Common AC problems can make spending a summer in the Florida sun very irritating. Don’t leave your summer comfort to chance! Identify the most common AC problems and implement simple, effective precautions to ensure a refreshing summer experience.
Leaks in Refrigerant Lines
The refrigerant is the stuff that your air conditioner uses to remove the heat and humidity from the air in your home. If your system develops leaks in the refrigerant lines, you won’t have enough refrigerant to cool the air. Unfortunately, fixing this air conditioner problem correctly is not just a matter of replacing the refrigerant. A repair technician needs to find the leaks and repair the holes in the lines. Sometimes this is a time-consuming and expensive process, especially if there are multiple leaks.
Evaporator Coil Issues
Your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is filled with refrigerant. It is responsible for absorbing the heat from the air like a sponge. It may sound counter-intuitive, but those coils need warm air circulating around them to work properly. When something goes wrong with the airflow the evaporator coil gets too cold. A layer of ice can build up on the outside. When that happens, you’ll get warm air or none at all coming from your air conditioning supply registers. Air flow problems that lead to coils freezing are often caused by clogged air filters. Be sure to keep an eye out for worn, dirty, air filters.
Dirt and Grime on the Condenser
Another common AC problem is caused by dirt and grime. Your unit’s condenser coils, part of the outdoor unit, gets rid of the heat removed from the air by expelling it outside the building. The condenser coil won’t work well when it gets covered with a layer of dirt and grime. This is a very common problem in big cities with all the soot and pollution in the air. When it happens, heat transfer is impeded, and your unit has to work harder to do its job, leading to increased wear on the parts and even system failure.
There is a fan that blows indoor air over your unit’s evaporator coil to cool the air, and another that blows air over the outdoor unit’s condenser to expel the absorbed heat outside the building. If either of those fans isn’t working properly– due to a faulty motor, lack of lubrication, worn belts or too much dirt and debris– you end up with poor airflow and air conditioner problems. If you neglect the problem, it can lead to compressor failure, which is often a death sentence for your air conditioner. An easy remedy to this problem is clearing leaves, trash, dirt, and other debris from your outdoor unit. When the condenser and outdoor fan unit get clogged, the unit can’t expel heat as effectively.
Another common AC problem is faulty ductwork. The ductwork that runs through your walls and ceilings carries the cooled air from the air conditioner throughout your space. However, if there are holes or breaks in the ducts (which can be caused by rodents or careless workers), that expensive cooled air winds up inside your walls where it’s not doing anybody any good. And, of course, this scenario causes your air conditioner to work harder and drive up your energy bills. If it seems like there’s not enough air coming from the registers, or your energy bills keep going up, have an HVAC expert take a look at the condition of your ducts.
Replace or Recalibrate Thermostats
If you still have the old dial-type thermostats, they could be incorrectly calibrated. This means your air conditioner isn’t getting the right instructions from the control system. This problem is easy to fix by replacing or recalibrating your thermostats. New programmable thermostats are tricky to program and may be set incorrectly. Check the instructions to make sure your thermostat’s settings are correct. Eliminate issues with older control systems by installing new thermostats, which are more precise and save energy. Use thermostats that can be controlled remotely using your smartphone or tablet.
Clogged Drain Line
All the moisture that your air conditioner removes from the air has to go somewhere. It’s supposed to be removed from the space through a drain line, into a pan and finally down a drain. If the line or drain gets clogged or the pan gets full, the water can back up and damage your system. You can also wind up with water leaks that damage your walls, ceilings, and furnishings. If not dealt with quickly, you’ll eventually have mold growth.
Additionally, be sure to get regular maintenance. The vast majority of common AC problems can be prevented with regular maintenance. Have an expert come in to inspect and tune up your system each spring before starting it up for the first time. It’s relatively inexpensive, and you’ll save yourself from having to make that emergency call or from buying a new AC when your unit stops working on the hottest day of the year.