Identifying Air Conditioner Problems Before They Become Major Repairs
Your home's central air conditioner is a power-hungry and complex machine that can fail at any time without warning. However, there are a few simple ways you can identify air conditioner problems that could tip you off to a potential problems before the unit fails completely.
Some of the early warning signs of potential air conditioner problems are:
One of the most common complaints we hear is that the air conditioner is making a wailing noise. Left unchecked, the minor annoyance can quickly grow deafening when the unit is operating at full capacity. Loud noises such as these are generally caused by a fan belt becoming dislodged over time. Your technician will check the bearings in the motor, as they may require lubrication or replacement.
Frozen AC Coils
Another issue that often arises is frozen coils. Frozen coils and ice can impede the operation of the unit, creating blockage in the circulation of Freon and air. Heat pumps often contain heating elements to reduce this problem, but sometimes the unit doesn’t cycle quickly enough. Recalibrating the unit can eliminate this problem.
An air conditioner that is leaking water inside your home can cause significant water damage as well as mold and mildew. If your AC unit no longer drains away condensation effectively, it could be the result of a rusted out condensation pan or blockage in the drain itself. Check the pan and drain lines for signs of leaks.
Clogged Ventilation Grills
One of the most common causes of air conditioner failure is blocked grills. Annual maintenance to clean the unit's fins, fan, motor and other parts of dirt and debris will allow the unit to operate at peak efficiency during the hottest weather.
Other AC Problems
If the air conditioner simply isn’t cooling, more advanced diagnostic tools may need to be applied. Is the fan or compressor running without the other? Does the unit work only part of the time? Does it over cool or not cool enough? Questions such as these can help you give your technician a head start in quickly zeroing in on the source of the problem, so be sure to take a second to observe operation before you turn of power to the unit and call for service.
Generally most problems can be identified from the details above. If, for instance, the unit shuts off before the room is a comfortable temperature, it may not be cycling enough air through the thermostat to take a measurement. This could be due to poor calibration or a blocked sensor.
A Freon leak can render the machine weak or ineffective, especially if recharging the gas supply doesn’t solve the problem. The thermostat could be broken as well, which usually means it has to be replaced.
Finally, the A/C unit may be short-circuited to the ground, causing circuit breakers to fail every time the machine turns on. Be sure to provide a description of the problem to your technician to help him solve your problem as quickly as possible.