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What Qualifies as an HVAC Emergency?

As summer approaches, now is a great time to have your HVAC system serviced to ensure your air conditioning will work correctly when it heats up. Far too often, homeowners put off having annual AC maintenance performed in the springtime, only to need emergency HVAC repair on the hottest day of the year.

What Is Considered an HVAC Emergency?

worker repairing ceiling air conditioning unit

Deciding what is considered an HVAC emergency and what is not requires having a general working knowledge of your HVAC system. You should know how your system cycles, how to tell if it is blowing out hot or cold air, where the air filter is located, and how to check to ensure that it is draining correctly.

You should also be aware of the sounds your HVAC system makes when it is running in both heating and cooling settings. This will help you identify strange sounds should they become apparent and indicate a potential problem.

Keeping these things in mind, here are some common sounds and signs that indicate you need emergency HVAC service:

#1. No Heated or Cooled Air

If you put your hand up to the air vents and the air coming out is not heated or cooled, there is something wrong with the system. However, before calling your HVAC technician, check your air filter. Dirty and clogged air filters can prevent sufficient airflow and cause the system not to heat or cool correctly.

#2. Buzzing Sound or Burning Smell

Buzzing sounds and burning smells indicate electrical problems. They can occur from faulty connections to parts that are overheating and melting others. Shut off the system and contact your HVAC technician for emergency HVAC repairs asap.

However, it is worth noting that a burning smell is normal during the first few heating cycles, as it is burning off dust inside the system. Yet, if the burning smell continues to be present, then it could indicate a problem.

#3. Clunking, Banging, Screeching, and Popping Sounds

These noises are not normal and indicate something is wrong with the HVAC system. For example, screeching sounds could indicate the system is operating under excessively high pressure levels. If the system is not serviced, there are risks of the parts under high pressure rupturing and exploding.

#4. No Airflow

Another problem that often indicates you need heating and cooling emergency services is when the system turns on, but there is no airflow. The air handler unit and blower motor could have failed. There could also be an electrical problem where something shorted out, so the blower motor is not working properly.

#5. System Does Not Turn On

If your HVAC system does not turn on when it should, it could indicate a wiring or electrical problem. Start by checking the thermostat first to ensure it is set to heating or cooling and turned on. Next, check your breakers to verify they do not need reset. After checking these things, if the system still won’t turn on, then call your HVAC technician.

#6. You Smell a Strong Gassy Smell

If you have a gas heater and notice a strong rotten egg odor, it could indicate a gas leak. You should shut off the gas main immediately. Contact your HVAC technician for emergency service to check for gas leaks.

#7. The Pilot Light on Your Furnace Is Yellow

Natural gas flames should appear bluish in color. If your pilot light is yellow, it indicates there is excess carbon monoxide, which is dangerous. Contact your HVAC technician asap for emergency HVAC service. You should also open up doors and windows to let in fresh air or leave your home until the problem is resolved.

#8. The “Exhaust” Fan on the AC Unit Isn’t Working

There is an “exhaust” fan on outdoor AC units that helps remove heat from the cooling coils as the coolant cycles through the unit. If this fan is not spinning, the coolant overheats, and hot air is blown into the house. Shut the unit off and call your HVAC technician right away.

What Is Not an HVAC Emergency?

woman with flashlight looks into distribution board

Certain types of problems may seem like an HVAC emergency to you. However, not all problems require emergency HVAC service, including:

  • Low Airflow – Low airflow indicates a blockage like dirty and clogged air filters. So, you would want to schedule HVAC service, but it does not warrant an emergency repair.
  • Power Outages – You would be surprised by how many people call their HVAC technicians when the power is out. If there is no electricity, there is nothing your HVAC technician can do to get your system back on. You just have to wait for your electric company to repair the problem.
  • Bi-Annual Maintenance – Your regular system maintenance should never be scheduled as an emergency service.
  • Repairs That Can Wait for a Normal Service Call – When the temperatures are moderate, and you survive without heating or cooling, you may not need emergency HVAC service.

How to Handle an HVAC Emergency

As you can see, certain problems qualify as HVAC emergencies and require calling an HVAC technician. When you need emergency HVAC repair services in San Antonio or the Austin Metro area, call Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 anytime, day or night, holidays or weekends.

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