John Burger Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.
Family Owned and Operated Since 1989

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(530) 673-3137

Heating & Cooling Troubleshooting

HVAC System Troubleshooting

How to troubleshoot your way out of a heating or cooling problem.

Just because your local Carrier® expert is a wonderful person doesn't necessarily mean you want to rearrange your day to have him or her out for a service visit. Instead, try these useful tips. They're just as easy as picking up the phone.

If you have an Infinity® system with remote access, you can set up your access to allow your trusted Carrier expert to diagnose potential problems right over the phone.

What to do if your air conditioner or heat pump isn't cooling properly.

System not running:
  • Check to make sure that your control or thermostat is set in cooling mode. Make sure that the temperature is set cooler than the current indoor temperature. If it isn't, your system won't know to provide cooling.
  • Make sure your outdoor cooling (condensing) unit is running. If not, check the circuit breakers in your home's circuit breaker box (or electrical panel). They should be in the ON position.
  • Check the main power switch for your outdoor unit, usually found within a few feet of the unit in a box mounted to the exterior of the house. Make sure it's in the ON position.
  • Ensure that the blower motor in your furnace or air handler (fan coil) is running. If the system is set for cooling, the blower motor should be running. If not, check to make sure your indoor unit switch is in the ON position.
System not cooling enough:
  • Check the filter for buildup. If you have one-inch-thick furnace filters, a once-a-month change is recommended. Two-inch-thick filters-and other high-capacity pleated filters-usually only need to be changed every other month, depending on the type. If you don't change it, the filter will eventually become so full, it will block the proper airflow and cause your outdoor air conditioner unit to shut down.
  • Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked. Return air grilles are larger and are located on a wall or the ceiling in newer homes. Older homes frequently have return air grilles on the floor.
  • Check all supply registers to make sure they are open and blowing air.

If you still don't feel that refreshing flow of cool air throughout your home or your system is under-delivering cooling, it's time to contact your local Carrier expert for service.

Other signs that indicate a service call may be in order:
  • Your system is struggling to keep up and seems to be turning itself on and off frequently.
  • Your indoor summer humidity levels seem unusually high.
  • You hear your indoor-unit fan coming on but the air from the registers isn't cool or the fan is turning on and off more frequently than usual. NOTE: If your system control has a "Constant ON" feature, you will not always feel warmth, even though air may be blowing.

Things to double-check if you have a gas-furnace issue.

System not running:
  • Check to make sure that your control or thermostat is set in the HEAT position. (You'd be surprised; often that's the problem.) Make sure that the temperature is set warmer than the current indoor temperature. If it isn't, your system won't know to provide heating.
  • Ensure that your furnace's power is on. Try turning the fan to ON using the fan switch on the control or thermostat to test for power to the furnace.
  • Check the circuit breakers in your home's circuit breaker box (electrical panel) to make sure they're in the ON position.
  • Check the furnace power switch to be sure it's in the ON position (it looks like a light switch on a gray box located at the furnace).
System not heating enough:
  • Check the filter for buildup. If you have one-inch thick furnace filters, a once-a-month change is recommended. Two-inch-thick filters-and other high-capacity pleated filters-usually only need to be changed every other month or less, depending on the type. If you don't change it, the filter will eventually become so full, it will block the proper airflow and strain your furnace.
  • Check all return air grilles to make sure they are not blocked. Return air grilles are larger and are located on a wall or the ceiling in newer homes. Older homes frequently have return air grilles on the floor.
  • Check all supply registers to make sure they are open and blowing air.

If you still don't feel that wonderful rush of warmth throughout your home, it's time to contact your local Carrier expert for service.

Other signs that may indicate a service call may be in order:
  • You hear your indoor-unit fan coming on but the air from the registers isn't warm or the fan is turning on and off more frequently than usual. NOTE: If your system control has a "Constant ON" feature, you will not always feel warmth, even though air may be blowing.

Before you request a service call for your ventilator:

  • Check the main power disconnect switch. Verify that the circuit breakers are ON or that fuses have not blown. If you must reset breakers or replace fuses, do so only once. Contact your Carrier® expert for assistance if the breakers trip or the fuses blow a second time.
  • Check for sufficient airflow. Check air filters for accumulations of large particles. Check for blocked exhaust-air grilles or ductwork. Keep grilles and ductwork open and unobstructed.

For Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV)

  • Check to see if the unit is calling for air exchange or if the unit is in defrost mode. When outdoor ambient temperature is below 23°F (-5°C), some degree of defrost mode is possible. Defrost time could be 5 to 20 minutes, depending on temperature and settings.

If your ERV still fails to operate properly, contact your Carrier expert-and be sure to have your model and serial numbers handy. With this information, the dealer will be able to correct any problems.

For Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV)

  • If the condensate fails to drain properly, check the grommet and drain tube for obstructions. Make sure that the condensate drain tube has a slight slope and is not kinked.

If your HRV still fails to operate properly, contact your Carrier® expert. Provide your model and serial number. With this information, the dealer will be able to correct any problems.