small diameter and check that water is dripping from it. If there is no dripping water, you can run a wire into it to clear away the obstruction.