If you have a flair for DIY repairs, you’ve probably looked into some strategies for maximizing the efficiency of your air conditioner. This could involve some basic preventative maintenance or some more advanced repairs—but it’s important to make sure that you don’t get too carried away. While there are certainly many things you can do by yourself to ensure your HVAC is in good working order, there are some things that simply shouldn’t be tampered with unless you’re a certified professional. After all, HVAC technicians have to go through considerable training before earning the necessary qualifications to offer their services to paying customers, and there’s a good reason for that: air conditioners are complicated, and some things just aren’t safe to do without a pro around.
Wondering what you should leave to the professionals and what you can handle yourself? Don’t worry; we have you covered. Here are nine things you shouldn’t tackle without the help of a certified HVAC technician:
- Refrigerant leaks
Refrigerant is the fluid that your system uses to cool the air in your home. When it flows through your HVAC, it undergoes several transformations in state and changes temperature several times. At certain points in the cooling cycle, your refrigerant will take the form of gas—normally R-410A or sometimes Freon, which can be harmful to humans. The refrigerant isn’t particularly dangerous in small amounts, but too much exposure can be toxic. Avoid refrigerant poisoning by calling a certified technician to deal with any suspected leaks.
- Improper Sizing
If your cooling unit is the wrong size for your home, it can undergo a lot of stress and waste lots of power. Incorrect sizing isn’t something that happens over time; it’s the result of an improper installation. That said, installation is one of the most complicated things your HVAC technician will take care of during your working relationship with them, so if you’re going to uninstall or replace a unit, you’ll need to call a technician again. Fortunately, many companies will correct their mistakes if you point them out—then again, if one technician has performed a poor quality installation in your home, you might want to call someone else next time.
- Burning Smells
If you’re noticing an unpleasant aroma when your unit is running, you should turn your air conditioner off right away and call a technician. A burning smell could indicate electrical problems in your system, which could result in a fire breaking out if the unit continues to run.
- Broken Circuit Breakers
While resetting a tripped breaker is something you might be able to do by yourself, dealing with a broken circuit breaker is beyond the abilities of most HVAC owners without specialized knowledge. If you’ve reset the breaker but are still experiencing problems, the breaker itself may require service. The problem could also stem from a problem in your furnace or ducts, but a professional will be able to tell.
- Water Leaks
You might not think that something as innocuous as water would pose the kind of threat that merits bringing in a professional, but you would be wrong. Water leaks can cause electrical problems if left unchecked, and their sources can often be difficult to determine. They may also indicate other, more serious problems with a cooling unit, such as a broken heat pump or leaking drain lines. A service technician will be able to identify the source of leaking water and fix it before it becomes dangerous.
- Loud Noises
Do you hear a grinding noise when your air conditioner runs or loud percussive sounds at periodic intervals? This could indicate a broken motor, which will definitely require professional attention.
- Dirty Ducts
Ducts need to be cleaned out periodically to prevent buildup from occurring and interfering with your AC’s circulation. Messing around deep inside your ductwork isn’t necessarily dangerous, but you shouldn’t open up your ducts if you don’t have the skills to put them back together again. A technician is the only person who should be clearing blockages from deep inside your ductwork.
- A Broken Compressor
Your compressor is one of the most complicated and essential parts of your air conditioner. It’s also one of the most expensive to replace. If you suspect that you’re having compressor problems, you’re risking thousands of dollars by working on it yourself. Call a professional, and you run a much better chance of salvaging this expensive part.
Remember: there’s a limit to what you can do by yourself without specialized skills and knowledge. If you aren’t sure you can handle something, call a professional technician—it’s almost always cheaper in the long run. Contact us for more information.