**Please Note: HVAC professionals exist for a reason and if you, for any reason, feel something is too far outside of your comfort zone, please don’t hesitate to Contact an HVAC Expert.**
Austin, TX is the place we call home and it has stolen our hearts for many reasons, including its multi-genre live music and the eclectic array of characters, lifestyles and tacos that coexist here. However, all of these unique and enjoyable aspects come with a downside – the Texas summer heat!
If you’ve lived in Austin for any length of time, you know the Texas summer can be brutal! As the temperatures outside soar, your air conditioner will work overtime to keep up and that’s when problems can arise. That’s why we’ve put together the 7 easy DIY steps you can do to prevent and fix common HVAC problems. These are simple steps you can take before calling a certified technician.
Before we get started, let’s review the top signs your HVAC is broken.
Signs your HVAC is not working properly:
- Your air conditioner is blowing hot air.
- Your heater is blowing cold air.
- One room is always hotter/colder than other rooms.
- It feels muggy in your home (ie humidity issues).
- Your system is always running, but the indoor temperature remains relatively the same.
If your HVAC displays any of these issues, chances are it needs repairing, but don’t sweat! Our team here at EliteAustinAC have outlined a simple how-to guide for basic HVAC repairs that can get your air conditioner or heater fixed and back to producing comfortable air!
Homeowner’s Guide to HVAC Repairs: The 7 DIY Steps
Have you ever said to yourself, “Why won’t my air conditioner cool below 80?!” or “I don’t have a technical background, what types of DIY air conditioning repairs can I do?” Well, we’ve got good news, many air conditioning repairs can be done by you! Here are the 5 must-know HVAC tips every Austin homeowner needs to know:
1) IT MIGHT BE YOUR THERMOSTAT.
While this might seem like the most obvious place to start, but sometimes it is the simplest things that can go overlooked. The thermostat is the first line of energy usage defense in keeping the air in your home dehumidified and comfortable. There are a lot of specifics that can vary by brand of thermostat, but in general, if your thermostat is set to the wrong setting (ie ‘Heat’ in the summer) or needs new batteries, it can be sending false information to your HVAC unit and causing temperature and humidity problems.
Quick Thermostat Calibration Test: Set thermostat to 10 degrees warmer or cooler than indoor temperatures. Check back in an hour to see if temperature in your house has changed. Use another temperature gauge to test the air coming from your vents. If they don’t match, your thermostat may be out of calibration and simply needs to be recalibrated (see your thermostat manual for more information).
2) IS YOUR AIR FILTER DIRTY OR CLOGGED?
Replacing your HVAC’s filter regularly is the golden rule of HVAC maintenance, yet a majority of homeowners forget to do it. It depends on your unit, but we recommend you change your HVAC filters every 1-3 months. Otherwise, the pollen, dirt and debris will build up and eventually clog the air intake so your system has to work harder and use more energy to pull in air. Not only will this shorten the life of your unit, but it will increase the amount of energy used leading to increased utility bills and lower comfort performance.
Are you breathing the cleanest air? Yup, it’s Filter Friday again! If you haven’t changed your filter this month, go do so right now! We recommend changing your filter every 1-3 month(s). This is basic maintenance you can do that will keep your HVAC running longer and more efficiently. BONUS: Your lungs will also be better off! #onthejob #filterfriday #hvaclife #nofilter #eliteac #hvac #cleanair #maintenance #diy #homeowner #saveenergy #savemoney
A photo posted by Elite Heating & A/C (@eliteaustinac) on
Please Note: Your filter is not perfect and dust, dirt and debris can still get into your unit’s coil, causing it to lose efficiency over time. We recommend you get a professional coil cleaning every 2-4 years. Schedule a coil cleaning now!
3) CHECK YOUR CIRCUIT BREAKERS.
Note: If you don’t know where your circuit breaker is located, click here. Once you’ve located your circuit breaker, make sure the switch to your unit did not get turned ‘off.’ Sometimes the circuit gets overloaded and switches ‘off’ as a preventative measure to protect your unit. If you find the switch in the ‘off’ position, flip it back on. If this does not fix your problem, or if this is a common occurrence, please call a certified HVAC technician to come out and fix that ASAP, as this is a potential fire hazard issue.
4) CHECK YOUR CONDENSER.
