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Air-Conditioning Troubleshooting Checklist

by The Handyguys

in Audio Podcasts


In this episode of The Handyguys Podcast we discuss air-conditioning.

Lennox AC unitAir-conditioning is not something the typical handyguy or girl is familiar with. We turn it on and expect it to work as designed. What can we do if it doesn’t cool? Are there specific things to look for before calling in a pro to troubleshoot?

With high humidity and soaring temperatures this summer, the last thing you want to deal with is a broken air conditioner. But when an old air conditioning system fails, you will be faced with the tough and often expensive decision of whether to repair the existing system or purchase a new one.

Repairs on an existing unit may be the least expensive immediate option, but could cost you more in the long run since older systems tend to break down over and over and consume more energy and drive up cooling bills more than newer systems. However, there are times when simple repairs can prolong the life of an air conditioner, making immediate replacement a less sensible option.

Since the Handyguys are not experts in this area and we want to help you make an educated decision, consider the following tips from Bill Cunningham, a home cooling and energy efficiency expert with Lennox. Bill shares a great deal of wisdom and experience with residential central air-conditioning systems, regardless of who manufactures your system. He suggests homeowners ask the following three questions before making the decision whether to repair or replace:

  1. ACIs the air conditioner on its last leg? Excessive energy consumption and frequent repairs are the trademarks of a worn-out system. If the air conditioner is more than 10 years old, replacing the aging system with a new ENERGY STAR-qualified system can save time, money, and headaches – and keep you cooler and more comfortable in the long run. If the system is less than 10 years old, routine maintenance is almost always the way to go. In fact, an annual check-up can significantly increase the air conditioner’s performance and extend the life of the unit. Listen to the podcast for more information.
  2. Are your energy bills going up, up and up? While the cost of electricity is on the rise, an older, less efficient air conditioner may also be the culprit when it comes to high energy bills. By replacing an 8 SEER (seasonal energy efficiency rating) cooling system, which is much less efficient than the current SEER level allowed by law, with a 15 SEER system, homeowners can save approximately 47 percent on energy bills and up to $3,095 over a five-year period. Energy calculators, such as the one available on the Lennox site can help consumers compare the savings of different high-efficiency systems and determine whether to repair or replace an older unit. Listen to the podcast for more information.Thermometer
  3. Did your home feel like a steam room even before the air conditioner stopped working? A poorly operating air conditioner or one that is not properly sized for the home can contribute to excessive humidity. Leaky ductwork can also cause humidity problems. When making the decision to repair or replace, talk with a reputable home cooling contractor about the humidity problem to determine if you need to replace the existing system with one that is the right size for the home or if the issue can be resolved with repairs or duct sealing. Listen to the podcast for more information.

We also discuss with Bill a few things you can check yourself before calling a service tech.

  1. ThermostatDoes your thermostat use batteries? Many of the fancier thermostats use batteries. If your batteries are dead your system will not work.
  2. Did a breaker trip? Its an easy check and will save you the cost of a service call. Look for a tripped breaker if you have no fan or no cooling. You likely have separate breakers for each.
  3. Did someone turn it off? Systems usually have switches for killing the power before service. There will be one near your outside unit as well as near your inside unit. There may also be a switch at the top of your basement stairs or somewhere nearby.

Listen to the podcast for more information.

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Thanks to for sponsoring this post – For the outside parties and cold evenings patio heater hire will keep your guests warm.

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