Common air conditioner problems – and how to address them
May29

Common air conditioner problems – and how to address them



Air conditioning is easy to take for granted. Many homeowners expect to hear the hum of an AC unit kicking on as soon as they reach for the thermostat this time of year. Unfortunately, if the air conditioner has not been maintained or serviced, that expected, comforting hum may instead be dreaded silence.

Even if a home’s AC unit has been serviced, though, there are still common issues that can pop up from time to time. Some of these issues can be fixed relatively easily by yourself, while others require the care and know-how of an HVAC expert.

Let’s dive into some common air conditioners some homeowners may face this spring and summer – and how to deal with them.

1. Dirty air filter

There is no better way to make your air conditioner work harder than it has to than by not replacing air filters when they become dirty. This is a great way to cause more significant issues and rack up more costly repair bills.

When an air conditioner’s filter becomes dirty, the normal airflow that the unit needs to operate becomes blocked. The AC unit then needs to work even harder, decreasing its efficiency. A clean air filter can boost efficiency anywhere from 5% to 15%.

Most air filters need to be changed every month or two, while some may be able to go longer. You can see for yourself when a filter needs to be changed because it will accumulate large amounts of dust and dirt.

Check central air conditioner filters near the return duct. These can be located in walls, ceilings, furnaces or sometimes inside the air conditioner. If your home has room air conditioners or window air conditioners, then the filters are often mounted in the grill of the room-facing side.

2. Coils and fins collect debris and dirt

Certain parts of the air conditioner itself, such as coils and coil fins, also need to be checked for cleanliness from time to time.

A unit’s evaporator and condenser coils can accumulate dirt each season. A dirty evaporator coil, if covered by too much grime, can become insulated, which makes it harder for the coil to absorb heat. Evaporator coils should be cleaned once a year, according to advice from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Condenser coils in the unit can also become covered in dirt, especially if the unit is in a dusty environment or is located near foliage. The coil’s fins can be seen rather easily to see if they are dirty and need to be cleaned. This could be caused by a nearby dryer vent, falling leaves or even a passing lawn mower. It’s a good idea to keep any foliage at least two feet away from the AC unit.

3. Low refrigerant levels

A more serious common AC problem is low refrigerant levels. This could be due to undercharging during installation or because there is a leak somewhere in the unit.

A trained technician can solve this issue and charge the unit with the correct amount of refrigerant. This will bring the AC unit back into proper working condition and prevent much more expensive repairs.

4. Sensor problems

Sometimes, the thermostat sensor is the problem. If this is not working right, then an AC unit may not turn on and off as it should, meaning you will notice performance and cooling issues.

This sensor can sometimes be out of place. It should be near the evaporative coil but not touching it, per energy.gov. Very carefully bend the wire holding the sensor in place so that it is near the coil.

5. Trouble with drainage

Air conditioner condensate drains can sometimes become clogged, which then prevents proper drainage of condensation. This is even more common if it is especially humid outside. This can create too much moisture, which could then drip onto and discolor walls and carpet.

Check your AC unit’s drain channels by running a stiff wire through to clear any clogs. Be sure to mount room air conditioners level to allow them to drain properly.

6. Not getting your air conditioner serviced

The best way to avoid air conditioner problems is to have a professional inspect, service and clean the unit once a year. According to Angie’s List, this ideally would happen in the spring before those hot summer months when the AC unit is really needed.

Air conditioners should be serviced because, if left unmaintained over time, the unit can gather a lot of dust and dirt, including on parts that can be harmed if they are not clean. Air conditioners can lose 5% efficiency each year they are not properly serviced and cleaned. That’s going to result in higher utility bills and eventually expensive repair bills.

Plus, Angie’s List notes that most heating and cooling companies offer very affordable pricing for preventative maintenance. By having an HVAC professional come look at your home’s AC, you can rest easy knowing that it will operate at peak performance and with maximum efficiency when you need it most.

What a pro can do for you

During a service check-up professional HVAC tech can do even more to help ensure your home’s air conditioner is in peak working condition.

For example, they’ll check to make sure refrigerant levels are where they should be. Low refrigerant levels can cause a compressor to burn out, which is a very costly fix. They will also look at components, controls, coils and condensers for any problems.

On top of all that, they’ll know what to look for to make sure all electrical components are working as they should and that motors are properly oiled.

Comfortec can help keep your home cool

Need to have your air conditioner repaired or want to schedule a regular service and cleaning? Contact Comfortec Heating, Cooling and Plumbing by calling toll free 888-362-2106 or by sending us a message.

Our experienced technicians take pride in timely, courteous and professional service. Northwest Iowa homeowners in Spirit Lake, Estherville and surrounding communities know that they can trust us to provide them with innovative solutions that help them stay comfortable in their homes.

Schedule your service call or request a quote for a heating and cooling project today.


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