Is My AC Broken, or Do I Need to Replace My Filter?

It’s hot and muggy outside—so it’s just about the worst time for your air conditioner to break down. Why is this happening? It was working fine yesterday. Is your AC really broken, or do you just need to replace your filter?

Air conditioners require regular maintenance, including a filter change every 30 to 90 days. If you’ve been slacking off on your filter changes, that might be the reason your AC isn’t performing appropriately. Here are some things to troubleshoot before you call your local HVAC company for help:

  • Check the filter: First, check to see if your AC filter is particularly filthy—which can happen if you’ve forgotten to switch it out regularly, or you’ve been experiencing particularly bad air quality. Dirty, clogged filters will block the flow of cool, clean air completely. Your AC unit might be working fine otherwise. Change or wash the filter, then see if the air conditioner starts pushing out cold air again.
  • Make sure the unit is plugged in: If the unit doesn’t seem to be coming on at all, there may be a problem with the power supply. First, check to make sure it’s plugged in all the way. If it is, check the main electrical panel to see if the air conditioner has tripped a breaker. Reset the breaker and try again. If the breaker continues to trip, you may need to call an electrician for assistance.
  • Check the outdoor condenser: If the air conditioner is running, but it doesn’t seem to be pushing out enough cold air, take a look at the outdoor condenser. Is anything blocking the air intake? Weeds, debris, grass, toys, lawn furniture and more could be preventing airflow into the machine. Clean the outside and move anything that’s blocking the air. Then allow your air conditioner to run for a few hours. If you notice a difference, that means the problem is likely solved.
  • Look at the thermostat: Finally, check the thermostat. Is it on and set to “cool”? If not, you might just need to change the batteries. Turn the temperature down a few degrees and see if the air conditioner kicks on.

Why do I need to replace my AC air filter?

Once you’ve troubleshooted your air conditioner problems, you might forget to change your filter again—but that would be a big mistake. When you fail to replace your filter regularly, it can cause problems. Poor air quality, inefficiency (and the resulting high electricity bills), uneven cooling and malfunctions are all possible.

Your air conditioner might also start “short cycling,” which is when it kicks on and off repeatedly throughout the day. This is supposed to happen—at least on a limited basis—but when your filter is dirty, it can happen every few minutes. Change the filter and see if the problem is solved. If not, call your HVAC contractor for assistance.

When you need AC help, reach out to Ashley Brothers Heating & Cooling. We’d be glad to take a look at your AC and make sure it’s doing its job correctly!