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Even for the DIY enthusiast, air conditioner repairs can appear intimidating. While major repairs are best handled by a certified air-conditioning professional, here are a few simple repair and maintenance tips that homeowners can try on their own.

Check thermostat settings-- Make sure the switch on your thermostat is flipped to "COOL." It's tiny down there! A small nudge in the right direction could save you a lot of embarrassment when the repairman comes out to your house. You'll also want to make sure that the fan is set to "AUTO." This will ensure the fan only kicks on when heating or cooling is required.

Check your breaker box-- Double check that you haven't tripped an electrical breaker without noticing. Usually located in the basement, breakers can be tripped by a big storm or running too many electrical appliances at once. If you find a tripped breaker, turn it off, then back on, and this may solve your problem.

Change filters regularly-- Do not forget to change your heating and A/C filters on a regular basis, using the right size for your particular unit. Dirt and grime can quickly collect on filters, decreasing the efficiency of the unit and increasing your utility bills.

Has your AC iced over?-- If your AC has iced over, use your thermostat to turn it "OFF" and set your fan to the "ON" position. Depending on the outside temperature, ice should melt within six hours. Once the ice has melted, try turning the AC back on. If the air conditioner starts working, great; if it doesn't, you will need to call in a professional.

Coolant levels-- If your AC hasn't iced over, there may be a problem with coolant levels. Checking and replacing coolant levels is a job for a professional repairman. You will need to contact an authorized service company in order to have your coolant levels checked.

Outdoor maintenance-- Don't forget to keep up with yard work surrounding your unit outside! Rake fall leaves away from the unit. Brush any dirt and debris out of the fins. If there is debris you can't reach, use a vacuum brush attachment to suck it out. Give bushes or trees that have grown too close to the AC a trim in order to prevent branches from blocking airflow. In the winter, consider purchasing an AC cover to keep your unit in good shape for next year.

By Thom Michaels


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