Ask Our Experts: Troubleshooting Before Placing an Air Conditioning Service Call

August 4, 2013 | 2:21 pm

hvac technician greeting a homeownerQuestion for Our Experts:

“What can I do? I appreciate Tuckey’s great service technicians, but I am always afraid of placing a service call unnecessarily. What should I do before placing an A/C service call?  Are there any simple troubleshooting steps that I can perform as a layperson in order to rule out the easy stuff?

Our Experts’ Answer:

The Short Answer

We are happy to provide some tips, but we want to stress that we don’t expect our customers to be HVAC experts.  If you are uncomfortable with any of the following, just give us a call and we’ll handle everything!  If you are inclined to “do it yourself,” consider the following: First, determine whether either of your units (indoor and outdoor) are unexpectedly not running.  If they’re both running, check for frost or ice on the piping as described below.  If they are not running, check your circuit breakers.  If either of these simple fixes don’t address the issue, be sure to call us for a service visit.  Additionally, always remember that proper system maintenance can prevent many A/C issues.  You can clean your unit, change filters, and make sure that your thermostat is set correctly, as described below.  For routine system maintenance, be sure to sign up for a simple, inexpensive preventive maintenance (PM) program from Tuckey Mechanical Services.  You can learn more or contact us at,, or 717-249-1535.

The Detailed Answer

– We can provide some guidance on simple troubleshooting steps to perform before placing a service call.  Even if these steps don’t solve the problem, it will be a great help to our dispatchers and service technicians if you have some preliminary troubleshooting information on-hand before you make a service call.  However, we’d like to stress that we don’t expect any of our customers to know the ins-and-outs of HVAC systems.  If any of the following is unfamiliar or seems like a hassle, just give us a call and we’ll handle everything!  Now on to the good stuff…

First, determine what your unit is doing or not doing. Is the indoor fan running (can you hear it turn on and off periodically or running all the time)? Can you feel air coming out of the vents in each room? Is the outdoor unit running (can you hear it turn on and off periodically outside)?


If both indoor and outdoor units are running, then check to see if there is any frost or ice on the large copper pipe coming from the inside unit.  If you do spot frost or ice, then turn off your unit and replace the air filter.  After replacing the air filter, turn the fan on via your thermostat and let the fan continuously run for about an hour. Be sure to keep an eye on the unit – if you spotted ice or frost earlier, then there may be some water leakage as it thaws! Just check on it about every 15 minutes so as to avoid water damage to surrounding structures.  After the fan has run for an hour, turn your unit back onto cooling and check to see if there is cool air coming from the vents.  This may solve the problem.

If you perform the steps above and the unit works for awhile only to quit again due to freeze-up, you will need to place a service call. This indicates a more in-depth problem (perhaps with the Freon charge or with a component part). If you continue to run your unit in this condition, you will risk a serious failure!  Be sure to call Tuckey Mechanical Services at 717-249-1535 right away to schedule a visit from an expert service technician.


If either the outside unit or inside unit are not running then you should check your circuit breakers to see if there is a tripped breaker. If there is a tripped breaker, reset the breaker and then check to see if your unit is running and cold air is coming from the vents.  If the breaker trips again (either right away or after the unit has been running for a period of time), then you will need to place a service call.


  •  One of the best things you can do for your air conditioner is to keep it clean.  Check your outside unit regularly for debris such as grass clippings or vegetation growing over it. If it is covered with grass or other debris, turn off the power and give it a good spray on the coils with your hose to wash it off (this unit is exposed to the elements every day, so washing the coils down with water will not hurt it). When done, restore power to the unit and start it back up.
  • Check and/or change your air filter at least once every three months. This will keep the indoor unit “breathing” and operating much more efficiently throughout the year.
  • Be sure to check your thermostat settings. If you are trying to cool your home, the system must be in the cooling mode and the temperature needs to be set lower than the registered room temperature!  This may seem elementary to some users, but many A/C system issues may be avoided if the thermostat is set properly.
  • As a general rule, do not set an A/C system to cool below 68 degrees Fahrenheit!  Remember – you’re operating an air conditioning system, not a refrigerator.  To save money and reduce wear and tear on the system, set the A/C to the low 70’s during the summer.  This way, the unit doesn’t have to put extra energy into cooling that additional 5 degrees to get to 68 or below.  Generally, a nice 72 degrees is still a comfortable indoor temperature for most people.

Sound like a full-time job?  That’s why we’re here to help. Not only do we provide general repair and emergency service for air conditioners across South Central PA, but we also offer comprehensive preventive maintenance (PM) agreements.  For just a few dollars a month, our experienced service team will make sure that your home’s HVAC systems are in tip-top shape year-round.  We’ll do all the required maintenance and we’ll guarantee preferred scheduling and pricing on certain parts and services.  To place a service call or sign-up for a preventive maintenance agreement, call Tuckey Mechanical Services today at 717-249-1535.  You can also visit us online at

DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a reference guide only. A qualified, professional contractor like the Tuckey Companies should handle all interior design, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, remodeling, metal fabrication, and restoration projects. Information presented here is of a general nature that may not be applicable in all situations. Tips, articles, and accompanying information do not represent an official recommendation of the Tuckey Companies.

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