Is There an HVAC Specialist in the House? Top Reasons Consumers Need Air Conditioner Repair

Air conditioning is one of those modern conveniences that can be easy to take for granted. It typically isn’t until a residential or commercial air conditioning unit breaks down and our home comfort is disrupted that we give it any thought. By then, the average consumer is sweaty, frustrated and desperate to locate a 24/7 emergency technician to fix it fast. But what if you could avoid many unexpected breakdowns by understanding what makes you’re A/C tick and where it’s most vulnerable? Understanding some of the main reasons consumers need air conditioner repair can make A/C hiccups fewer. Check out this primer to learn what’s most likely to leave Ballwin, MO homes and businesses calling an HVAC specialist.

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How Your A/C Works

Summer is right around the corner, and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared. Make sure you’re cool and comfortable all summer long by scheduling air conditioner repair services with Advantage Air today.

Learning as much as you can about how your air conditioner works can help you understand where problems are most likely to occur and to understand the importance of preventative maintenance. A little knowledge won’t put you quite on par with a heating and cooling system professional, but it can help you recognize issues better and know when to call an air conditioning service specialist.

At a basic level, your air conditioner works by circulating refrigerant in and out of a building, drawing out heat as it does so. The main parts involved in this are an evaporator, a compressor, a condenser and an expansion device.

The cooling process starts with the evaporator, the part that goes into the building. The evaporator contains coils which house refrigerant; that refrigerant picks up the temperature of the air, absorbs its heat and turns from liquid into a vapor. This process removes heat from the air, which creates the seemingly magic cooling properties of an air conditioner.

The process isn’t all over yet, however. The vaporized refrigerant passes into a compressor, which compresses the vapor into a high-pressure, high-temperature gas. Next the gas travels to the condenser, where it is returned to a liquid state and heat is radiated away. Now cooled off, the liquid passes back through an expansion device back into the evaporator, where the process begins all over again.

Fans also help circulate cool air in the building and blow away hot air outside, while other components help dehumidify the air blown into your house.

Now it’s time to move on to the top things consumers do that end in a call to the HVAC repairman.

Not Recognizing Leaks

Ductwork, or the system of tubes that connects your heating and air conditioning system and channel air through your home or business, is the hardest working part of any A/C system. When it’s faulty, either through poor design or leaky connections, you can lose some 30 percent of airflow. This can create a variety of problems, including:

    • Hot or cold spots caused by inconsistent air flow

    • Poor air quality

    • Extra wear and tear on your unit as it tries to work harder to compensate for the leak

Unfortunately, many home and business owners have a feeling something is wrong, but don’t try to figure it out until the HVAC system problem has gotten pretty bad. If you’re experiencing hot or cold spots around your home, there are a few old-fashioned ways to figure out if a leak is to blame. Hold a lit stick of incense near duct connections and check for smoke movement. If the smoke blows around, air is leaking through small gaps in the ductwork.

An easier way for the average consumer to check for a leak is their energy bill, which is sure to skyrocket as your leaks get worse. Air conditioner repairs to ductwork can become fairly complex fast. Reach out to an A/C specialist to get help sealing gaps with foam, taping and other durable materials.

You Didn’t Change Your Filters

While your air conditioner’s coils are working hard to move refrigerant back and forth, fans are pushing air out into your environment through filters. When it works properly, you get clean, odorless cooling. But when filters are dirty, they can’t do their job well. The results are unpleasant and can include:

    • Increased coughing, sneezing and other physical reactions as allergens are pumped into your environment

    • Frozen coils, ineffective coils which happens because not enough air is moving past the coil to facilitating the condensation of refrigerant

    • A hotter building as the A/C blower fans strain to pass air through the clogged filter

Changing your A/C filters in a timely manner is critical but easy to forget. Many consumers also struggle with knowing exactly when to change their filters. A good rule is to put a new filter in once a month during the cooling season. You may find, however, that you need to change them more or less often depending on things like filter type, whether you have allergies and how many pets you have in your home. Each of these things can impact how hard a filter has to work to keep your air clean and optimal.

Consult with an air conditioning repairman if you need help choosing the right schedule. However often you do it, make this simple preventative maintenance step a high priority. Changing your air filter is one of the easiest things you can do yourself to improve your A/C’s efficiency and reduce wear and tear.

You Neglected Your Condenser

Another easy way to avoid needing extensive air conditioner repair is clean your A/C condenser. As we mentioned before, the condenser is the part of the A/C that’s outside of the building. That leaves it exposed to the elements, and therein lies the problem. Over time, the fans that blow air through the unit will pull in dust, leaves and whatever else is floating in the air. That debris becomes a clog that blocks airflow and cuts down on condenser power. The results will include:

    • A warm and muggy building as your A/C slowly loses its cooling power
    • Decreased energy efficiency and a higher energy bill
    • An A/C that’s actually blowing out warm air

Cleaning a condenser unit is surprisingly easy. To locate your condenser, look outside of your home or building for a unit connected to two copper tubes. This unit will have fin-like metallic blades running the length of the unit. If you don’t see them, consult your buyer’s manual as they may be inside the unit.

These are what you want to clean. Once you’ve located the fins, shut off the electricity to the unit, and grab a soft brush to remove debris. You can also use a garden hose to rinse off some of the sides of the unit, but be careful of getting a lot of water inside.

