Spring is here and things are starting to heat up in the US. So what do you do if your air conditioning is on the fritz? Your first thought may be to call a repair service, but before you pick up that phone you should probably know that the average cost of AC repair is anywhere from $150 to $500. Yikes, think of how many snow cones you could get for that kind of money! No way do you want to miss out on that action, so let’s consider some alternative options.

To be clear: without a doubt, there are times when calling a professional repair service is the only reasonable course of action. HVAC school exists for a reason, after all. But you’d be surprised how many times people think their AC is broken when all it needs is a little TLC. You don’t have to be an engineer to give a little TLC, do you? Nope, you sure don’t. So roll up those sleeves and try 5 little TLC treatments before you start spending your snow cone money. You’ll be glad you did.

  • Check the Breaker It could be that you’ve simply overloaded the circuits. A surefire way to test this is to check the power. Does the unit turn on at all? If not, your fix may be as simple as replacing a fuse, or even flipping a switch or two.
  • Change the Filter When it comes to AC you want to get out of repair mode and into maintenance mode. That means doing the little things that make a big difference as often as needed to keep things humming along. When airflow is reduced by a gunky filter, cooling efficiency can drop dramatically. Even worse, it can cause the whole unit to ice up. So make a habit of checking (and replacing, if needed) twice a year.
  • Mind Meld With the Thermostat Did you know that the thermostat is the brain of your air conditioner? It is! It’s responsible for gauging ambient temperature and kicking the unit on or off based on that reading. A pretty huge job, right? And it’s powered by batteries. Yep, you read that correctly. So do yourself a favor and make sure that your AC’s brain hasn’t simply run out of juice.
  • Melt the Ice Remember that ice problem we discussed in number 2? While it seems like ice would be an air conditioner’s best friend, it actually keeps the unit from doing what it’s meant to do. So if you see ice just turn the unit off for a few hours and let the ice melt. That’s it, that’s all.
  • Clean That Sucker Just like a gunky filter will reduce the power of your AC, dust and debris collecting on the inside of the unit affects everything from the fan blades to the condenser fins. So turn it off (<–that first step is VERY important), crack it open, and gently clear out the inside of the unit with a duster or soft cloth. The blades and fins are surprisingly delicate, so be gentle and mind the sharp edges.

If after all of these steps you’re still way too hot for comfort then a call to your repair service might be in order. But there’s a good chance you’ll find the unit runs like a dream once you’ve taken some care. And if that’s the case grab a snow cone and chill out, you’ve totally earned it.