WARNING: Before performing this check, be sure to turn the power to your unit off in two places: a) Turn the thermostat ‘off’ b) Turn the all the circuit breakers. It’s a 50/50 chance they’re marked properly so we advise to turn every circuit off.
Your condenser will be outside. If you have a ‘split’ unit, you have one section inside and the other outside. If you have a ‘package’ unit, the whole thing will be outside.
This is a multi-point inspection on your part including:
- Check to make sure that the unit is level on its concrete pad
- Make sure the unit is cleared of debris, tall grasses or anything else that could restrict air flow
- Remove any debris that’s fallen in. (DO NOT OPEN THE UNIT, this has the potential to damage your unit)
‘Whatever it takes Wednesday.’ While this isn’t our installation, we can appreciate their effort to make sure the outdoor HVAC unit is level. Checking the leveling of your unit is just one of the DIY repairs and maintenance you can do to keep your unit running longer. We do need to add, however, it is always preferable to level the concrete slab first BEFORE using rocks and other props. ??? #onthejob #whateverittakeswednesday #hvac #eliteac #acMaintenance #acRepair #atx #austintx #austin #austinsummer #diy #hvachacks #level #maintenance #homerepair #homeowner #needtoknow
5) CHECK YOUR COIL.
**Safety Reminder: Turn the power off on the circuit board AND the thermostat before doing this**
Use a brush and a hose to rinse the coil. By cleaning off the dirt and build up on these coils, their efficiency to transfer energy is increased, thus using less power, creating comfier indoor air and saving you on utility costs.
Here’s a good video series that shows what it takes to clean a coil. It can be slightly labor intensive. Please, remember you can call one of our professionals at any time to clean your coil.
[VIDEO SERIES] HVAC Dirty Evaporator Coil Removal, Cleaning and Reinstall in Air Conditioning Unit:
6) CHECK THE DRAINS AND PANS.
These can flood your home (or business!) if they are not cleaned out properly or with some frequency. The condensation from your A/C can get clogged from algae and other things that grow in wet dark places all winter. In some cases, these drains overflow and flood into walls and floors. That’s why we’ve made it standard process to clean the drains on every service call. When was the last time you got your A/C properly cleaned? #realtalk #HVAC #eliteac #hvacaustin #austinyouarehot #drains #flooding #maintenance #homeowner #atx #texas #summer #heat #hot #austin #condensation #realestate #didyouknow #nowyouknow #homeownership #home #homemaintenance
A photo posted by Elite Heating & A/C (@eliteaustinac) on
Here at Elite, we consider this basic maintenance and include it in all of our 33-point HVAC inspections. While this is included in our basic maintenance, it is a very common issue we see many Austin homeowners and businesses call us about.
First, but can have incredibly devastating effects if not properly maintained. The most common time of year that we see problems with the drains is in the late spring, early summer. The basic use of a drain is to give a place for the condensation caused by your unit’s cooling functions. This can be a problem when the drain gets clogged by algae or other dirt and build up that has now restricted the flow of pressure and can lead to rusting in the overflow pan and ultimately lead to flooding of your home.
7) CONNECT TECHNOLOGY – IOT, ‘SMARTHOME,’ ETC.
It’s no secret that technology has pervaded every aspect of our lives, from our smart phones to our power grids and medical devices. We are living in an age of data and it’s exciting to see all the emerging companies that are creating products revolving around contextualizing that data. While not all technological devices are DIY, the vast majority of them have a large DIY component.
One such company that we have recently been in discussions with is Curb Energy (See photo below). They have a device that gives their customers insights into their homes data usage in LIVE time with accompanying monthly reports and comparisons.
Curb is just one of many up and coming companies who are embracing the power of the internet and its connectivity across devices, sensors and networks. People are beginning to demand to know what’s happening inside their house and these companies providing contextual live data offer the ability to change and modify things before they cost you.
Want to know exactly how much energy your home is using in LIVE time? Check out our friends over at EnergyCURB who use a set of sensors and software to give you real-time data about your home which could mean catching problems BEFORE they turn into major repairs! Stay tuned because great partnerships are on the horizon! #onthejob @curbenergy #smarthome #homeautomation #austin #saveenergy #realtime #data #api #eliteac #knowyourhvac #hvac #hvacmaintenance