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Troubleshoot Your System

For all of you who like to "do-it-yourself," here is a brief listing of some common problems our customers encounter and some quick rememdies. This is followed by some easy maintenance and energy savings tips. However, we must stress that if you are not 100% sure about what you are doing, then you are better off leaving it to a professional.


Common Problems

"My system is forming ice outside and on the coil inside."

Ice is usually formed on a system due to a lack of airflow across the indoor coil or due to the refrigerant, or freon, being low. First, turn off your system and allow it to thaw. If the ice has formed inside, make sure you have plenty of towels down to absorb the water from the thawing ice. Next, check to make sure your air filters are clean. Restricted airflow can cause the system to ice up. If you do find that the air filters are dirty, replace the air filters and allow the system to thaw completely, then turn the system back on. Watch the system to see if it freezes up again. If it doesn't, then more than likely the problem was restricted air flow. If you find that the filters were clean or if it freezes up again after replacing the air filter, then the most likely culprit is low freon. Once again, turn your system off to allow it to thaw, and give us a call.

"During winter, my heat pump outside turns off, makes a "woosh" sound then restarts with a big puff of smoke."

Nothing is wrong with your outdoor unit. What appears to be smoke is actually steam, and this is normal operation. During winter, a heat pump will heat itself up to defrost the outdoor unit. This is called the defrost cycle and is needed to keep the outdoor unit from freezing up.

"Water is dripping from the air handler or furnace."

The most likely cause is a clogged drain line. The water comes from the air conditioning condensating water at the indoor unit in the summer, from a high-efficiency gas furnace condensating water during the winter, or from a humidifier running in the winter. The water drains out through a condensation drain line that is usually a white pvc pipe that either drains outside by itself or drains into a pump that pumps the water out. You can clean these lines out by connecting a "shop vac" to the drain line and vacumming out the line or you can blow compressed air through the line. Another good idea is to dilute some bleach with water and add it to the drain line. This keeps algea from forming in the drain line. If you need assitance, give us a call.

"My system will not come on, and the screen on my digital thermostat is blank."

Most digital thermostats get their power directly from your heating and cooling system; however, some thermostats have batteries. So, if your thermostat has batteries, check to make sure they are still good and replace if necessary. If your thermostat is powered by your system and the screen is blank, then your system has lost power. Check to make sure the breakers feeding your system have not been tripped. Also, if you have a drain pan under your furnace or air handler (the indoor unit), then make sure it hasn't filled up with water and tripped the float switch. If you have a condensation drain pump, make sure it is working. It also has a float switch in it that will turn power off to the system if tripped. There are also numerous internal issues within the system that could cause it to lose power. So, if a simple check of the areas mentioned above don't work, then give us a call.


Easy Maintenance and Energy Saving Tips
  • Replace or clean your air filters on a regular basis. Dirty filters are the number one cause of system failure.
  • Perform a visual inspection of your duct system and make sure it is airtight. Also, make sure the insulation on the duct system is intact.
  • Clean away debris from around your outside unit. The outside unit, which is called a condensing unit, needs free space around it to allow for proper air flow through the unit.
  • Perform a periodic system performance evaluation by inserting a digital thermometer into one of your supply vents and then again into your return air vent. The difference between the supply and return should be around 17 to 20 degrees F. If the difference is much less or much more, it could indicate a problem with your system.
  • Install a digital thermostat. Newer digital thermostats are more accurate and prevent systems from over running and wasting energy. For even more energy savings, consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  • Make sure you have your system serviced at least once a year, twice preferably. Having your system serviced will keep it at its peak operating efficiency and lessen the wear and tear on the system.

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