Problems with your HVAC system should not be taken lightly. If your system is not running properly, there could be consequences as small as uncomfortable temperatures throughout your home, to more serious hazards such as a carbon monoxide leakage or fire.
There are many different issues that could arise when it comes to your HVAC system. Some can be fixed easily with minor repairs, and others require a service technician to come out to your location to service your system.
How do you know whether or not it is necessary to call in a technician to service your HVAC system? There are a few things to check for before hiring someone else to resolve the problem.
Issues to Check for Before Calling a Technician
When your HVAC system is not performing as it should, there are a few things you should look for before paying to have a technician come out to your location:
Blockages – Any blockage in your HVAC system could result in improper performance. Check that your vents, dampers, coils, and drain lines are open. Make sure there are no obstructions to these parts—as well as your fan blades—to avoid improper ventilation or a leakage.
Dirty/Corroded/Worn Parts – There are components in your HVAC system that should be cleaned or replaced on a regular basis:
- Check your air filter—Dirty filters restrict airflow, meaning your unit can eventually freeze over. Replace your filters at least once a month.
- Check for dirty or frozen evaporator and condenser coils—If they need to be cleaned, make sure the unit is turned off and spray it down with a hose. If this is inadequate for the amount of buildup, a chemical cleaner may be necessary. These should be cleaned annually.
- Valves, start capacitor, and contactors—These parts can wear over time or become corroded. They should be replaced as necessary—let a technician handle this for you.
Breakers/Blown Fuses – It is not uncommon for your breakers to flip off every now and then. Check your circuit box for tripped switches or blown fuses—if the switch is being tripped time after time or there is a blown fuse, this could mean serious problems.
When your breaker is constantly switching itself off, this means that the circuit is protecting itself from overheating and causing serious damage, such as an electrical fire. In either case, you should have a technician come out to check your electrical connection.
Thermostat Controls – HVAC problems can often stem from your thermostat being on the wrong settings. Check whether or not the device was accidentally turned off, if it is set too high or too low, or if the batteries simply need to be replaced.
Weather Conditions – In some cases, extreme outdoor weather conditions can affect your HVAC system. Take a look at your outdoor unit to make sure that it is not iced-over or being covered by piles of snow. If you need to remove ice or snow, simply spray it down while the unit is turned off.
Also be sure to check that all of your windows, curtains, shades, and doors are shut to ensure your system is not having to work harder than necessary, which could cause further wear and tear.
Strange Noises – Your HVAC system tends to make sounds at times, such as when the unit is first starting up, shutting down, or switching between heating, cooling, and defrost. Common sounds include a “swooshing” noise, hissing, buzzing, and sounds similar to those of a washing machine. If you are hearing unusual noises from your system at strange times, it could be a sign of a bigger issue.
Check to make sure that the fan blades are not hitting an obstruction, which could be the cause. If you are hearing a vibrating sound, check to see if any parts have become loosened, or on the other hand may be strapped too tightly. Otherwise, this may mean that your refrigerant levels are too low, in which case you should call a technician.
Clearly, there are many things that you should look out for when your HVAC system is not performing correctly. Although some problems may be more complicated, it is possible that you can fix the issue on your own rather than having to pay someone else for a simple job.
Have you gone through all of these possibilities, and are still wondering why your HVAC system is not working as it should? Then it may be time to call a technician.
When to Call an HVAC Technician
Because your system can be affected by so many different factors, it is important to make sure that you have exhausted all of these options before calling a technician. Unfortunately, these suggestions do not always solve your problem.
Here are just some of the common problems that only a technician should handle:
Low Refrigerant Level – If your refrigerant levels are low, it could cause your system to overwork itself. Signs of low refrigerant include:
- Higher electric bills
- Problems with your heat pump (i.e. blowing cold air in heating mode, not reaching the right temperature, never shutting off/constantly running, or icing over in the summertime).
- Strange noises coming from your outdoor unit
To fix this problem, your refrigerant levels simply need to be recharged. A technician can take care of this for you and check that it is flowing properly through your system to get you up and running again in no time.
Malfunctioning Parts – There are certain parts of your HVAC system that must be running properly in order for the entire system to function. If any of the following parts are malfunctioning, they must be repaired or replaced:
Motor – The motor is what causes all the other parts to operate. If your motor is not running properly, it is time to call a technician to diagnose the problem. It could be as easy a fix as a wire adjustment to an entire system replacement.
Fan – If your fan is not operating, there are a couple of scenarios that might be the cause. Make sure that there are no obstructions causing the fan blades to get caught. Otherwise, you will need further help. A technician will be able to find the source of the issue. The fan belt may just need to be replaced, or a new fan motor might be necessary.
Defrost Controls – Your HVAC system has a defrost sensor that keeps the unit from freezing over. If your defrost sensor or thermostat is not working properly, it could result in permanent damage. Make sure to call a technician if your unit is not defrosting itself. Neglecting this issue could result in a total loss of your entire system.
Compressor – A faulty compressor makes for a useless HVAC system. The compressor is the heart of the unit and is in charge of circulating the refrigerant throughout the system. If your compressor is malfunctioning, it affects the system as a whole. Only a technician will be able to resolve this issue. Until the compressor is fixed or replaced, the entire unit is a loss.
Improper Ductwork/Insulation/Ventilation – Sometimes everything can be working properly with your HVAC unit itself, but there is still something that is causing inefficiency—maybe you notice inconsistent temperatures throughout your home, or realize that your energy bills have skyrocketed.
Your home must be adequately set up to work with your HVAC system so that the airflow is distributed evenly throughout. If you are noticing these changes and cannot find the source of the issue, hire a technician to make sure your vents, ductwork, and insulation are installed properly.
Thermostat Tampering – You’ve made sure that your thermostat is turned on, is on all of the right settings, and does not need new batteries—but this didn’t solve anything. Now it is time to call a service
The thermostat can sometimes lose its calibration, causing it to misread the temperatures in your home. A technician is able to calibrate the device again, or you can invest in a digital thermostat, which never loses calibration. This will both solve the problem now, as well as prevent the same issue from happening in the future.
Although this list of HVAC issues may seem like a lot, this is not even close to the number of things that could go wrong. If you are having problems with your HVAC system and cannot find the source, we are here to help you.
Take a look at this article for more information on troubleshooting your HVAC system.
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