In the height of heat and humidity in Florida, almost every homeowner keeps their air conditioning (AC) running while at home. Then one day, it happens: the central AC or window unit stops working and cooling rooms throughout your home.
Most of us have experienced this scenario in one form or another, and it’s a less-than-ideal occurrence. But when it happens, there are a few things you can do on your own to inspect your cooling and heating system in partnership with your trusted Clearwater AC professionals at Air Care.
Read on to discover eight common reasons why your AC may not be working, and together, we’ll help you get your system running again.
When you notice the temperature of your home is too warm or too humid, check your thermostat first. If the thermostat screen is off or blank, you may just need new batteries.
Sometimes it may be that your temperature setting is set too high, which causes the AC system not to kick on until it exceeds the set temperature. First, check your thermostat settings and ensure the system is set to “Cool.” Then, turn the temperature down one to two degrees, and wait to hear if the AC turns on.
It’s also important to set your fan switch to “Auto” so it’s not running continuously. When the setting is set to “On,” this means your AC fan is always working, which can lead to higher energy costs, increase home humidity, leaky air ducts, and more.
Air filters prevent dirt and dust from entering the air handler and keep your air clean from harmful airborne particles. When it’s too dirty, the airflow is restricted, and your home will not be properly ventilated.
Most central AC units have an air filter compartment in or around the air handler. To check your filter, first turn off your AC system from the thermostat and remove the air filter from the handler. Inspect it for excessive dirt and dust, and if it’s unclean, change it out for a new one. Be sure to select the right size filter for your handler, since an incorrect size can affect how your system cools, too.
You should always check your air filter at least one a month, especially in the Florida summer months when your AC is used more frequently. Depending on the size of your home–and if you have pets, allergens or a health condition–you may have to change your air filter more frequently to protect yourself and your family.
Electrical Circuit Breaker
Central, window and ductless/mini-split AC units are often overused during the warmest months, where frequent thunderstorms bring lots of rainfall and power outages to the Tampa Bay area, often tripping the electrical breaker.
If your central AC stops working, it may be as simple as resetting your system from the circuit board. Here’s how:
- First, shut down your AC from the thermostat (“Off” position).
- Next, locate your circuit board, which is usually in your garage, hallway or a common area closet.
- Open the breaker, and find the proper switch for the AC unit (usually labeled).
- Flip the AC switch from “On” to “Off,” and wait at least 30 seconds.
- Switch it back to the “On” position and wait another 30 seconds.
- From your thermostat, turn your system back “On” and set the temperature to your desired setting.
- You should hear your AC system begin to run, and hopefully, cool your home.
If none of these solutions help your problem, it’s time to call your Clearwater AC professionals at Air Care to troubleshoot the issue and take your inspection to the next level.
Evaporator Coils, Condensation Drain, Condenser Unit & Refrigerant
Your HVAC system has many different parts that handle the cooling process. The more your AC runs, the more wear and tear it will experience over time, just like the engine or tires on a car.
Our Air Care service technicians regularly check the AC cooling and heating components–including the evaporator coils, condensation tray, drainage line, condenser unit and refrigerant–during our bi-annual service tune-up. However, sometimes these parts malfunction or need extra attention if your system is overused or exposed to excessive Tampa Bay-area weather.
Refrigerant, also known as “freon,” is the liquid that absorbs and transfers heat from one part of your AC system to another, changing between a liquid and gas form. If your system is low on refrigerant or has a leak, the refrigerant can’t absorb as much heat from your home and can lead to a system that runs nonstop, yet never cools your home. It’s important to understand which refrigerant your AC system takes before fixing and refilling it. Read more and talk with an AC professional at Air Care for assistance.
Evaporator coils work with your AC refrigerant to remove heat from your home and carry it outdoors. If evaporator coils are covered with dust, dirt, frost or mold, it’s time to clean the coils so your AC works properly and more efficiently.
The condenser is made up of the compressor, a fan, copper tubing, condenser tubes and fins, valves and switches. As the refrigerant absorbs the heat from your home and travels through the evaporator coils, it exits through the condenser unit. These parts are commonly affected by excessive Florida conditions or debris, and many homes across Clearwater, Bellair and the beaches may notice rust form on the outdoor condenser coils due to the salt in the air. While rust does not necessarily harm your AC unit, a blocked or dirty condenser can cause your system to stop working altogether.
Sometimes you can clean your indoor evaporator coils and outside condenser coils with a hose, but if these parts have excessive dirt, dust or debris, turn to a professional at Air Care to help, since it’s a more complex process and harsher chemicals or materials may be needed.
Once the evaporator in your AC unit converts refrigerant from a liquid to a gas, water is released into the condensation tray and drain line. If the drain gets clogged with dirt, debris, algae or mold, your AC will have trouble cooling your home.
An easy way to tell if your drain is clogged is if your tray is full of water, so make it a habit to check yours every time you change your AC filter. Fortunately, you can clean your drain line if you have the right tools: bleach, funnel wire brush, wet/dry vacuum and gloves.
For tougher clogs, turn off your HVAC unit first and use a wire brush to loosen the grime in your drain line. Then, use a wet/dry vacuum to suck out debris and clear your clog. To clean your drain line in between Air Care maintenance appointments, pour a mild cleansing agent (like distilled vinegar) into the drain line, especially if you notice any blockage or a musty smell2–just be sure to turn your HVAC unit off first.
For assistance unclogging or cleaning your drain line, contact Air Care today.
Does the Size of My AC Matter?
Yes, the size of your AC unit is extremely important when selecting a new system. A central AC system that’s too small for your home–or a window or ductless mini-split units that’s too small for your room–won’t sufficiently cool it. Likewise, an oversized AC system will cycle on and off more than necessary, wasting energy and putting potential strain on your compressor3.
When our technicians at Air Care size AC units for home, we use a precise calculation and method called the “Manual J calculation.” Contact Air Care today, and read more about our process.
When Should I Replace my AC?
The best way to diagnose your central cooling and heating system is to have an AC expert take a look. Our Air Care technicians will inspect and fix necessary repairs, as well as help you decide the right AC system to install if you need a replacement, taking into consideration the size of your home, ductwork, insulation, Clearwater-area climate, and more.
As a trusted Rheem Pro partner, our service technicians are certified to repair, replace and maintain all Rheem AC systems. We also service and repair all (but not limited to) AC systems, including Carrier, Trane, Goodman, Bryant, York, Lenox and more.
Give us a call today to get a new HVAC installation in Pinellas, southern Pasco and western Hillsborough.
Your Professional Clearwater AC Partners
When you hire Air Care for heating and AC services, we’re committed to doing it right the first time and providing some of the best quality HVAC experience in the industry.
Contact Air Care today for a free in-home written estimate on an AC repair or system replacement.
“If you require an AC repair or need a reliable company to provide you with a new air conditioner like I did, then these are the guys to call. They did what I thought would be a stressful job in a fast way that was very impressive.” – Fred of Clearwater, FL
 FloridaAcademy.edu: Common air conditioning issues Florida
 Carrier: How to Fix a Clogged AC Drain Line
 Rheem: How to Choose an Air Conditioning System