HVAC Troubleshooting and Solutions

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Last updated: 
March 15, 2024

No one doubts the reliability of HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning), but, like any other household piece of equipment, they are not immortal. Since they are bound to break down every now and then, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and know a few things about heating or cooling units. Most of the times, your answer lies in the simplest solution out there. If you want to avoid huge bills for hiring professional experts who will fix the issue within five minutes, you can roll up your sleeves and get ready for some DIY.

To make sure you prevent the following HVAC electrical troubleshooting, take care of your air conditioning, furnace and boiler all year round, whether you are actively using the units on a daily basis or they are taking a break for the summer. You don’t need a simulator software to pinpoint most troubleshooting HVAC. Generally, homeowners can tackle the problems themselves merely by consulting a HVAC troubleshooting chart and ruling out worse causes. This way, HVAC owners not only save money in the long run but they also work on improving the units’ longevity.

HVAC Troubleshooting and Solutions

Blown Fuses

Learn from the experts. The first thing a professional service expert will check are any tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. Since the fuses are used to prevent overheating, they are bound to react in time order to avoid further damage to the control panel. If your heating or cooling system uses its individual power panel, check that one for tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. However, if this is a recurrent problem, there might actually not be anything wrong with your HVAC unit, but rather with the circuit breaker panel. In this case, check with an electrician who will help you with your problem.

Frozen heat pump

There is no escaping the heat pump’s coil freezing during winter months. But when the unit gets completely covered in ice, that’s a sign something is not right. Heat pumps are equipped with a defrost cycle, which is in charge of defrosting the ice coils, ensuring the unit runs smoothly. When the coils are entirely frozen, the refrigerant and the cold air can’t undergo the transfer. A unit that is entirely iced-up will be damaged and rendered useless. Depending on the model of your heat pump, the unit will have its own method to start up the defrosting mode. If the heat pump fails to automatically start the defrosting cycle and you notice the layer of ice is only spreading as days go by, there could be a restriction somewhere. There could also be something wrong with the thermostat, the heat pump’s sensor, or the outdoor fan motor could have an issue. None of these problems can be fixed by the homeowner, so you’d be better off calling in a professional service person.

Humidifier not working

If you’ve never used a humidifier, you’re probably a stranger to its benefits. This tool maintains the optimal levels of humidity within your house, keeping sore throats, itchy eyes and dry skin at bay. Most of the times, the humidifier can be fixed by the homeowner. Simple solutions like opening a water valve could fix your issue without making you resort to looking for answers in a HVAC troubleshooting guide. Humidifiers are not high maintenance systems, but they need to be cleaned out regularly. A clogged filter could be restricting the water vapors, making your humidifier useless. If the panel is clean, other causes could be at play here, including a clogged orifice or water valve, a bad motor, faulty wiring or a defective solenoid valve. Reach out to an expert who will know how to make your humidifier work properly again.

HVAC Troubleshooting

Steam rising from an outdoor unit

This is a common complaint at the start of every heating season. The steam that rises from the unit can be alarming, but, in fact, it’s a sign that everything is working properly. You can rest assured the motor is not burning up and the compressor is still running. The steam only means that the unit is running a defrosting setting, which will keep icicles away from its essential parts like the blower motor. The defrost mode sets in automatically, but it shouldn’t go on forever. If you notice steam coming out of your outdoor unit on a daily basis, this could point towards a different problem. You could be dealing with a faulty defrost control or thermostat or even a restriction. The only things the homeowners could fix is a blocked coil, which is easy to clear out of any debris.

Air vents not giving off enough airflow

If you feel like there is less airflow than it used to be in one or more rooms within your home, hold on before calling up a pro. A dirty cleaner is the common problem, but the good news is that you can change or clean the filter yourself. The second most common issue is that your air vents are blocked by something or even entirely closed off. You can check to see if the vents are open, making sure to look at the return vents as well. Another thing you should look at are the dampers, to make sure they are open and rule them out as the main cause. If none of these are causing the poor airflow, you might need a professional fix. Causes that homeowners couldn’t tackle on their own are frozen coils that restrict airflow, a defective blower motor, or an incorrectly installed ductwork. An HVAC blower motor troubleshooting expert will be able to zero in on the problem and fix it for you.

Indoor unit leak

The first reaction is to panic when you see water leaking out of your furnace or boiler. While this does indeed signal an issue, it could be something minor, easily fixed by the homeowner. Sometimes, all you have to do is tighten up the joints to prevent any dripping. The leak you notice might also be a combination of condensation and a dirty coil. Indoor coils are not immune from freezing. Once the ice starts melting, all the water will start dripping on the floor. If this isn’t happening during winter time, it could indicate a different problem. Sometimes, the fixes are a piece of cake, but the rest of the time, you’ll need to call up a specialist. They will deal with blocked drains or pump tubing, defective coils, broken joints or a leaking humidifier.

Hot water quickly runs out 

It’s very unpleasant and frustrating when your boiler runs out of hot water while you’re in the middle of a bath. Depending on the heating system you use, the causes could vary. You could be dealing with a faulty element if you have an electric heater. An indirect heater running out of hot water could point towards a faulty thermostat or a defective circulator. A bad thermostat is the most common problem and the problem is easy to check by the homeowner. However, if you can’t locate the issue, ask for a plumber’s advice before the malfunction starts affecting other parts of the hot water unit.

HVAC Troubleshooting and Solutions

No air conditioning

This is bound to happen to anyone and it’s one of the most common complaints during summer time. Before picking up the phone to schedule a check-up, there are some things you can go over on your own in order to rule out the most obvious issues. You should first head over to the thermostat and make sure it’s set on the “cooling” setting. You could also try turning it up or down by 5 degrees to see if you notice any change in the air conditioning unit. Next, it’s on to the power panel and breaker circuits. If nothing is wrong with these, you can try resetting your outdoor unit by pushing the red button on the side. You should also check the pump on the indoor unit, which sometimes turns off everything if it overfills. Turning it back on will fix the problem. If none of these suggestion revive your air conditioning, you might be facing a more serious problem, such as faulty compressor valves, a defective metering device or a malfunctioning reversing valve. In this case, look for a HVAC compressor troubleshooting expert for an accurate diagnosis and fix.

You seldom need to know what a capacitor or a transformer is in order to pinpoint the issue and fix it with a simple step. As long as you know where to find your power panel and how to reset a tripped circuit breaker, you could be saving yourself a lot of money. If you need more help, look for tips from books or YouTube videos. There is no shortage of DIY tutorials out there that will guide you through the process of cleaning out or replacing a filter step by step. If you feel overwhelmed by HVAC troubleshooting, don’t postpone scheduling a service call. By taking care of your heating and cooling units, you only do yourself the favor of maintaining a cozy environment in your house and avoiding potential future expenses.

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