Why isn't my air conditioner working? 5 easy steps for a cool summer | America's Preferred Home Warranty Skip to main content

Why isn't my air conditioner working? 5 easy steps for a cool summer

A thumbs up in front of an air conditioner is visible in a white person's sunglasses

It’s almost time to put our winter coats and boots in storage, which means it’s the right time to make sure your air conditioner is as ready for summer relaxation as you are. Follow these easy steps to keep your A/C whirring.

Step 1: Cut it off

Before you get started, it’s important to make sure your unit is completely shut off. Go to your circuit breaker and turn off the switch to your A/C unit. Test the power source to ensure it’s off before beginning any cleaning.

Step 2: Clean it up

Sticks and stones won’t only break bones—they can break your air conditioner. Clear away any loose dirt, sticks, and pebbles to prevent anything from getting into your A/C unit and damaging the machinery, which may need to be fixed by a professional.

Leaves and dust can cause similar problems. Trim or pull any nearby grass and plants that sit too close to your A/C, forming a clearing of 2 & ½ feet around your unit. Remove dust with the control of a can of condensed air or by gently using the brush attachment on a wet/dry vacuum works.

Pro Tip: DO NOT use a pressure washer—it could easily bend the coils of your A/C unit, which could be costly to repair.

Step 3: Tighten and realign

If you’ve noticed your air conditioner has been making noise, your unit’s screws and internal fans may be the cause of all that disruption. Now that the area around it has been cleared, check your air conditioner’s screws and tighten or replace any that have come loose or fallen out. Screws for your air conditioner should be available at your local hardware store.  

Check the alignment of the fans inside your unit and adjust them as needed to avoid any clicking from them being off-kilter. With these items in place, you should be able to eliminate the clanging and knocking.

Step 4: Swap your filter

Your A/C unit could also be making noise because your HVAC filter is clogged, which cause it to be overworked or overheated. If it’s been more than 3 months, or if your filter is clogged, changing a dirty HVAC filter can prevent your air conditioner from getting too hot or causing a racket, which could lead to damage.

Step 5: Test it out 

After giving your A/C a refresh for the summer, it’s time to give it a quick test. This is best done with two people—one outside at the unit, and the other at the thermostat to turn on that refreshing cool air. Flip the switch in your circuit breaker to restore your air conditioner’s power. If anything seems off, you can quickly hit the switch, instead of having to run back inside.

That’s it! Your air conditioner should be set to give you cool breezes all summer long. If your maintenance continues to malfunction after performing the maintenance above, it may be time to call a professional.

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