What Should You Do If Your HVAC System Stops Working in the Dead of Summer or Peak of Winter?
Picture this: It's the hottest day of the year and you're sitting inside with your air conditioning on full blast while enjoying a little bit of television (as the sun bakes everything it touches). Suddenly—and tragically—the hum of your air conditioner goes quiet. What do you do? For many, this uncomfortable situation (or a similar one that takes place with your heater on the coldest day of the winter) can be a nightmare, especially given temperature extremes. Fortunately, Brandon Martin, the president of B Cool Heating and Air Conditioning, has a few tips: Here's what you can do when your heating or air conditioning goes on the fritz at the worst possible time.
If your air conditioning system stops working, Martin says the first step is to check the batteries in your thermostat; ensure they haven't died. "Then, check the breaker to your AC unit to make sure that hasn't tripped," he says, adding that you should also check your filter (it can become dirty and cause your unit to stop). If none of these items seem to be the problem, it's time call in a professional. While you wait for help to arrive, Martin says there are a few things you can do to keep the air cool inside your house. "Even if your AC goes out, you may still be able to turn your fan on. This will circulate the air and keep it moving in your home," he says. Closing your curtains will also help you beat the heat, he adds.
Common DIY Pitfalls
There are plenty of handy homeowners who might try and tackle a faulty AC unit on their own, but Martin notes that there are a few parts you should avoid trying to wrangle solo. "If your unit freezes up, people will see ice on their unit and try to start picking away at it," he says, adding that this often leads to damage. Instead, he suggests letting the ice thaw naturally before giving it a restart.
Winter Weather Woes
If, on the other hand, your heating unit stops working, try following similar steps: check your thermostat's batteries, look in on the breaker, and take a look at the filter. If everything appears to be in order, then make sure your gas is on, notes Martin. "If you notice any odors or smell a burnt or smoky scent, you will want to call the utility company or fire department to check for a gas leak," he warns. Your next step? Get that professional in there. Fortunately, Martin has a few suggestions for keeping comfortable while you wait. "Using a space heater safely in the room you are in will be your best bet to staying warm," he says. "Remember to let faucets drip since the area around pipes can freeze."
Unfortunately, there's no surefire way to keep your HVAC system from conking out when you need it most, but there is one thing you can do to reduce the chances of a system failure, says Martin: Stay on top of routine maintenance. "Get annual maintenance on your unit," he shares, adding that a regular maintenance visit is much more cost effective than a repair visit. "An HVAC technician can see weak components before they go bad."