Potential Causes of a Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

In this article we’ll start with some of the easiest possibilities and progress our way up to the more difficult ones in part 2.

Clean air filter. When changed every 30-45 days, these filters will help keep your AC unit working properly.

Dirty air filter. This is a perfect example of what you DON’T want to see in your home. This can lead to serious problems when trying to cool your home.

Issue #1: Believe it or not, I have gone to many service calls and the only thing that was required to make the air conditioner that was not working work again was, a filter change! Mind you, these are cases where the filter or filters are completely clogged. I tell people till I’m blue in the face, change your air conditioner return air filters every 30 days. Everybody promises they will, but if you don’t set a reminder, it’s easy to forget for months and months. If you have hardwood floors all the “stuff” that would normally settle down in the carpet has a much higher chance of getting caught in the return air filters. Add pets, kids, friends, and other miscellaneous traffic…..

I know a lot of people like those 90 days filters. My personal opinion is change them every thirty days without fail with the inexpensive pleated filters like the ones you see ones you see in the picture to the right. Here is why: Your air conditioning system is, in fact, an Air Breathing Machine and you want your AC unit to breathe freely!

Issue #2: A clogged drain line. What? A clogged drain line in the air conditioner will stop it from working? Yes! In fact, a lot the Emergency AC service calls we get in Raleigh are due to the main condensate drain line being clogged and the air conditioner units not working properly as a result.

I’ll go into more detail and tell you how to determine if that is the issue in just a moment.

First, make sure your thermostat is set to cool and the desired temperature selected is below the temperature in the home.

This is a small square condenser unit. This is not the furnace or air handler.

Thermostat not on at all? That’s a huge indicator that you may have a condensate drainage issue stopping your air conditioner from working. Even If the thermostat appears to be working, a clogged drain could still be the issue.

Now we get dirty! You must find out where your furnace, or air handler is that is supplying cool air to the area of concern. I am not talking about the small square condenser unit outside that has the fan blowing on top of it.

This piece of air conditioning equipment is usually in your…

Notice the drain pain, which you will typically find in your attic.

A. Attic; If your air conditioner is not working and the furnace or air handler is located in your attic you will need to inspect the drain pain located directly underneath the evaporator coil in your air conditioning system. Where is the evaporator coil?? And what the heck is it??? See those copper lines going into your HVAC system? Attached to those copper lines is your evaporator coil. In short, it removes the heat and moisture from the air and you feel comfortable. Anyway, look under that area and you will see a drain pan. Is it full of water?

If the answer is yes, you have found the problem! Or at least one of them. 🙂

The reason is simple: there is a safety switch in the drain pan that, when water fills the drain pan, the switch prevents all, or some of the air conditioning system turning on. This in turn stops the AC system from evaporating the moisture from the air so that no more water is produced. In other words, your air conditioner is not working. That’s a good thing because if it didn’t do that, the drain pan would overflow and you would experience major water damage to the home.

You will need to unclog the main condensate drain line and empty the pan full of water before your AC will work properly again. Please see my video on how to unclog your drain line for more information on how to do that.

B. Crawlspace; If the air handler is in the crawlspace you will need to find the evaporator coil. If you don’t know what the evaporator coil is read the paragraph above. Find the PVC condensate drain lines that come out of the evaporator coil area. If they go straight outside then you probably do not have a drainage issue that is causing your AC to malfunction.

If however they do not go outside but in fact are directed to a small pump then we may be on to something here!

Condensate pump.

The main condensate drain line and the secondary condensate drain line go into this pump, (really bad idea, but thats another article.) Some where on the condensate pump you will find an open port where you can put you finger down into the pump. Don’t worry, it won’t bite you. Anyway, this is hugely important stuff, your Air Conditioner Is Not Working Right Now!!

Okay, is there water in the pump? Voila!

Now, check to make sure the outlet the condensate pump is plugged into has power. If it does, you may need a new condensate pump before you can solve the issue of your air conditioner not working.

Condensate Drain Switch

C. Closet; If the location of the air handler is your closet a lot of what I mentioned in the paragraph above applies. Follow the condensate drain lines to locate where they terminate. One item that was not mentioned above and could be applicable in all situations  is an in line secondary condensate drain emergency shutoff switch. You will be able to recognize this switch because there will be wires attached to the drain apparatus. If this switch has been activated this will stop your air conditioner from working. I will soon post a video on unclogging drains to help you with this.

D. Entire HVAC system on the outside the home. this is called a Package unit or a Gas Pack.

Package Unit or Gas Pack

If you have a Gas Pack or a Package unit and your air conditioner is not working, you probably do not have a drainage issue. You will need to move on to the next round of diagnostics in the next article entitled, “Air Conditioner Not Working!? Part 2.” I will be posting the second part of this article and posting some how to videos in the near future.

Meanwhile, if your air conditioner is still not working and you would like to get it working very quickly, call Oria heating and cooling repair service, install, estimate. You can reach a technician by calling 613 866 1869

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