How to Troubleshoot HVAC Problems

How to Troubleshoot HVAC Problems

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We depend on our HVAC systems to keep us comfortable all year round. Admittedly, we tend to take them for granted until they stop working. Fortunately, most HVAC issues are easy to spot, if we’re paying attention. The best way to avoid dealing with a costly system emergency is catching smaller issues before they turn into major ones. There are a few telltale signs to look out for that can indicate your HVAC might need some attention. These basic issues don’t require special equipment or certifications to identify, and some can be fixed without calling in the professionals. 

Troubleshooting your HVAC unit can extend the life of your system, and save you big money long term. 

Dirty Filters

No matter what type of system you have, the condition of your filters has a profound effect on how well your HVAC works. Clean filters allow air to circulate freely, cooling and heating your home more quickly as the unit doesn’t work any harder than it should. If your filter is noticeably gray in color, or you can see dirt or dust buildup on the surface, it’s definitely overdue for a replacement. Additionally, your home may be dustier than normal, your heating or cooling cycles might run longer than usual, or your energy bill may be unusually high. 

Filters are meant to be used for anywhere from one to six months, depending on the filter. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, the first thing you should do is check and/or replace your filters. 

Thermostat Settings

It may sound silly or obvious, but many HVAC problems are actually related to your thermostat settings. If you’re having trouble with your system, it’s worth looking at your thermostat. Many modern thermostats are controlled digitally to allow for personalized configurations, and many smart systems let you control your settings remotely. To make sure yours is set properly, first make sure the thermostat is set to “auto” whether you’re trying to heat or cool your home. If you’re having trouble with heat or cooling, test the opposite mode. If neither work, the problem could be thermostat related. 

Next, check your display for the word “hold”. This setting overrides all of your programmed settings. If you see the word on the screen, press the “hold” button to run your program settings. If none of these get your system running smoothly again, the issue may be a different component. 

Coil Issues

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Evaporator coils absorb heat from your home and work in conjunction with your thermostat to deliver cool air. There are a couple issues that develop with your coils that can decrease their effectiveness, eventually causing a system failure and costing you more money. Fortunately, you can check for signs of coil issues and have them replaced before things get serious. First, check for warm air coming from your vents when you have your system set to cool. If this problem isn’t a thermostat issue, a failed coil is the most common suspect. 

Look for signs of water leakage near your unit. Leaks often come from an evaporator coil as the result of corrosion or acid build up.  Filters are DIY. Having other components replaced should be left to professionals, but you’re saving yourself paying for an inspection diagnosing it yourself. 

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