Yes, there are a few things you can do before you have to get out your cheque book.
The obvious things first.
When the unit is not working at all, check the circuit breaker to see if it has flipped off. Then check to see if the thermostat is operating properly.
Is there a fuse in the unit that has to be replaced? It could be the source of your problem.
If you hear strange noises coning from the compressor (the outside unit), only certified technician can help you. Cooling systems are so complicated that do-it-yourself repairs are not recommended.
When the system seems to be working, but it isn’t cooling or isn’t cooling enough, you could be low on refrigerant. Unfortunately, you have to call a certified service person to add or completely refill the unit.
The technician may say you need refrigerant, but be sure to have him find out why. If there is a leak in the system, the air conditioner will soon be low on coolant again.
A major problem could mean an expensive repair. Get two or three estimates before deciding if you would be better off buying a new unit or paying a big bill to fix the old one.
If you have questions about home inspections or home maintenance, ask the Inspector! E-mail your questions to Inspection Works.