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Understanding Window Air Conditioner Repairs: What Can You Do?

Is your window air conditioner giving you problems? Maybe it’s just not putting out cold air anymore. Perhaps it’s getting really noisy and is only working as a fan and not an AC unit. What can you do?

Face it: windows air conditioner units were invented to help out when a central heating and air conditioner system was not possible, due to budget restraints or space limitations. If your home or apartment was really warm and it became challenging to get a good night’s sleep—you had to do something. Maybe you even got a used unit from a friend of yours. At least you got by for a few years. But no longer. That’s why we’ve put together this short Window AC Repair guide for you. 

Exterior view of the house with installed air conditioners.
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Identify the Problem

Look for the manufacturer’s nameplate, find the model number, and you’ll also find some technical data, such as the size (BTU rating), the refrigerant, date of manufacture.

Understanding the problem beforehand helps in communicating with professionals effectively. Listen for strange noises, observe temperature inconsistencies, and note any leaks or strange smells. Is the unit not turning on at all, or is it simply not cooling as effectively? Gather as much information as possible, as this will assist the technician in diagnosing the problem more quickly and may result in a more accurate initial quote.

Quantify the Problem: Is it the right size? 

As a guide, realize that the BTU rating of window units is directly related to the size of the room being cooled. For instance, 5,000 BTU are designed to only handle rooms 150 s.f. or smaller; 8,000 BTU, 340 s.f.; 12,000 to 14,000 BTU is needed for rooms 550 to 800 s.f.  Put it this way: if your unit is only 5,000 BTU, and your room is 800 s.f., no amount of repair is going to be very effective. So…Measure your room. Then you’ll know what to expect. 

Also, survey the local big box stores and find out what new units cost for rooms of your size. If a new one is, say, $600.00 and you get a quote of $500.00, for example, to service the old one, you might want to re-think getting a repair. Bear in mind, new units will also—generally–require less electricity to run, and will likely perform better.

Research Local Professionals

Take the time to search for experienced HVAC professionals in your area. Online platforms can provide reviews and ratings, but don’t overlook personal recommendations from friends or neighbors. Look for companies with a solid reputation for quality work and good customer service. Consider their experience with your specific brand or type of air conditioner. The time spent researching could lead to a more positive repair experience and save you money and frustration in the long run.

Verify Licensing and Certifications

A licensed and certified HVAC technician ensures that repairs meet industry standards. Check the company’s website or ask them directly for their licensing details and any certifications their technicians hold. In many areas, working with HVAC systems requires specific training and adherence to regulations, especially concerning refrigerants. 

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Hiring a licensed professional protects you as a consumer and ensures that the work will comply with local building codes and industry standards. It may also be a requirement to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty on the unit.

Bright room with installed conditioner.
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Request Quotes

Contact several companies to get quotes for the repair. Alpha Living can get your quotes from multiple, vetted contractors. Provide them with the information you gathered about the problem, the make and model of the air conditioner, and any other pertinent details. 

Requesting written quotes ensures that you have a clear understanding of the anticipated costs, and comparing quotes from different companies can help you find the best value. Remember that the cheapest quote may not always be the best choice, and consider other factors like reputation, experience, and the warranty on the work when making your decision.

Inquire About Warranties and Guarantees

When speaking with a potential service company, ask about their warranty or guarantee policies. Reputable companies often stand behind their work with a promise to correct any issues related to the repairs they’ve made. This warranty can vary in length and coverage, so be sure to understand the specifics. 

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A guarantee offers the added peace of mind that, if something goes wrong with the repair, the company will handle it at no extra cost. This can be a distinguishing factor between companies and an essential consideration in your final decision.

Check Availability and Response Time

The timing of the repair may be a crucial consideration, especially during extreme weather. Ask about the company’s availability and how quickly they can send a technician. If immediate repair is necessary, look for companies offering emergency services. 

Keep in mind that during peak seasons, scheduling may be more challenging, so flexibility might be needed. If you have the luxury of time, you might prefer to schedule at your convenience. Either way, understanding the expected response time helps set expectations and ensures that you choose a company that can meet your timing needs. Below, we discuss maintenance plans.

Prepare for the Visit

Once you’ve scheduled the repair, prepare for the technician’s visit by clearing the area around the air conditioner, making sure there is easy access to the unit. Have the model number, owner’s manual, and any warranty information available if needed. If you’ve attempted any troubleshooting or previous repairs, inform the technician, as this information may be helpful. Preparation ensures a smoother repair process, can save time during the visit, and allows the technician to focus on the task at hand without unnecessary delays.

Ask Questions During the Repair

Don’t hesitate to ask the technician questions during or after the repair. Understanding the problem, the repair process, and any potential future issues can be informative and reassuring. Ask about maintenance tips, what caused the problem, and if there are any recommendations for preventing it in the future. 

A professional technician should be willing to explain their work and provide insights that can help you maintain the unit more effectively. This is an opportunity to learn from an expert, so take advantage of it.

Review the Work

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Once the repair is completed, review the work with the technician. Make sure the unit is functioning properly and that you understand any changes made or parts replaced. If something doesn’t seem right, address it before the technician leaves. This is also the time to review any paperwork, including the invoice, warranty on the repair, and any recommendations for future maintenance or service. Having a clear understanding of the work performed and any future considerations helps ensure satisfaction with the service and can prevent misunderstandings later.

The air conditioner is installed against the wall.
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Consider a Maintenance Plan:

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Homeowners with whole-house systems often sign up for a regular service plan. Window units—not so much—but it’s worth checking on. HVAC companies routinely offer “spring service specials” to come out and check your unit, clean the coils, replace coolant, and so forth. 

These HVAC service companies offer regular maintenance plans that can be a cost-effective way to keep your air conditioner in optimal condition. The plans often include routine inspections, cleaning, and adjustments that can extend the life of the unit and prevent future problems. 

Discuss the options with the service company and consider the benefits and costs. Regular professional maintenance may detect issues before they become significant problems, saving money in the long run, and ensuring that your window air conditioner continues to function efficiently. 

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