7 Simple Fixes For Your Flip’s HVAC (And Two To Get An Expert For)

Buying a fixer-upper can be as stressful as it is exciting.

To save as much money as possible, you will want to evaluate what you can do yourself and what you will need to hire a contractor for.

Calling in a professional is pricey; the more you can do yourself the more money you can save. This article will walk you through seven simple HVAC fixes you can and should take on. We will also discuss two HVAC jobs that are worth bringing in a contractor to complete.


When You Don’t Want To Get A Contractor

While it is ideal that you work with a contractor to survey and repair the home’s HVAC systems, we understand it isn’t always in the budget. The goal of flipping a house is to make a profit, after all. Keep in mind though, that if the HVAC system repairs are outside your scope of knowledge and skills, it can end up saving you time, money, and even a headache or two to start with a reputable contractor.

When you really can’t afford to get a contractor, there are some common problems you can check and fix yourself. If more issues keep cropping up and you cannot troubleshoot your way through the problems, you will need to call in a professional to help ensure the house can pass inspection

Problems You Can Check and Fix Yourself

In some cases, problems with HVAC systems are super easy and inexpensive to fix. Some of the simpler repairs involve dusting off equipment or tightening a screw.

Here is a guide to seven quick fixes for your HVAC systems:

Blown Fuse

This one almost goes without saying, and if you’ve done any flipping at all, you’ve probably dealt with it already. If your system - or even just the thermostat - won’t turn on at all, your breaker box is a good place to start.

You might have a blown fuse.

This is a pretty obvious and easy fix. Locate the tripped breaker and flip it fully “off” and then back “on”.

Batteries Not Included?

The previous owners of the home might have removed all the batteries from battery-powered fixtures. The thermostat might be missing its batteries or have dead batteries, causing the system controls to not work. If your heating or A/C doesn’t work, check the thermostat batteries first.

Dirty Filters

When performing an initial survey of the house, the filters should be checked to make sure the airflow is uncontaminated and airways are clear. Whether the filters are clogged up or simply old, check the size and buy new ones. This is a cheap repair that can be performed by sliding the old filter out and the new filter in.

It’s important to remember that filters are there primarily to protect the system not the resident - that’s only a secondary effect. If the filters are in bad shape, it might be an indication you need to double-check the whole system with a pro.

A Dirty Outdoor Unit

Sometimes things aren’t broken, they’re simply dirty. Turn the outdoor units off and clean your A/C units and be sure to include the fan blades and condenser fins. Dirt on HVAC systems is unsightly, but it can affect the way the system operates.

Is Your Unit Iced Over?

When a unit ices over during colder months, it will not be able to warm efficiently - or at all. To thaw out the unit, turn it off and leave the fan running. Another option is to turn it off completely and allow the ice to disappear naturally.

The reason we say to leave the fan on is so that it will dry the water that drops or condenses inside the unit more quickly.

Vent and Duct Flow

Is there proper air flow in your vents and ducts? If they are clogged they may just need a little cleaning. Dusty ducts can be the culprit of minimized airflow and cause poor air quality.

Open up all the vents, including ceiling vents, and use a small extension on a vacuum cleaner to remove any obstructing particles.

Rattling Sounds

Rattling sounds caused by loose grills on vents or the unit itself can be enough to drive any sane person crazy.

Why are you hearing phantom sounds echoing through your home?

The cause is most likely a loose screw on the registers or grilles. Check all the screws around the systems and ventilation and try to pinpoint where the sound is coming from.

Is it coming from a specific room or the unit?

Hopefully that will solve the issue and save you money. But if you can’t locate the source of the noise, it may be time to call in the contractor.

Two Times You Should Definitely Consult An Expert

While there are a lot of troubleshooting tricks and quick fixes you can use to get your HVAC system in working order, sometimes you will need an expert.

Don’t be afraid to admit you need help if you run into hard-to-solve problems. It may cost more in the short term, but it will pay off in the future.

System Turning On And Off

If your system is turning on and off frequently it could be due to the thermostat placement. You will need to hire an HVAC tech or electrician to come in and evaluate your system’s efficiency.

For example, if the thermostat is in a designated “hot spot” where it is exposed to more heat or sunlight than other parts of the room or house, the temperature readings can become faulty. However, this isn’t always the issue.

Your unit might just be the incorrect size for your house. A thermostat located too close to an air supply vent can also cause false thermostat temperatures and stop your house from being efficiently cooled. Bring in a professional to pinpoint the problem.

Refrigerant leaks

If your unit is iced over in winter, it might be the weather. But when it’s not cold - or even if it is - it could be a refrigerant leak, which will continue to cause problems as well as being harmful to the environment. An HVAC tech can quickly find the leak and is certified to fix it.

If a unit has been iced over all winter or the unit is simply old or damaged, refrigerant leaks are liable to occur. This will not only prevent your unit from functioning, but it can also release hazardous materials into the environment.

You need to call an HVAC tech, who is certified to handle hazardous refrigerants, so they can locate the leak and fix it. There are federal regulations governing the purchase and handling of the refrigerants needed.

AC units running on lower levels of coolant create higher indoor temperatures. This malfunction can cause lukewarm air to circulate through supply vents and creates a hissing sound within the refrigerant lines.

Leaks make the AC fail, endanger the environment, and cause further damage to the unit. Stop the leak in its tracks by hiring a professional to help.


Whether you are flipping a home or doing routine maintenance on your own HVAC systems, there are a lot of easy troubleshooting strategies you can employ yourself. Many of the problems you encounter you can fix yourself armed with only a vacuum and a screwdriver. The important thing to know when DIY-ing, though, is when to call a professional. In the face of problems like serious refrigerant leaks or thermostat misplacement, call a trusted HVAC tech or electrician in your area.

Bob Wells

This is a guest post by Bob Wells, a retired HVAC tech who now dedicates himself to sharing knowledge on his website hvactraining101.com. Bob worked over 30 years in the field, 23 of which he ran his own contracting business. He’s dedicated to keeping up with the latest developments in the field and helping others to learn the trade better and advance their own careers. Bob is on Twitter with the handle @hvactraining101 and you can also find him on Facebook.