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Your Central AC Broke? Don’t Make a Rash Decision.

It’s a heat wave, getting close to 95 degrees outside, but you’re sitting on your couch watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones, cool and comfortable. You turn to your husband and say something like, “Thank heavens that we have Central AC.” And then you hear a clunk or maybe even a clink. Maybe you don’t hear anything at all but you notice that the air temperature is no longer in the perfect zone, where you feel comfortable whether you’re in shorts and a tee shirt or a business suit. “Oh, crap,” you think to yourself and after a brief investigation, you realize the Central AC isn’t working. Oh, crap indeed.

The most important thing to do at this point is to give yourself time. The knee-jerk reaction is to panic, call the first HVAC technician you find and pay whatever he tells you is needed to fix the system. Don’t do it.

When the heat goes up, more strain is put on a Central AC system and this is when many older units fail. The problem could be as simple as a broken condenser coil or as complicated as a burnt-out compressor. In either case it will require that you call a technician. If you have a service agreement, kudos to you. Find the agreement and make the call. A technician will come out, diagnose the problem and let you know if it is covered under your agreement. If not, he or she should clearly explain the situation and provide you with options. If the cost is in the thousands consider getting a second opinion. Many times a technician will miss something or misdiagnose the problem. Make sure to check out our list of considerations and questions to ask technicians blog post.

In the meantime, break out a window fan, place it in the bedroom and gather the family around and have some bonding time in the one room in the house that isn’t a steam bath. It could mean the difference between a rushed, $3,000-plus decision to purchase an entirely new unit or only replacing a few parts for under a few hundred bucks.


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