When to Call in an HVAC Pro (and When You Can DIY)

By Lyle Weischwill | Dec. 14, 2015 12:36 pm PST

Calling an HVAC pro versus DIY fixes

These are the heating, ventilation and air conditioning problems that are so serious you should call in an expert.

When to Call in an HVAC Pro (and When You Can DIY)

Even brand-new HVAC systems can go on the fritz. For homeowners, it can be difficult to know whether the situation requires a service visit from the pros or whether it’s a fix you could try to do yourself. Here are some common HVAC problems and info to help decide whether it’s a DIY task or time to call the experts.

The system flat out isn’t working.

You turn it on, and then… nothing. First, check your thermostat. Is it set to the proper temperature? Have you remembered to switch it from heat to cool? It might sound too basic to even mention, but better that than calling for a service visit and seeing the technician simply flip that lever.

Ditto with circuit breakers and switches. If those all check out fine, call for service. You may have faulty contactors (which start the system with an electrical connection) or burned-out capacitors (which help the motors function). Either way, that’s a job for the pros.

The heat pump is blowing cold air.

This can be caused by several glitches. First, check outside to make sure a snowdrift hasn’t covered your outdoor unit. If that’s not the problem, call for service. It may be running in the AC mode because of a malfunction, the outdoor unit could be iced up (not because of the snow but because of a problem), or you could have bad compressor valves.

The AC isn’t cool enough.

If your air conditioner is limping along halfheartedly, check the air filter. If you haven’t cleaned or replaced it in a while, that could be the cause.

If you’ve done that and it still isn’t cooling properly, make the service call. It could be you’ve got a bad thermostat or problems with the compressor or fan motors.

Your electric bills are abnormally high.

This usually requires a visit from your service team. If your high bills are happening in the summer because of AC and you’ve checked the filter, there are a myriad of culprits that could be causing the problem: bad compressor valves, a refrigerant leak and more.

In the winter, you might have an iced-up outdoor unit, problems with the heat pump or just general poor efficiency caused by lack of maintenance.

It’s sprung a leak.

You should never see water around your indoor unit. But although it looks like a dire situation, it might be a minor problem. It could just be a floor drain clogged with dirt. That, you can fix yourself.

If you still see water, you could have a faulty evaporator coil, a bad gasket, broken fittings or rotted furnace tubing. Let the experts deal with these problems.

It’s making strange noises.

If you’re hearing banging in your outdoor unit, a rock or stick may have worked its way into the system and is clanging around in the fan. Turn off the unit and check. It might be as simple as that.

But, if it’s making strange noises you haven’t heard before — hissing or squeaking — don’t try to DIY. It could be a bad belt that needs to be replaced, a leak or an indicator of low refrigerant. Call in a technician.

If you need to bring in an HVAC pro, call the Sears Blue Service Crew at 1-888-577-4342 or schedule a repair online.

Get a free in-home consultation

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