What to Do When Your HVAC System Stops Working

It’s difficult to be productive in an office or feel comfortable at home if your indoor climate control is not working. A hot day can seem unbearable if your air conditioning stops working while a snowy day can make you feel miserable if you don’t have enough heat.

If your HVAC system is not working, there are three practical steps that you can take: You can try and fix it yourself, call up a heating and air conditioning company, or hire an HVAC repair contractor. You don’t have to take all three steps. Try one step at a time. If the first one doesn’t work, then go on to the next. One of them will resolve the problem.

Step #1:  Fix it yourself

Although you might not know the first thing about heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technology other than how to turn it on and off, the problem may not be as bad as you think. There may be some simple steps that you can take to resolve the problem quickly and get wonderful cool or warm air circulating in your home or office again.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Read your HVAC manual — there may be some simple troubleshooting steps that you can take to fix the problem.
  • If your air conditioning does not turn on, check your unit on the outside to see if the condenser is working. It’s also possible that the plug has gotten loose, a circuit breaker has tripped, or someone in your home or office has incorrectly set the thermostat. If none of these appear to be the problem, then lower your thermostat by 10 degrees. Sometimes this is all you have to do to get your unit to work again.
  • If your HVAC system runs but is not cooling or heating the air, it’s possible something has blocked the air filter. Check the outside unit. Weeds or leaves could be blocking air circulation. Removing them may be all you need to do to fix things. Also, check to see if the air filter is clean. Dust or pet hair can block it. If you are not sure if it’s dirty, then pull out the filter and take it outside. If you can’t see through it, then it’s dirty. It might be easier to buy a new one rather than try to clean it.

Step #2: Contact an HVAC company.

If these do-it-yourself steps don’t work, then contact an HVAC company. They will be happy to help you in any way they can. If they can’t help you over the phone by suggesting a few things to try or can’t analyze the problem over the phone, then they will suggest a site visit. An estimator will schedule a time when you are at home and can come over to inspect it. The estimator will do their best to meet your needs and even advise you on whether your unit conforms to the current codes. Sometimes all you may need to get your HVAC system running again are some repairs. Conversely, the unit might have several serious problems and it would be cheaper to replace it.

Step #3: Hire an HVAC repair contractor

Another way to get help is to do a Google search for an HVAC repair contractor, a service professional who understands how to repair or service your HVAC system.

After tinkering around with your HVAC system and running several tests, the contractor will be able to tell you what repairs the unit needs. You’ll then get a quote and might receive a discount as a first-time customer. If the quote appears unreasonably high, don’t give up. Since the expertise and fees of HVAC repair contractors vary, shop around for the right person. Make a few more phone calls and create a shortlist of HVAC repair contractors who appear to have the knowledge and experience you need and whose fees are within your budget.

Although you might feel overwhelmed about what to do if your HVAC system breaks down, is either not working at all or is not working properly, one of these steps will put the problem behind you.