Did you know that extreme heat is so dangerous it claims more than a hundred lives in the US each year? That makes it deadlier than many other weather hazards, such as floods or tornadoes.
There’s also extreme cold, which can cause illnesses including hypothermia and chilblains. It can even worsen pre-existing health woes, like heart and lung conditions.
Fortunately, your HVAC system can help protect you from such hazards. After all, it regulates your home’s indoor climate, keeping it warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
However, HVAC problems can render your equipment useless when you need it the most. Your home may not offer much of a reprieve against extreme weather if that happens.
The good news is that you can handle some HVAC issues before calling the pros. We’ll tell you what they are and what to do about them below, so keep reading.
1. Not Powering at All
If your home HVAC system doesn’t turn on or respond to any commands, its circuit breakers may have tripped. That tripping may have resulted from an overcurrent, a short-circuit, or a power surge.
Luckily, it’s easy to reset a circuit breaker; you only have to slide the switch to the ON position.
Note that your heater and air conditioner have separate, dedicated circuit breakers. You can find both in your main service panel. You may also have another circuit breaker box outside if your HVAC system has an outdoor unit.
If your furnace still doesn’t turn on, check its disconnect switch. It’s a device that cuts off power to the equipment without switching off its circuit breaker. You can find this near the heating system, usually mounted on its side or a nearby wall.
Because a disconnect switch looks like a light switch, it’s easy to mistake for one. Thus, someone in your household may have turned it off, thinking it can help save energy. In that case, flick it back on to allow power to flow into your furnace.
2. Inadequate Cooling or Heating
Filthy air filters give rise to one of the most common HVAC issues: airflow obstruction. So, if yours have excessive debris build-up, you may feel as if your system isn’t producing enough warm or cool air.
You can confirm if your air filter is the culprit by retrieving it inside or beside the indoor air handler. You may also have several air filters, such as if you have a return register in every room in your house. In that case, a filter may be behind each air vent.
If there are severe blockages in the air filter, wash or replace them immediately.
If that doesn’t help, SoCal Airflow Pros HVAC experts recommend calling certified technicians. Using their specialized tools, they can come up with an accurate diagnosis of the problem. They can then advise you on the most appropriate HVAC repairs that can help bring your system back to life.
3. Inconsistencies Specific to Cooling
First, ensure your thermostat is on COOL mode and not FAN/ON. The latter means the fan is constantly running and blowing air that the unit hasn’t cooled yet. By setting it to COOL, your AC only runs the fan while cooling the air.
If it’s not your thermostat, your AC woes may be due to a dirty or even frozen evaporator coil. It’s the part of your cooling system responsible for absorbing heat and moisture from the air. It then cools the air before the fan circulates it throughout your home.
So, filth or ice on the evaporator coil reduces or eliminates contact with warm, damp air. If it doesn’t have enough air to cool, it can’t do its job of lowering your home’s indoor temperature.
You might find it hard to access the evaporator coil, though, as it sits deep inside the system. If you’d rather not mess with your AC, your best bet is to call a professional for assistance.
4. No Heating
If your gas furnace isn’t warming your home, its pilot light or burner flame may have gone out. In that case, your heater isn’t combusting at all, so it can’t heat your home, either.
You can try relighting the pilot light or burner, but make sure to turn off the pilot knob first. Then, wait for about five minutes to allow the gas to dissipate. Then, switch it back to the “Pilot” position and press the Reset button, which should be close to the knob.
Keep holding the Reset button down until the pilot light comes back on. Once it does, release the button and monitor the temperature in your home.
If the pilot light or burner turns off again, try relighting it. If it goes out again, you may already have a broken HVAC unit, so better call the pros.
5. Heating Instead of Cooling
If you have a reverse cycle HVAC system, check that your thermostat isn’t in HEAT mode. If it is, set it back to COOL.
If it’s in COOL mode, but it feels like it’s blowing warm air, you may have a clogged outdoor unit.
The outdoor unit, also known as the condenser unit, pulls hot air inside your home and expels it outside. However, it’s at the mercy of dirt, dust, foliage, and even pests since it’s outdoors.
Unfortunately, debris build-up restricts the condenser unit from doing its job. That may result in hot air flowing back into your home, making it feel like your AC is blowing hot instead of cold air.
You can clean the outdoor unit yourself by removing debris in and around it.
If there’s too much build-up, it might be best to call the pros, as the metal fins it contains are fragile. They can easily bend, and if that happens, the damage can further restrict airflow.
Fix Those HVAC Problems Now
As you can see, several HVAC problems trace back to incorrect thermostat settings. So, if your heater or air conditioner acts up, the thermostat is one of the first things to inspect. Don’t forget to check the circuit breakers and air filters, as they may also be the culprit.
If your HVAC system is still on the fritz after following our tips, it’s time to call a pro.
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