HVAC Troubleshooting Guide: Tips For Every Homeowner

For most American homes, HVAC systems are indispensable components, silently working behind the scenes to provide comfort and a sense of well-being. Typically, we take our systems for granted until an HVAC problem arises. When that happens, emergency mode initiates to get the gears turning once again. 

Keeping these systems in top working order not only prevents these unexpected emergencies but also ensures that our environments remain welcoming and comfortable. 

Recognizing the central role HVAC plays in our daily lives underscores the importance of regular maintenance and quick, effective troubleshooting to keep our spaces habitable year-round.

5 HVAC troubleshooting tips 

If your air conditioning or heating system isn’t working properly, it can be a major, not to mention uncomfortable, inconvenience. Here are some things you can do to fix the situation and get your system pumping comfort back into your living space. Here are some troubleshooting steps you can take: 

Important note: This is meant to be a guide, and should not replace calling the professionals. HVAC systems can be dangerous, especially if you don’t know how to fix them. If your system is causing trouble, contact one of our trained experts and we’ll help troubleshoot and fix your system for you. 

#1. Change your air filter

In many homes and commercial properties, a clogged air filter is often the culprit behind uneven heating and cooling, and frequent breakdowns. This seemingly small issue can dramatically escalate operating costs, putting a strain on your air conditioner/furnace and wallet. 

The good news? A simple cleaning or filter change can significantly boost your system’s efficiency and functionality, saving you money and keeping your home comfortable and cozy. 

#2. Check your thermostat 

Many HVAC issues begin with a small but critical component: the thermostat. It’s your home’s command center for temperature control, effectively directing heat settings and air conditioning to your desired comfort level. Ensure it’s located away from direct sunlight, drafts, and any heat sources that could skew its readings. 

Sometimes, simply replacing old batteries or adjusting the thermostat settings can restore harmony to your system, helping it communicate with the rest of your HVAC for proper temperature control throughout your space.

#3. Check your breaker and power supply

If your unit isn’t responding, there could be an issue with the power supply—a crucial but often overlooked factor. Carefully check the breaker and main power supply to ensure it’s working. 

Electricity poses a significant risk, so approach with caution. If you’re unsure, it’s always safest to consult a professional to maintain both your system’s integrity and your personal safety.

#4. Look out for leaks (ductwork or refrigerant)

Leaks—whether in your ductwork or from the refrigerant—are tricky culprits that can cause your HVAC system to work overtime without the desired comfort. If your unit isn’t responding like it should, it can be a red flag. You may also notice strange noises and stranger utility bills even without a change in usage. 

Here are some signs to look out for: 

Signs of leaky ducts: 

  • Visible damage (holes, tears, disconnected joints) 
  • Drafts or inconsistent temperatures throughout your home 
  • Reduces air quality 
  • Whistling or rattling noises 

Signs of a refrigerant leak: 

  • Hissing or bubbling noises  
  • AC is running but not blowing cold air 
  • Ice on refrigerant lines 
  • Excessive indoor humidity 

Ductwork is safer to handle as it is just air. However, hard-to-reach leaks should be left to a professional technician. A refrigerant leak is a job for the pros; it requires specific handling to ensure safety and efficiency. When in doubt, it’s always best to call a professional to take a look. Handling these elements promptly ensures your system’s longevity and your peace of mind.

#5. Watch out for odd noises and strange smells 

Odd noises or smells emanating from your HVAC system can indicate minor issues or signal larger problems looming beneath the surface. 

Don’t ignore these signs, as they can escalate quickly, compromising the comfort of your rooms and potentially requiring emergency services. A thorough inspection by a trained technician is often the best way to ensure your system remains in optimal condition.

When to call a professional

When it comes to your unit’s performance and safety, know when to call a professional technician. If simple troubleshooting isn’t working or you’re dealing with a complex, intricate component, it’s better to play it safe and contact a pro for help. 

Fiddling with your unit could potentially void your warranty, leaving you in a more expensive situation than you started with. 

Expert technicians have specialized knowledge and tools that go beyond even the most seasoned DIY troubleshooters. Any signs of potential safety hazards like refrigerant or gas leaks, electric issues and anything else that could put your family and property in harm’s way warrants the eye of an experienced HVAC professional.

Regular maintenance tips 

To keep your system at the top of its game and avoid costly repairs, here are some practical tips: 

  • Inspect your furnace or AC systems in their off-season and prepare your units for the upcoming winter or summer weather. 
  • Regularly change your HVAC filters, ideally every 30-90 days. 
  • Maintain the area around your outdoor units, clearing it of any leaves, pollen, or debris that might affect functionality.
  • Keep vents clear of obstructions like furniture or drapes for better airflow. 
  • Note any unusual sounds or smells coming from your HVAC system; they could signal a need for professional attention.
  • Book an appointment with an HVAC technician to keep your unit up to speed. 

With these recommendations in your maintenance roster, you should be able to fend off issues before they happen. If you need professional maintenance, ask about our maintenance plan.

River Valley Air Conditioning: The best HVAC assistance in the tri-state area. 

If you live or own a building in Nevada or Arizona, you know that a reliable AC unit is paramount. The expert team at River Valley Air Conditioning is here to ensure that warmth in winter and cool in summer are your constants. We don’t just offer service; we provide our customers peace of mind for a reasonable price.  

From simple fixes and maintenance to complex installations, our friendly technicians are equipped to bring climate control back to your space. We’ve been in the business of bringing comfort back to homes in our community for over 50 years — specifically the Bullhead City, Laughlin, and Fort Mohave regions —  and we’re happy to help you next. 

For more information or to book an appointment, call us anytime. Whether it’s routine maintenance or an emergency service need, we’re here for you—because at River Valley, we believe everyone deserves comfort in their own home.