Which AC Repairs Can You DIY—And Which Should Be Left To The Professionals?

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If your air conditioner is leaking, freezing, or cycling on and off too frequently, you may be anxious at the prospect of calling an AC repair service. But while there are some repairs that can be easily (and inexpensively) performed by the enterprising DIY-er, there are other fixes that are only appropriate for a licensed professional. Read on for some troubleshooting tips and tricks, as well as a few situations in which you'll want to call an AC repair service sooner rather than later. 

What AC Repairs Can You Do Yourself?

Before you call a repair company, it's usually worthwhile to attempt to troubleshoot the issue and narrow down the potential cause(s). Even if it's not something you'll be able to fix on your own, having an idea of what the problem is and where it's coming from can ensure that the repair technician who comes to your house knows exactly what to look for. 

First, identify the issue. Is your AC freezing, or is the air coming through the vents lukewarm? Either of these issues can be caused by a refrigerant leak. Is your AC cycling on and off constantly without maintaining the thermostat temperature? It may be a thermostat problem or an issue with the blower motor. Are there exposed wires, debris, or pools of water in the unit itself? A good cleaning may be all that's needed to restore it to working condition.

Some issues a homeowner can tackle without much stress include cleaning and changing the air filter (improving airflow and reducing the risk of overloading the AC motor), draining excess condensation from the overflow pan (which will prevent the coils from becoming submerged), and examining your ductwork to ensure that no blocks or clogs are preventing fresh air from getting to the AC unit. In some cases, replacing your thermostat may be an instant fix; if your thermostat isn't detecting the correct temperature or transmitting this information to the AC unit, it can cause the unit to kick on and off too frequently or not frequently enough.

Absent one of these quick fixes, though, your best bet is to contact a professional to give your unit a good once-over and determine what repairs (or replacements) may be necessary. 

What Repairs Can (Or Should) Only Be Done By Professionals?

There are a few things that a professional AC repair technician should be able to handle for you. These include the following: 

  1. Diagnosing a refrigerant leak and/or adding new refrigerant. AC refrigerant isn't something that's available over the counter, and attempting to add refrigerant yourself—especially if it's not the same type that's already in your AC—can be a disaster. Instead, having a repair technician figure out where your leak is coming from and repair it, perhaps adding some refrigerant if the levels are a bit low, is a quick way to get your AC back into working condition. (Although some refrigerant leaks aren't serious enough to require repair immediately, if you find yourself adding new refrigerant more than once every few years, it's both cost-effective and environmentally friendly to pursue repair or replacement.)
  2. Replacing coils or components. Although there aren't many complicated components to an AC, some of them—like the coils—may be easily damaged during installation. In some cases, this damage isn't easily apparent, but it can cause further harm to your AC over time. Someone who works with AC coils on a daily basis is far better equipped than the average homeowner to remove damaged coils and install new ones.

By sticking to these guidelines—troubleshoot first, isolate issues suitable for DIY, and enlist professionals for the rest—you should be all set for a summer of trouble-free AC service. Call a company like Reading Heating & Air Conditioning Inc for more information.