You might currently be a bit more concerned about the function of your home heating than the state of your air conditioning, what with winter on the way. But after using your AC all summer, you might have started to notice that it wasn’t working as well as it should. Or perhaps there are unseen problems plaguing your unit that you won’t discover until your spring service. Unfortunately, some issues could become a lot worse through neglect (consider what might happen to a leaking unit in the freezing cold of winter, for example). So when you get your furnace or boiler inspected this fall, you might want to ask your technician to take a quick peak at your AC unit to make sure everything is okay, especially if you noticed some issues towards the end of summer. Here are just a few common problems you could be facing.
- Low airflow. If you noticed that the airflow from your vents was getting weaker, or it’s never been particularly strong, you could have a big problem. If your unit is functioning properly, the likely cause of this issue is that your unit has been poorly installed. So if you recently upgraded to a newer unit and you chalked up the weak air flow to energy efficiency, you might want to consider that the installers bungled the job somehow. Of course, if airflow is an ongoing problem the culprit could also be your ductwork. In this case, your heat will be affected, as well, so you should definitely have the issue checked out as soon as possible. Air leaking into the walls and attic means less heat in your living spaces and higher utility bills in the process.
- Low refrigerant. The refrigerant in your AC unit is the gas that actually cools the air. But over time your system could experience leaks. This is a problem for a couple of reasons. For one thing, releasing chlorofluorocarbons like Freon and other refrigerants into the atmosphere is not very environmentally friendly (hello, holes in the ozone layer!). But of course, it will also tax your unit, limiting the cool air that may be produced and potentially leading to more serious issues. If you don’t want to replace the unit any time soon, it’s imperative that refrigerant volume be checked and corrected post haste. Luckily, checking the refrigerant is something that a technician should do in the course of a regular inspection, so as long as you contract for regular maintenance you should be fine.
- Frozen coil. When you have your annual inspection and maintenance on your AC unit, the technician will clean any dirt, dust, and debris that have made their way into your system. But if you fail to arrange for regular inspection and maintenance, grit in the unit can cause problems, and a frozen coil is one of the most common (although low refrigerant could also explain this occurrence). Luckily, this condition is easily preventable in most cases with regular maintenance.
- Broken compressor. When your system is constantly turning on and off your compressor can wear out more quickly than usual, which can make your system kaput. A good way to avoid this situation is to set your programmable thermostat and select moderate temperatures. Of course, the problem could also be that your unit is not correctly sized for your home (too small or too large). If this is the case it may need to be replaced.
- Sensor issues. Even if you don’t necessarily understand how HVAC works, you are probably aware of the fact that the system contains sensors. These devices measure the temperature so that the system knows when to kick on and turn off. But if they are faulty, damaged, or worn from use they can make your unit go all wonky. If the AC seems to go on and off without rhyme or reason, it could be a sensor issue.