It’s a tale we’ve all heard before: It’s a hot summer day, so you try to turn on your air conditioner. But lo and behold, your AC won’t turn on as it should. So then, you begin your mission to figure out what the problem is, and you find yourself doing a bit of air conditioning troubleshooting.

The thing is, however, when you’re not even sure where to start, it can be difficult to successfully identify and repair the issue with your AC. To help you with your air conditioning troubleshooting, we’ve listed out 7 steps to help you get started. 

1. Make sure your AC has power.

As you begin troubleshooting, you’ll want to keep in mind what you’ve observed has been going wrong with your air conditioner. For example, if you’ve noticed that your air conditioner won’t turn on at all, your system could be experiencing a power issue. 

To determine if you have a power supply issue, start by checking if your thermostat is on. If you have no power to your thermostat, it won’t be able to trigger your AC to turn on. Even if your thermostat has power, if your outdoor condenser unit doesn’t have power, you’ll be out of luck.  

2. Take a look at your thermostat settings.

Once you’ve ruled out power supply as the issue, you’ll want to take a second look at is your thermostat. Oftentimes, a simple error in the settings can result in your system failing to work as it should.

After ensuring that the thermostat is on, you’ll want to double-check that your thermostat is set to “cool,” instead of “heat.” You’ll also want to ensure that you’ve set the temperature low enough for your thermostat to trigger your air conditioner to turn on.

For more on how to troubleshoot your thermostat specifically, check out our blog post: Why is My Thermostat Not Working? 

3. Replace your air filters.

If your thermostat isn’t the issue, then it could be your air filters. When you don’t regularly change out your air filters, they can become clogged with dirt and debris.

Unfortunately, when your air filters become too clogged, it can become so difficult for your air conditioner to run that it overheats. As a result, the next time you try to turn on your AC, it won’t work.

To see if your air filters are the issue, be sure to swap them out. You may also have to double-check if the emergency switch on your air conditioner didn’t get flipped on. If it has been, you may have to reset it. 

4. See if your vents have low airflow.

After ruling out your air filters as the issue, the next thing to check is the airflow of your system. This is very easy to do: Simply hold your hand up to each of your air supply registers and check if all the vents in your home have a typical airflow. 

Varying levels of airflow may mean different things. For instance, if you find that there is only limited airflow into one area of your home, there may be a problem with your ductwork, such as a leak. Unfortunately, leaks in ductwork can only be repaired by an HVAC technician. 

5. Check your condenser unit.

If you’ve noticed that all of your vents have low airflow, or another issue altogether, the next thing you’ll want to check is your condenser unit. Typically, you can find your condenser unit around the side of your house. Before you begin troubleshooting your condenser unit, be sure to turn off your air conditioning system. 

Once your HVAC system is turned off, there are a few things you can look for. First, check for debris. Remove anything, such as sticks or leaves, that could be inhibiting the function of your system. Then, you can look at your condenser fan. Sometimes, debris or bent fins can prevent the fan from moving as it should. Next, take a look at your condenser coils to see if they are dirty as well. Much like your blower fan, build up on your condenser coils can inhibit their ability to function properly. (Learn more about How to Clean an HVAC System.)

Another key thing to consider is if you have a refrigerant leak. One way to identify a refrigerant leak is by looking for frozen refrigerant lines within your condenser unit. For more on how to identify a refrigerant leak, check out: AC Refrigerant Leak Signs You Should Know.

Overwhelmed, yet? We understand that looking at your condenser unit can be a bit confusing, especially if you’re not sure what to look for. That’s when you may want to contact an HVAC technician—they can also help you to clean your HVAC system as well!

6. Take a look at your condensate drain.

When your condenser unit looks good, there’s one more thing you can troubleshoot: your condensate drain. Your condensate drain is located near your outdoor condenser unit and allows your condenser to release the condensation that it collects.

Unfortunately, when this drain becomes clogged, your system cannot empty the condensation as it should. In this way, if your condensate drain is clogged, it can prevent your HVAC system from running as it should.

With your HVAC system powered off, you can try to empty your condensate drain using a vacuum (one that can handle liquid only). Another option is to flush it using distilled vinegar. Too tricky? You can also contact an HVAC technician to do this for you. 

7. Identify any other potential concerns.

After working through Steps 1 through 6, it may be time to contact an HVAC technician for further assistance. Before doing so, you’ll want to take note of what issues you have noticed.

Whether it be that your system is working intermittently or your system isn’t reaching the temperature you expected, be prepared to share these concerns with your technician. 

Need Help with Your Air Conditioning Troubleshooting? 

We hope that going through these seven steps have helped you to carry out your air conditioning troubleshooting. Even more importantly, we hope you were able to identify the root cause of your air conditioning troubles. If not, it may be time to reach out to an HVAC professional for assistance.

At Edge Heating & Air, we’ve been serving our customers for over 15+ years. Having served many Southern California cities, including Murrieta, Temecula, Wildomar, and many others, we’re ready to send an HVAC technician straight to your door, so you can have the comfort you deserve!

To repair your AC, call (951) 304-9658 or schedule your service online