Can Air Conditioners Be Repaired?

If your A/C unit breaks down, but you don’t have the cash to pay for an expensive AC repair or replacement, there are some things you can try before throwing in the towel. Whether you own a window unit or a more extensive split-type A/C system, these tips might help get it back up and running.

The most common reason an air conditioner stops working is that it doesn’t have enough coolant to function correctly. If the machine needs more refrigerant, this is easy to fix yourself. All you need to buy is a refill kit and spray lubricant at the outdoor unit’s base and coils (the part that looks like a web of tubing). Typically, you can buy either R-22 or R134a kits. The former is for units that use the older coolant, while the latter is for newer units that require this kind of refrigerant.

You may have to remove some screws to access these coils, so keep track of which ones you can so they go back in the proper place later on. There should be more than one coil; make sure to spray each one with lubricant and inspect them closely—though they should be fine, dirt and debris might have gotten in them. Also, check the coils’ fins—these are metal slats visible when you look inside the unit from the bottom—for bends or breaks that keep coolant from circulating through them.

Once you’ve sprayed everything down, reattach all screws and follow any other instructions on your A/C model’s manual to refill the refrigerant tank with a new coolant supply. Most units will require a unique tool for this step, but if there is no mention of one in your owner’s manual, try using a garden hose nozzle instead. In either case, screw or snap everything back into place once it’s complete and make sure excess lubricant isn’t dripping out of the unit before turning it on. Again, this is a relatively easy and relatively common maintenance task.

In an A/C unit with a filter, imagine there’s a mesh wall surrounding each fan blade. If you slide your hand past these blades quickly, as the edges go by, they’ll create a vacuum that holds onto your skin slightly as you move your hand along its path until you pull away. That same thing happens when air moves through an air conditioner—as it passes through the filter screen, particles get caught in its netting so more air can pass through unimpeded. Over time though, debris up on this netting and

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