Summer means higher temperatures, which means more air conditioner runtime, which means more strain on the system, which means a higher chance for problems to show up. Which is not to say that you should just leave your air conditioner off all summer. We wouldn’t want anyone to have to suffer through that. What you should be doing, though, is making sure that you’re on the lookout for any warning signs that your air conditioner is beginning to malfunction in some way. Even with consistent maintenance services, there is still a chance for a problem with your air conditioner to show up between appointments. Have a look at some of the more common air conditioning issues below, and what you should do about them.
Refrigerant is the fluid that your air conditioner circulated throughout the system to cool your home. It uses the same level of refrigerant throughout its life, and shouldn’t ever need more added to it. Unless the line springs a leak, which does happen every once in a while. Refrigerant leaks rob the air conditioner of its output capacity over time. As the refrigerant level drops lower, the output capacity of the system drops as well. If the leak isn’t patched in time, the level can drop so low that the air conditioner will break down entirely. Make sure that you call for repairs if you notice refrigerant leaking from your air conditioner, or if you notice a drop in output.
If a short circuit develops between the thermostat and the air conditioner, or the compressor begins to malfunction, the system can begin to short cycle. This is when the air conditioner turns itself on and off without completing a full cooling cycle. The immediate effect of this is that the air conditioner will have its output ability severely curtailed. The bigger issue, though, is that short cycling dramatically increases the rate at which the system wears down. The longer the air conditioner is allowed to short cycle, the more prone to breaking down it will become and the more time will be shaved off the end of its life. You should call a professional immediately if you notice your air conditioner doing this.
The air handler is the part of the air conditioner that actually circulates air throughout the home while the system is running. Without a healthy air handler, the system won’t be able to actually cool your home. Air handler motors have been known to overheat and burn out if they go too long without being serviced. If you hear a loud grinding sound coming from your air conditioner while it’s running, it’s possible that your air handler is in need of repairs. You should have a technician check out your system if you think there’s a problem with the air handler.
HVAC equipment standards are constantly changing. More regulations are on the horizon — and they might be coming into effect much sooner than you’d expect.