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HVAC Troubleshooting 101:Troubleshooting Tips for your Home HVAC to Help Save You Time and Money

Written by Alexandra Villalba

Anyone who lives in Texas knows how important a functioning HVAC system is. From endless heat spells and droughts to freezing rains and frigid air, the weather in the bluebonnet state gives credence to the saying that everything really is bigger- and more extreme – in Texas! That is why many Texans are reliant on their heating and cooling systems to help get them comfortably through the sweltering humidity of summer and the bitter cold of winter. HVAC’s work by drawing in air from your home so it can be heated or cooled, depending on your thermostat setting. The air is then passed through coil #1 for cold air or passed through a heating element or a heat exchanger to heat the air – based on whether your home has gas or electric heat.

Insulation factors that can effect the efficiency of your heating and cooling system include:

  • Attic
  • Roof
  • Walls
  • Windows

All of these areas have potential cracks or openings that allow for cool or hot air to escape, which makes your HVAC work even harder to maintain the set temperature. That is why it’s essential that homeowners have proper insulation throughout their homes, in order to prevent air from escaping and to keep your HVAC running smoothly.

But, if you’re anything like the rest of the world, your HVAC system may still have glitches when you least expect it, leaving you without air conditioning or heat in a time when you need it most!

Now you’re tasked with finding an A/C or heating repair service and paying to have them come to your home and inspect your HVAC. While you can always rely on the superior services and affordable costs from Stryker Heating & Cooling, you can also potentially save some time and money on a house-call by performing a few simple troubleshooting steps before you reach out to a professional. So next time your heater conks out or you’re A/C is on the fritz, try one – or all – of these easy troubleshooting tips that can be performed by a homeowner without fear of injury:

The Main Breaker Panel

In many cases, the cause of a heater or A/C malfunction can be a simple breaker trip. So if your HVAC stops working suddenly, you should first check to see if a breaker tripped. Breakers can be located in various areas of the home, from the garage to a bedroom or closet. Typically, the breaker will be labeled so you know what goes with what. If you can positively identify the breaker, examine and note its state.

Does it appear completely normal or is it not fully in the on position? Some fuses will have a clear panel where an orange tab will become evident when the breaker is tripped. Is there a fuse with orange?

In any of these instances, turn the breaker to the OFF position and then back to the ON position.

Return Filter/Air Restrictions

A dirty air filter can cause the system to shut down due to airflow restrictions. If your filter is dirty, replace it. Dirty Filters and restricted airflow can lead to freezing, which in turn can lead to water damage in your home and failure of many components. It is highly recommended that your air filter be replaced monthly (every 30 days) to ensure your heating and cooling system continues to work at an optimum level. There are various ways that the elements in your HVAC system can become dirty or clogged, which can lead to extensive – and expensive – damage to your home.

An unmaintained outdoor condenser coil can lead to part failure and inefficient operation of your HVAC. Be sure to always check the condition of your home’s outdoor condenser coil.

Additionally, your evaporator coil (Indoor coil) can become contaminated and clogged because of dirty filters. This can lead to major service issues and home damage, which is why it’s so important to maintain your HVAC system and change your air filters regularly.

Evidence of Water

Finally, check to see if there is any evidence of water around your air handler (the inside unit – also known as the furnace with gas systems). Many homes and businesses will have water safety devices installed to protect from flooding and water damage. These devices are called float switches. If your heating and cooling system are producing more water than it can expel, it will back up into a drain pan and the PVC drain line. When the water backs up, the float switch will shut down your heating and cooling equipment to prevent water damage. Improper drainage can cause your drain pan to rust which can result in future water damage. If your drain pan has any evidence of moisture, that is not normal or there is any kind of moisture that can mean one of two reasons:

A. There’s an airflow restructure causing your evaporator coil to freeze up which will produce a lot of water as it begins to melt.

B. The drain line (the PVC pipe coming off your air handler) is plugged. Over time, without proper maintenance, your heating and cooling system will produce a lot of dirt and grime that bleeds into your PVC drain line. Check to see that there are no clogs or excessive water around your HVAC system before calling the pros at Stryker.

If none of these troubleshooting measures work, then it’s time to call in a professional. But, before you do, be sure to prepare your HVAC and home for their arrival so that the process can be as quick and easy as possible. Complete these easy steps before calling Stryker to come over:

1. Know where all of the units in your heating and cooling system are located.

2. Make sure the system is accessible by the tech. If there is something blocking any of your systems, please move it out of the tech’s way for easier access.

3. If your system is in an attic or crawl space, please make it easily accessible.

4. Write down/take pictures of model numbers on all your equipment.

5. Message Stryker with what symptoms or problems you noticed leading up to failure.

6. Know how long ago your problems began.

7. Lock pets in a separate room so they don’t get in the way or get hurt.

8. Make sure there’s an adult (18 or over) home to legally allow entry to your home.

9. If you rent your home, your landlord must contact Stryker to ensure permission and confirm the method of payment.

10. If you see any part of the system is frozen, shut it off immediately. This will thaw it and make it ready for service when a technician arrives.

11. If possible, make available a file containing information on all prior services performed on your system. We recommend that our customers keep a folder with all sales, service information, and receipts.

By carrying out these troubleshooting tasks, homeowners can ensure that they have exhausted every possibility before they pay for a professional service call. That’s why you should always attempt to troubleshoot your HVAC system prior to contacting an HVAC repair service. At best, you save time and money by fixing the problem yourself and, at the very least, no one can say you didn’t try!

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