Sweet, Sticky Summertime: The Most Common A/C Problems (And How to Avoid Them)
It’s not a well-kept secret — Americans love going outside during the summertime! This time of the year has warm weather favorable for fun outdoor activities such as going to the beach, barbequing and exploring nature.
But why do most people love to come out during the summer season more than other seasons of the year?
Uncomfortable indoor temperatures are one of the main reasons for this profound love for the outdoors. As a homeowner, you should ensure your air conditioner is working well before the hot summer temperatures creep in. It is also best to familiarize yourself with common air conditioner problems — and how to prevent them!
Keep reading on below to discover some common issues.
Your residential air conditioner relies on refrigerant to draw heat from the interiors of your house and then dissipate it to the outdoor environment. Essentially, the refrigerant is the working fluid that delivers the cooling effect that you get from your AC.
Although your home’s AC system isn’t designed to lose refrigerant, it may lose the fluid if leaks develop within the system. When this happens, your cooling equipment will lose its usual cooling efficiency.
To fix the issue, you will have to ask an AC repair specialist to detect and seal leak spots and then regas your unit. This should restore the normal refrigerant level. If you simply add more refrigerant without checking the leaks, the new refrigerant will also leak out of your AC system.
The best way to avoid having a low refrigerant level is to have your equipment inspected regularly by a professional. Between visits that the professional makes to your home, watch out for signs of refrigerant loss. Some of these signs include:
- Your AC blowing hot air
- Your AC taking longer than usual to achieve the desired indoor temperatures
- Your AC produces a sweet, chemical scent when operating
- Your energy bills shoot up drastically without an equivalent increase in electricity costs or change in your domestic electricity consumption patterns
If you notice any of the above-highlighted symptoms of AC malfunction, you may need to have your refrigerant level checked out.
Dirty Air Filters
Another problem that can hurt the performance of your air conditioner is air filters clogged with dirt. AC air filters stop dust and other airborne dirt particles from entering your air conditioning system. This allows proper flow of air.
Over time, these filters become clogged with dirt and will need to be cleaned or replaced, depending on the type of filter that your AC unit uses. When this happens, the filters will be less efficient at their job of preventing airborne dirt particles from getting into your air conditioning system.
Owing to poor air circulation, your AC will run harder than it should to keep you cool and comfortable. This will cause energy wastage, which will translate to higher energy bills.
Cleaning or changing dirty air filters as per the equipment manufacturer’s specifications will help to ensure the proper flow of air within your AC system and also lead to better indoor air quality. What is more, it will minimize the risk of equipment breakdown, which may arise if the equipment is left to work too hard for a prolonged period.
Read our article to discover which factors influence how often you should change your air filter.
Noisy Air Conditioner Operation
Although most modern AC models are designed to operate almost silently, all air conditioners produce some noise when running. However, this noise is kept at a minimum when they are running at their best. If yours sounds louder than usual, this is a clear sign that something is wrong with your air conditioning system.
There are many things that could lead to the constant racket during AC operation, but loose or faulty running parts are the main culprits. As it is not easy to identify the exact cause of the problem, your best bet for solving the issue is to hire an experienced AC technician.
Owing to their knowledge of the ins and outs of AC operation, they will quickly identify and fix the part is making your cooling equipment noisy.
Faulty Wiring/Electrical Components
If there is a problem with the wiring or other electrical components of your AC system, the system is bound to fail. Common culprits include faulty wiring, a bad circuit breaker or a blown fuse.
If your AC isn’t working properly, some electrical components could be bad. If it isn’t working at all yet it is turned on, it is likely that the flow of current has been stopped due to detached wiring.
You can avoid this problem by scheduling regular maintenance service for your AC system. A professional AC repairer will inspect your AC wiring and other electrical components to determine where the problem is.
Your AC’s thermostat performs the important task of regulating the temperature of the air blowing from your AC supply registers. If the air blowing out of your AC system is too hot or too cold, this is a sign you could be having a bad thermostat.
There are many different reasons your thermostat may malfunction. These include lack of power supply, bad wiring, as well as normal wear and tear. Several homeowners are usually relieved to discover that what they thought was a failing air conditioner is only a bad thermostat.
Avoid exposing your thermostat in direct sunlight or heat sources to prevent premature failure. Also, be sure to check and, if necessary, change the batteries.
Blocked/Leaky Air Ducts
If you get your conditioned air from a ducted air conditioner, then it is vital to keep the HVAC ductwork clean and leak-free. The presence of blockages in the ducts will hinder the proper flow of air while leaks will lead to loss of conditioned air from the ducts.
The best way to keep your ducts clear and free of leaks is to have them inspected and cleaned by an AC maintenance and repair expert. If leaks are found, they will be repaired to prevent further loss of precious air destined for the air supply registers.
Check out how an annual maintenance contract can benefit your AC system.
Blocked HVAC ductwork isn’t the only cause of poor airflow in ducted air conditioning systems. Another likely culprit is when the air supply and return registers are obstructed.
Thankfully, this issue can be fixed quite easily. All you have to do is to ensure all registers are open and clear of any obstruction.
The condenser located in an AC’s outdoor unit plays an integral role in the cooling system’s performance. This vital component draws and cools hot refrigerant from the system so that the air blowing out of your air supply registers is cool enough to keep you comfortable.
Keeping the condenser unit free of obstruction such as leaves and other debris is essential to getting the most from your AC system. You should also keep the area surrounding your outdoor unit free of vegetation that may cause obstruction.
Air Leaks Within Your Home
Are you aware that not all the problems that hurt the cooling performance of your AC are system-related? Air leaks in your walls, floors, ceiling, attic, and around window and door frames can also cause significant heat losses in your home. This will hurt the performance of your AC system.
On hot days, cool, conditioned air may escape from your interior living space via these air leaks. This will cause your cooling system to run harder than it should, thus wasting energy and blowing money.
It is important to have your house inspected by a professional house inspector to identify leaks spots in the envelope of the building. If leaks are found, they should be sealed to make the envelope of the building airtight. However, you’ll need a ventilation system to let fresh air in.
Avoid Most Common Air Conditioner Problems by Scheduling Regular AC Maintenance
The vast majority of air conditioner problems can be avoided by arranging for regular AC maintenance by a qualified HVAC technician. Unfortunately, many residential AC owners take their cooling equipment for granted until it stops working properly or goes quiet completely. By this time, minor issues will have exacerbated into major AC problems that are costlier to fix.
Keep in mind, however, that you may experience AC system failure even if your system is properly cared for. Like other equipment, ACs also suffer general wear and tear and will need to be repaired or replaced at some point. If you suspect that your AC isn’t working correctly, you should ask an HVAC professional to check it out. Identifying and solving air conditioner problems can be a tough job if you’re not familiar with how AC equipment works.
Hiring a pro when your AC unit requires repair work helps you avoid the guesswork associated with doing DIY repair jobs. In case you have any HVAC-related questions or issues that need to be addressed, you’re welcome to contact us!