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“This Old Boiler.” Basic trouble shooting for your HVAC.

Back in the day, when I was younger and braver than I am today I was into cars. I went through quite a few. Not because I had money. On the contrary, I was broke most of the time and bought used cars with a lot of miles on them and that needed a lot of work. Back then there were no computers on cars and everything was pretty much mechanical. I could take an engine apart and put it back together without too many parts left over on the garage floor. As long as the car ran, I figured everything was okay.

Technology changed all that. Some things are great. There’s a light for oil, a light for service, a light for lights and even a light for tires, which I’ve never been able to figure out.

What does this have to do with HVAC? Good question. The technological advances that have changed do-it-yourself car repair have also affected heating and air conditioning. There was a time that checking the pilot light and water levels was enough. Today things are a bit more complicated and a certain level of care needs to be taken if you’re really going to venture into trying to fix your own system. We do highly recommend that you look into a service contract with an HVAC professional to keep things humming along and minimize expensive repairs.

With all that said, there are a few things that you can look for that will give you a heads up to a potential problem and maybe even help the technician better determine what they’re in for. Here’s a list you can reference:

Puddles of water

If you’re seeing water pool up at the base of the unit, that’s a pretty good indication of a clog. In this case, the clog would need to be cleared. Sometimes, depending on how bad the clog is, it’s cheaper to simply replace the tubes.

The unit stops working

Assuming you have your system inspected and cleaned annually, it should run without any trouble. However, if it stops working completely and you aren’t sure why, make sure power is getting to the system. This might seem obvious, but sometimes a circuit breaker will flip and the unit won’t get power. If the air conditioner still won’t work, make the call, it could be an indication of something more serious. A technician may have to recharge the refrigerant.

The unit won’t quit running and the AC runs constantly

You could have the thermostat set too low. Again, this might sound obvious, but it’s a pretty common occurrence. Try setting the temperature a little higher and see of the system responds. It could end up saving you money as well. If that doesn’t solve the problem, your problem could be an airflow issue or an issue with the fan.

The unit freezes up

In a case like this you want to shut the system down and call for service. This could be a sign that your system is low of Freon and needs to be recharged. Either turn off the breaker in the panel or pull the disconnect switch outside.

Those are a few things that you can look for and should at least give you a start to getting your house back to a comfortable temperature. Much like a car, the technology in today’s environmental systems has improved tremendously, but it’s not as simple and straight forward as it once was.

I have to admit, while I did like to do a lot of my own repairs on my old cars, even back then I left things like the steering and the breaks up to the pros.


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