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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Cooling and Ventilation Systems Category: Central Air Conditioners


Central air conditioner does not cool.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Screwdriver (or other fastening device as determined by the manufacturer's use of fasteners)

  • Scrubber brush

  • Vacuum

  • Dampened cloth/rag

  • Garden hose (to be used outside for cleaning purposes)

  • Filter replacement

  • Motor lubricant oil (see manufacturer's instruction manual)

  • Manufacturer's instruction manual for the central air conditioner



If your central air conditioner does not blow cool air, you may need a licensed AC technician to recharge it with refrigerant (aka, Freon® by DuPont).  However, there may be other causes of an air conditioner's failure to blow cool air that you may resolve on your own

If your central air conditioner does not blow cool air, do the following:

Caution: When dealing with any device that requires electrical power, make sure you take precautions before you work on it, including disconnecting the power.

  1. Upon having disconnected the power, using a screwdriver or other fastening device that is appropriate, unscrew/unfasten and remove the grille cover, any metal covering, including the fan, to get better access to the air conditioner condenser's coils and fins of the outside unit.

  2. Use a vacuum and an appropriate soft-brush, cleaning wand thereof to gently vacuum up the debris found inside of the outdoor unit of the air conditioner and on its coils and fins, being careful not to bend these out of shape.

  3. Use a garden hose, with moderate water pressures, to spray the air conditioner fins from the inside out by positioning the nozzle of the water hose inside of the air conditioner and aiming it at the fins towards the outside.

  4. Then, using a dampened cloth/rag, wipe away any excess debris found inside the air conditioner that is within reach, including any debris, making sure the air conditioner drains remain open. Use a scrubber brush to brush away debris when necessary, but be careful in using it.

  5. Allow the air conditioner to dry, and during this time, and after consulting your manufacturer's instruction manual for any particular motor lubrication instructions, if permissible, lubricate the motor of the air conditioner.

  6. Put into place and secure with any fasteners the fan, air conditioner grille, any other metal casing you may have taken apart from the air conditioner.

  7. Also, make sure the coils in the inside unit of the air conditioner are free of debris.

  8. Unfasten and remove the grille covering of the inside unit of the air conditioner to gain access to the filter thereof.

  9. Then, in one hand, while outside of the house, take a garden hose and shoot water from the hose at the filter while holding it stretched out with the other hand.  Caution: The water will increasingly add weight to the filter and you don't want to add more water weight than you have to (since it will unnecessarily wear out the filter), so it is imperative that you shoot water at the filter to force out any "wall" of debris found on the filter, constantly moving the water shoot-out until the whole filter has been covered with water (do not keep the hose aimed only at one part of the filter).  Then, turn off the hose, and gently and carefully hit the filter against a sturdy clean board or wall to get rid of the excess water that has added weight to the filter in the course of shooting out the debris with the hose.

  10. Alternatively, if you find that the filter is too old, too dirty and otherwise you desire not to have the same filter in your air conditioner, you can easily have it replaced by buying a cut-to-fit filter replacement from a home improvement store, an appliance store or even online.  If you really want to save money in the long run, you may choose to buy the filter in a bundle of rolled-up filter, and all you would need to do then for each occasional replacement is cut-to-size a filter from this bundle.

  11. At this time, if the instruction manual of your air conditioner's manufacturer speaks of lubricating the blower unit of the inside unit of the air conditioner, go ahead and lubricate the ports of the blower unit designated for oil.

  12. Put the filter back into place.

  13. Then, put into place and secure with any fasteners the air conditioner grille that goes after the filter.

  14. Reconnect the electrical power to the air conditioner.  Turning it on, setting the appropriate thermostat settings and giving it about a half an hour, the air conditioner should start blowing cool air.  Aside from feeling the cool air as a test that the air conditioner is properly working, after letting the air conditioner on for about ten minutes at most, you should find that of the two pipes that connect to the outside condenser unit, one pipe feels cold and the other feels warm (of course, you must slide back any insulation covering around the pipes to properly detect this sense).

  15. If the above does not work, it is very likely that your air conditioner is in need of specialized repair or actually a refrigerant recharge; consult your manufacturer's instruction manual for repair options and, if need be, contact a repair technician specializing in central air conditioner repair and refrigerant recharge.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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