Every homeowner, with a home equipped with a residential air conditioning system, must acknowledge two types of air conditioning problems: (1) those that you can troubleshoot on their own; (2) and those better left in the hands of a qualified technician. The problem with air conditioning troubleshooting is if the troubleshooter does not have sufficient knowledge of how an air conditioning works and just leave everything to guesswork. That is why, before you start playing the resourceful MacGyver, make sure you have some basic knowledge of air conditioners.
How an air conditioner works, whether for the home, car and other places, can be condensed in one sentence: The refrigerant circulates through the compressor, evaporator, and condenser to make the air cool.
This is the longer but still simplified version of how it works: When you turn on your central air conditioning system, its thermostat intelligently gives the air conditioning system a cue to bring own air temperature, leading to an entire chain of events. The part which handles the air is set on, sucking in air from different parts of the house via return-air ducts. The system then draws this air through a filter where lint, dust and other particles in the air are removed. Some innovative filters can even extricate microscopic pollutants. The air is then is dispatched to the air-supply duct work, where it is circulated back to the different parts of the house. This cycle repeatedly takes place while the air conditioning system is in use.
Now, let us take the system to pieces and take a look at the respective roles of each part.
Compressor. This motor is usually situated outside the house. Living up to its name, it compresses low pressure refrigerant gas into a high temperature, high pressure gas and hauls the refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser.
Evaporator or Cooling Coil. The cooling coil is located inside the air handler and is part of a finned tubing where liquid refrigerant is gauged and allowed to evaporate transforming from liquid to gas state. This transformation leads to heat absorption making the surface of the evaporator coil cool. As a result, it blows cool indoor air across the coiling coil.
Condenser. This air conditioning component located outside the house includes a condensing coil through which high-pressure refrigerant gas circulate. It is also where a blower blows air to cool the refrigerant gas to convert it back to its liquid form. This happens to release the heat from the refrigerant gas, including the heat collected from the house, to the air fanned by the blower.
Metering Device. This small tube sandwiched between the evaporator and condenser, measures how much refrigerant is conveyed from the condenser to the evaporator.
Evaporator Fan. This air handler blows air through the evaporator coil to condition it and circulates it across various parts of the house via the supply ducts.
Duct System. This system circulates conditioned air from the air handler into the supply ducts where air is taken and is brought back to the cooling system air handler.
Controls Unit. This unit is comprised of the various controls and features to operate the air conditioning system, such as electrical switches, the room thermostat, circuit breakers or fuses, air filters , and condensate handling system.
Understanding the various parts of the air conditioning system is important. A malfunctioning part will render the system useless or at least inefficient. Sometimes, despite the troubleshooting measures you take, it may still continue to malfunction if the measures you take do not address the right part that is problematic. You can also just ask the help of an HVAC specialist to resolve the problem. Consider this Lennox air conditioning system owner and DIY enthusiast who successfully resolved his air conditioning problems by finding out which particular component is acting up.
The fan of the outside unit of his Lennox 10ACB24-11P stops running after five minutes or so of switching the unit on and setting the thermostat to cool. The compressor, meanwhile, continues to function. So to troubleshoot this setback, he replaced the fan motor and cap, tidied up the contactors and, tested the old motor with the new cap, unhooked the compressor from power, and tested separate caps for the compressor and fan. Despite all these steps, the fan still discontinued running. After consulting with other DIY enthusiasts, and referring his case to a service technician, he discovered that it was the replacement motor that was the problem. It was a bad replacement that is why the fan still did not run despite the new motor. When replacing busted parts, make sure that it is in good running condition and the right replacement. In replacing a motor, make sure that you got the right size and has the same RPM as that of the original, not just the horse power. Using the wrong type of motor as replacement could overheat and cease operating because it could not take the added strain.
This is a common air conditioning problem not just among the Carrier systems. There are several possible causes for this snag, some of which may just be DIY stuff. So before calling an HVAC specialist, consider some of these troubleshooting pointers.
One of the things you can do to possibly solve this hitch is to inspect the filter located on the return air duct towards the right side near the air handler or furnace in the house. Replace it if it is damaged. Check also for debris that can obstruct the air flow on the coils on the exterior of your unit. Clean it out to allow airflow and heat exchange. Otherwise, your Carrier A/C will just keep on running without cooling your home or room, but the coil will, in due course, freeze up.
If the filter issue is not the problem, you can also check the breaker panel. Turn the breaker off for your AC unit, or of you can find a disconnect box outside near the unit, disconnect the plug inside. To recognize it, see if there is a ring on it with the “On” and “Off” label. Then clear the unit of any large debris. Afterwards, remove the water hose and clean the coils with a bristled brush and a pressure nozzle. Then allow the air conditioner to empty out and dry up for about 30 minutes prior to turning it on again. Do not forget to plug in the cord that you have unplugged earlier. After which, turn it on to test to see if it functions better. If it just runs but still does not cool, its freon level may be low or may be leaking. In this case, you will have to ask for the help of a HVAC specialist.
An air conditioning troubleshooting chart will serve as a useful quick guide for homeowners to follow procedural checks to be able to troubleshoot their units. It tabulates the various air conditioning problems that may possibly crop up, along with their respective possible causes and remedy neatly organized into columns for easy reference. A few of these charts can be printed.