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Summer should be a time to relax and enjoy life at a slower pace. The last thing you want is to have your air conditioner break down during the hottest time of the year. As we approach the “dog days” of summer, don’t gamble with your family’s comfort! Keep reading to learn about the most frequent causes of A/C breakdowns and the straightforward steps you can take to prevent them from happening.
The Top 7 Causes of Air Conditioner Problems
1. Low refrigerant: Have you ever wondered how your air conditioner works its magic? A compound called refrigerant makes it possible. As refrigerant absorbs heat from indoor air, it changes states from a low-pressure gas to a high-pressure liquid. The air conditioner sends the refrigerant outside, where a fan blows hot air over the coils and exhausts it to the exterior. The refrigerant then cools down and becomes a gas again. Another fan inside your home blows air over the cool coils to send the newly cooled air throughout the house. Then, the cycle repeats.
If your refrigerant lines develop leaks, you may lack the supply necessary to cool the air effectively. Replacing the refrigerant is not sufficient to fix this problem. You need to have a trained HVAC repair technician find the leaks and repair the holes in the lines.
2. Frozen coils: Your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is full of refrigerant, and works by absorbing heat from the air. It may seem illogical, but those coils don’t work properly unless warm air is circulating around them. If the evaporator coil gets too cold, a layer of ice can build up on the outside. When that happens, the air coming from your registers will be either too warm or nonexistent, and you’ll need to call for professional service.
3. Dirty coils: Your unit’s condenser coils, located on the outside of the unit, won’t work efficiently when they get covered with a layer of dirt and grime. Because of increased outdoor air pollution, this problem is unfortunately all too common. When it happens, it impedes the heat transfer process, forcing your unit to work harder. The result is increased wear and tear on the unit, and can even lead to premature system failure.
4. Faulty fans: Your air conditioner has one fan that blows indoor air over the evaporator coil to cool the air, and another that blows air over the outdoor unit’s condenser to expel the absorbed heat. If either of those fans stops doing its job – due to a faulty motor, lack of lubricant, fraying belts or excessive dirt and debris – your result will be poor airflow and other air conditioner problems. If you don’t call a professional for help, you may be risking compressor failure, which often spells the end of your air conditioner.
5. Leaky ducts: The ductwork that runs throughout your home should carry cooled air into every room. However, if there are holes or gaps in the ducts, as a result of small animals or sloppy installation, all that cooled air ends up escaping into your walls, where it’s not helping keep you comfortable. This is another scenario that causes your air conditioner to work harder and makes your energy bills spike.
6. Thermostat problems: Incorrect calibration, which means your air conditioner isn’t getting the right instructions from the control system, is an issue that often happens with outdated dial-type thermostats. You can fix this relatively easily by investing in a new programmable thermostat.
7. Drain clogs: Your air conditioner removes moisture from the air, and that needs to end up somewhere. A drain line is supposed to take this water away. However, if the line or drain gets clogged or the pan starts to overflow, the water can back up and damage your system. Water damage can also affect your home by causing mold growth.
5 Steps to Prevent Air Conditioner Problems
1. Replace your filters regularly: Many airflow issues result from clogged, dirty filters. Air filters also make a huge difference in terms of indoor air quality because they’re designed to catch small particles that can cause allergies and other respiratory problems.
2. Get ductwork inspected and repaired: If it feels like there’s less air coming from the registers, or your energy bills have increased despite your usage remaining the same, have an HVAC expert assess the condition of your ducts.
3. Install a programmable thermostat: Eliminate issues with older, hard-to-control systems by installing a new thermostat. These thermostats also save you money because you can set them to run less often when you’re not home, which means you aren’t wasting energy cooling empty rooms. Many newer models even have Wi-Fi capability, which means you can adjust your settings using your smartphone.
4. Keep the outdoor unit free of debris: The unit can’t expel heat as effectively when the condenser and outdoor fan unit get clogged with leaves, branches, twigs and dirt.
5. Don’t procrastinate on regular maintenance: You can prevent almost all the common issues listed above by having an HVAC expert come over to inspect and tune up your system. If you’re worried it will be too expensive, just think about how much more it would cost to repair or replace an air conditioner that breaks down unexpectedly.
What to Look for in a Professional A/C Maintenance Provider
If you’ve decided to get preventive A/C maintenance, you’ve already won half the battle. Now, you need to find a reliable company to provide you with the highest-quality service. It’s worth doing your homework, because not all companies that specialize in A/C service are the same. If you choose blindly, you may regret your decision down the road. Here’s a checklist of what to look for.
- Experience: How long has the company been in business? Are they willing to share customer referrals or testimonials with you? Are their techs trained and licensed, and will their work be up to code?
- Attitude: Pay attention to how your tech interacts with you. Do they use confusing terms you can barely understand, or do they explain the problem in plain English? Are they friendly, approachable and willing to answer your questions? Do you feel valued as a customer?
- Guarantees: Another deciding factor is whether the company offers warranties. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure the provider you select can back up not only the quality of the equipment, but the work itself.
Providing Outstanding Service for 35 Years
Since our founding in 1984, Maichle’s Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing has worked to provide the gold standard of service to our residential customers throughout Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. We install and service leading air conditioner brands, and our years of service ensures we have the technical expertise to do every job right – no matter how big or how small. Our team puts a high premium on customer satisfaction, which is why we offer a comprehensive guarantee.
Don’t let the heat get the better of you this summer. Whether you need routine maintenance or a more comprehensive A/C repair or replacement, contact our professionals for speedy response times, affordable rates and a smooth and enjoyable process. We’re looking forward to working with you!