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Top 10 Common Air Conditioner Problems and How to Prevent Them

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If you’ve ever spent a summer in Dallas, Texas you know how important air conditioning is. Properly maintaining your air conditioner throughout the year can drastically reduce the chance of having a breakdown. Learn about the most common causes of air conditioner problems and some easy steps you can take to prevent repair issues.

Top 10 Causes of Air Conditioner Problems

 

1. Dirty Condenser Coils. Condenser coils are located in your outdoor unit and work to remove heat 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 Dallas with all the dust, pollen, and pollution in the air. When your condenser coils are dirty, heat transfer is impeded, and your unit has to work harder to do its job. This extra load on your air conditioner will lead to increased wear on the parts and eventually system failure. Your condenser coils can usually be cleaned with a water hose once a year or as needed, but if they get too dirty, an HVAC technician will have to clean them with a chemical cleaner.

2. Dirty Air Filters. It can be easy to forget changing our home air filters regularly. One of the typical reasons air conditioners don’t work properly is as simple as a clogged or dirty air filter. Dirty filters not only reduce the flow of air but can also cause the AC unit to freeze. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions as to how often to change your air filter. Some are monthly, others every three months, while some are reusable and should be cleaned when they are dirty. You can save yourself some of the hassle and buy air filters from our website and have them shipped to your door for Free!

3. Frozen Evaporator Coils. The evaporator coil is located on the inside of the internal unit or near the air handler where the blower fan is located. Your air conditioner’s evaporator coil is filled with refrigerant and is responsible for absorbing the heat from the air like a sponge. When something goes wrong with the airflow and 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. These coils can also become dirty and corroded with time which can reduce efficiency and decrease air quality. Some homeowners may be comfortable cleaning evaporator coils themselves but it’s recommended to have an HVAC professional perform this maintenance.

4. Fan Malfunctions. 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 these fans aren’t working properly you will end up with poor airflow and air conditioner problems. There are multiple possibilities that can cause a failure with either fan, such as: due to a faulty motor, lack of lubrication, worn belts or too much dirt and debris. If you neglect the problem, it can lead to compressor failure, which is usually a death sentence for your air conditioner.

5. Low Refrigerant. The refrigerant is a liquid cooling agent that your air conditioner uses to remove heat and humidity from indoor air. If your AC system develops leaks in the refrigerant lines, your system could not have enough refrigerant to effectively cool the air. Unfortunately, fixing this air conditioner problem correctly is not just a matter of replacing the refrigerant. An HVAC repair tech will need to locate the leaks and repair the holes in the lines. This can sometimes be a time-consuming and expensive process, especially when there are multiple leaks.

6. Leaking Ducts. Your home has duct-work running through your walls and ceilings that carries cool air from your air conditioner throughout your living space. However, if there are holes or breaks in the ducts, your cool air will escape and never make it to its intended destination. This in turn causes your air conditioner to work harder and drive up your energy bills. Constant heating and cooling can cause duct connections to expand and contract. Over time, if the connections are not properly sealed, joints can open, and then leak.

7. Thermostat Issues. A thermostat is the indoor device used to control your air conditioner. Old or improperly programmed thermostats are frequently a problem for home owners but luckily can be easily fixed.  An incorrectly calibrated thermostat can mean that your air conditioner isn’t getting the right instructions from the control system. This problem can be remedied by replacing your outdated thermostat or simply re-calibrating your existing thermostat. If you have newer programmable thermostat, it’s a good idea to check the instructions to make sure your thermostat’s settings are correct.

8. Clogged Drains. The humidity (moisture) that is removed from the air by your AC system is disposed of through a drain line. Just like an air filter, the drain line can become clogged with dirt, dust, and lint. 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 you don’t see it right away, you’ll eventually have mold growth. If you have a clogged drain you’ll need to unclog it. There are multiple unclogging methods, but the surefire way is to have a professional use a special vacuum to suck the material causing the blockage out.

9. Bad Capacitor. A capacitor stores energy and works in your outside unit to jump start the motor, compressor, and outside fan. Without capacitors, the motors that power the compressor and fans won’t work, and the AC unit won’t run efficiently if they burn out. Capacitors fail every day, they can go through very high strain during its lifetime and having an air conditioner run more than usual increases this strain. For most capacitors, there are three common causes of failure: heat exposure, voltage rating, and age. Replacing a capacitor is bit more complicated than just popping out the old capacitor and slipping in a replacement so it’s a good idea to leave this sort of repair up to a professional HVAC technician.

10. Tripped Breaker/Fuses. The breakers and fuses safeguard your AC unit’s motor or compressor from overheating. Often when a motor dies, one of the first things an HVAC technician checks is the breaker. An air conditioner usually trips the breaker because it’s pulling in more amps than the breaker is rated for. There can be many reasons your air conditioner is tripping a breaker or blowing a fuse, such as: dirty air filters, loose electrical connections, low refrigerant, malfunctioning capacitors, faulty condenser fan. Some of these problems are small fixes, such as changing the air filter. It is important to have any electrical issues diagnosed by a professional HVAC technician. Trying to fix electrical problems yourself could result in damage to your home, costly repairs, or replacement of your air conditioning system.

 

Virtually all of the most common causes of air conditioner problems can be easily prevented with regular maintenance. Have an HVAC expert come in to inspect and tune up your system each spring before starting it up for the first time.

We offer a Preventative Maintenance Agreement that includes a number of regularly scheduled maintenance visits throughout the year. Our Preventative Maintenance plan is one the most comprehensive plans in the industry. We go beyond simple checkups to investigate parts and systems that may be coming under duress, catching any problems early so that they don’t turn into big headaches later. It’s relatively inexpensive, and you’ll save yourself from having to make that emergency call when the AC stops working on the hottest day of the year. Call us at 972-288-2263 to learn more.

 

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