Facing These 4 Common A/C Issues? Give These DIY Remedies A Try

Your friendly neighborhood HVAC technician possesses the skills, training and equipment needed to tackle just about any air conditioning repair. But services like those don't come cheap, especially in the midst of summer temperatures.

As it turns out, you don't need a technician around to deal with every little problem plaguing your A/C unit. Many common issues experienced by the majority of central A/C systems can be dealt with through simple do-it-yourself maintenance and repair. The following offers a rundown of 4 common A/C issues and ways you can deal with them on your own.

Replacing The Thermostat Batteries

In the event that your thermostat's digital display goes dead or the thermostat itself becomes nonresponsive, chances are you're dealing with a dead battery. The majority of today's thermostats rely on battery power to store presets and provide alternative power in the event of a power outage.

In most cases, changing the battery is as simple as removing the thermostat from its wall mount and carefully removing the battery cover. You'll need a fresh set of AA, AAA or CR2032-type batteries, depending on the manufacturer. Once you've successfully change the battery, remount the thermostat on the wall and run the central A/C system through a complete cooling cycle to check for any problems.

Preventing Drainage Leaks

A large puddle of water surrounding your indoor A/C cabinet often signals a blocked condensate drain. It's not uncommon for mold, mildew and other debris to create drain clogs, allowing condensate from the evaporator coil to back-up and even overflow over the sides of the condensate pan.

First, remove any standing water you see on the floor as well as within the drainage pan. Next, break up the clog with a small diameter plumbing snake or by using a vacuum's suction to pull the clog out of the drain. Afterwards, use a mild detergent to clean the drain pan.

Once the clog is sufficiently under control, pour a 1/2-cup of white vinegar down the drain to neutralize any remaining bacteria or mold. You could use a 1/2-cup of bleach as an alternative, but only as long as the drain isn't made from PVC or ABS plastic.

Troubleshooting Cooling Issues

If your central A/C system is having trouble keeping things cool within your home, the problem may lie with a blocked condenser or evaporator coil. Both coils require unobstructed airflow to function properly; otherwise the A/C unit won't cool as effectively. For the condenser coil, a simple garden hose is all you'll need to remove debris and dirt from the coil's surface. Just make sure to turn the A/C system off (to prevent the outdoor cabinet fans from spinning) and remove all overgrown vegetation and debris surrounding the bottom of the cabinet.

Evaporator coils are a bit trickier to deal with when it comes to DIY work. To remove dust, carefully run a soft-brush vacuum attachment over the coil. Avoid placing firm pressure on the coil itself, as it can easily damage the delicate fins.

However, the preferred cleaning method involves the use of no-rinse foaming spray, designed to clean mildew, mold and other contaminants through foaming detergent action. As the name implies, there's no need to rinse the evaporator coil, as the foaming spray eventually breaks down and drains away, leaving behind a clean evaporator coil.

Troubleshooting Blower Issues

If the A/C system works, but you don't feel any air coming out of the vents, then chances are the drive belt connecting the blower to its motor has broken or come loose. Locate and remove the service panel covering the blower assembly and carefully examine the condition of the belt. If the belt appears frayed, cracked or damaged in any way, you should swap it with a brand-new replacement.

If your A/C system uses a direct drive blower system, then there may be a problem with the motor itself. This is a situation that you'll want a technician on hand to assess and repair, since handling these motors often comes with an electric shock or discharge warning for unwary handlers.