Top Tips on How to Troubleshoot Air Conditioners During Winter


Winter is typically an air conditioner’s hibernation time. It also signifies that you have all the time in the world to perform maintenance and troubleshooting.

Many homeowners experience difficulty turning on the unit after a deep sleep during winter. This can be frustrating, especially when the appliance was in its tip-top shape before the weather became icy.

So how do you deal with it? Don’t let it sleep or hibernate – instead, call a reliable HVAC service such as Direct Air to have it inspected.

It doesn’t mean you need to turn it on for long when the weather is already freezing. Turn it on only long enough once in a while to check if it’s still working.

Common AC problems and DIY fixes

Here’s a list of the common issues you may encounter with your AC unit and what you can do to fix them without calling an HVAC repair company near you:

Constant tripping

Power troubles can occur anytime and in any season. This means that the electrical supply of the AC is interrupted. It is manifested by a sudden drop in response from the remote, a decrease in motor and compressor activity, or an immediate total shut-off. 

What’s the solution?

  • Check the batteries of your remote-controlled thermostat. Try to change it with a new set of batteries and see if that can solve things. 
  • If the batteries are not the problem, you need to check the circuit breaker. However, in this case, you need at least basic electrical know-how since you will use a multi-tester to read if there is a voltage on the breaker. 
  • If the circuit breaker seems good, check the outlet where the AC’s power cord is plugged. Check if the voltage is around the standard, which is between 220 to 240 volts AC (alternating current) for most appliances. 

Poor airflow

One common trouble in AC units is debris, including dried leaves or brittle branches. They can block the vents of the outdoor unit (if AC is a split type).

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You also have to check the freezing of components, especially during winter. Aside from the vents, the fan blades and condenser coils can get iced. Clean them regularly, even during winter. Ensure the fan blades are lubricated and the condenser coils are clean.

And lastly, don’t neglect the air filters. They also accumulate dirt even while the unit is not in use. 

What’s the solution?

  • Check the air filters for any accumulated dirt. Clean them regularly with water and make sure they are completely dry before putting them back into the unit. 
  • Check if there are icy formations on the AC, especially the outdoor unit. Turn the unit off, and pour lukewarm water on the vents, blades, and housing. Wipe them dry once done. For condenser coils, wipe them with a towel soaked in lukewarm water. 

Cooling issues

An air conditioner pulls in the warm air from a room, after which the air passes through the coils containing the refrigerant. The latter is responsible for cooling the air. 

The coils heat up when the unit is turned on, which will cause the refrigerant to melt. This will cause the air being blown by the AC unit inside a room to be cool. On the other hand, the AC releases the excess heat outside.

What’s the solution?

  • Check if the AC is running, with no obstacles to the ventilation and fans, no icy formations, and working under stable electricity. 
  • If everything is okay, but the unit is still not working, it may be due to the frozen refrigerant. This is common since the weather is icy. Just keep it clean, and check the problem again once winter is over.

Quick fixes to common AC problems

When the AC unit stops functioning, you must first try the most simple solutions before calling a pro to get the unit fixed. These are the top three causes of an air conditioner that won’t turn on, won’t cool, or suddenly stops working:

  • Clogged filter
  • Emergency shutoff
  • Blown fuse or a tripped breaker
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Make it a habit to clean the filter or replace it whenever needed. For an emergency shutoff, check that your emergency cutoff switch is not flipped. This can happen if you had a maintenance check and the technician forgot to put it in place.

If the cause is an electrical fault you know nothing about, it’s best to let a pro handle the task. The least you want to happen is to make the situation worse by dealing with the problem despite having no tools.

Troubleshooting advice during winter

Here are some of the questions most people have about troubleshooting their AC units, especially during wintertime:

Is it advisable to turn on the AC during winter?

The recommended use of AC is when the outside temperature is between 65 degrees to 100 degrees Fahrenheit for optimum results. Anything beyond or below that range will cause a decline in the AC’s efficiency. Take note that the outside temperature can be less than 65 degrees Fahrenheit during winter. 

Is it advisable to troubleshoot the AC during winter?

It is recommended to regularly clean and check the parts of the unit during winter, but it is not ideal for turning it on. You should also refrain from opening the unit’s housing components, especially the parts situated outdoors, to minimize their risk of getting frozen.

Is it okay if the AC unit is not used for three to four months?

The newer models of ACs were built to last long. You can keep it in hibernation mode throughout the winter season if you have regularly maintained and cleaned the unit before the start of the icy months.


If your AC unit has been showing signs of problems even before the winter season, you have to get it fixed despite the cold weather. The most common problems with air conditioners result from inadequate maintenance, faulty installation, and poor service methods.

Make sure you don’t wait until winter to have your AC unit checked by a pro when you are certain the problem is not minor. Don’t let it go into hibernation in poor health. 


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