Another way to ensure your condenser is working at top capacity is to remove nearby debris. This includes piled up leaves, branches, wood piles or even boxes or patio furniture you may be storing nearby. Once you have successfully cleared any debris around the unit, consider trimming back any hedges or shrubbery that could be blocking air flow.

It’s important to remember that the condenser works best when there’s about two feet of clear space around it; this enables the unit to blow freely, doing its job and returning refrigerant back to the evaporator to keep the cool air flowing.

Finally, consider investing in an overhead screen, awning or pergola to reduce direct sunlight on the unit. Studies have found that condensers placed in direct sunlight were 10 percent less efficient than those in the shade. The easier you make it for your condenser to do its job, the longer you are likely to avoid A/C problems. When you do need air conditioner repair, it’s less likely to be a huge fix due to your preventative maintenance.

If you find that you’re one of the unfortunate home or business owners whose condenser is a little too far gone to handle with a garden house and a brush, it may be time to ring a Ballwin, MO air conditioner repair specialist to handle things.

Winter Maintenance Considerations

During the winter, your air conditioner sits dormant for weeks or months at a time while your furnace kicks into high gear. It’s during this period of inactivity that problems are likely to occur. To understand this concept, think of your family vehicle. Overuse without proper maintenance can cause it to develop problems that require costly repairs, but underuse can do the same thing.

When a vehicle’s engine sits dormant for too long, it can take a lot of work to get it running properly again. The same is true for your air conditioner. It’s good to give it a break from the constant work it does in the summer, but it’s also important to properly maintain it throughout the winter. That way it’s more likely to work as expected when hot weather rolls back around.

Can I Do It All Myself?

We have laid out some of the easiest fixes for your air conditioner, and hopefully you can apply what you’ve read right away. Many if not most hiccups in an air conditioning unit can be addressed by one of the simple fixes we’ve named, sparing you some expense.

But at times cleaning your condenser or changing the air filter won’t be enough. There are situations when air conditioner repair needs will be much more complex. It’s tempting to try to take this on by yourself. And while it’s true that some fixes are easy enough to do yourself, other big fixes could void your warranty if not done by professionals. More importantly, materials like R22 air conditioning coolant are federally regulated and can’t be handled by just anyone. When it comes to your air conditioner repair, handle tiny fixes and maintenance at home. But for big lifts, make a service call to a certified technician in St. Louis County. A tech skilled in air conditioner repair will get your systems running and restore your indoor comfort fast.

Try these simple tips to ensure your air conditioning unit is ready for summer weather:

  • Check your filters
  • Inspect ductwork
  • Clear away debris
  • Test the system

Even though you changed your filters before winter hit, it’s important to check them again before you start up your AC unit for the first time. You should also inspect the ductwork throughout your house to ensure nothing is obstructing proper airflow. If your ducts are clogged, dirty or show signs of mold growth, it’s time to hire professionals to clean out your entire duct system.

Next, clear away debris from your outdoor unit before turning on your AC system and testing it for the first time. Make sure there’s a healthy flow of cool air through all registers. If the air doesn’t feel cool, call an HVAC contractor to figure out what’s wrong.

You may want to follow these suggestions a few weeks before you actually need to use your AC Unit. That way you can schedule any necessary repairs before the weather gets unbearably hot.

Signs You Need Air Conditioner Repairs

Regular maintenance can prolong the life of your AC unit and minimize problems. However, even the best-maintained HVAC units eventually break down and require repairs. Here are a few signs you need to schedule air conditioner repair services right away:

  • Hot or smelly air comes out
  • Strange noises come from the AC unit
  • Liquid leaks from the unit
  • Air flow is weak

If you notice any of these signs, call us right away! They could be serious indications that your system needs immediate repairs or replacement. To schedule your service, call Advantage Air or fill out our online form today.

11 Things You Should Know About Your Home’s AC System

Your home’s air conditioning system is one of its most important. When your unit is functioning correctly, you may hardly notice it. A broken system, however, can be impossible to ignore. Meanwhile, per Murphy’s Law, cooling units don’t often break on cool days. Instead, they wait until temperatures are sweltering and air conditioner repair shops are closed to go on the blink. Whether you are a first-time homeowner or have lived in your residence for years, you should try to understand and properly care for your air conditioner.

Here are 11 things you should know about your home’s air conditioning system.

  1. Your AC Unit Needs Room To Breathe

If your home is like most, it has an air conditioning unit that sits outside. This is the condenser, which is one of the most important parts of your house’s HVAC system. Even though the condenser is exposed to the elements, it isn’t indestructible. In fact, the unit can overheat if it doesn’t have some breathing room. Fortunately, this is something that is easy for you to monitor.

Every few weeks inspect the condenser, looking for dirt and debris. There should be approximately one foot of clearance around the unit. As such, you should never store items or allow yard waste to accumulate near the condenser. When clearing away unwanted objects and trash, be careful not to damage the unit. If you notice any dents or cracks, schedule air conditioning repair in Ballwin, Missouri, as soon as possible.

Limbs, leaves and dirt aren’t your only air conditioning concerns. While your air conditioner’s manufacturer designed the condenser to live outside, sunlight can decrease the unit’s lifespan. As such, you should consider purchasing a sun screen or shade alternative if your condenser receives more than a couple hours of direct sunlight during the day. Also, if you live in an area that receives significant snowfall, be sure you clear snow from the condenser to avoid damage to your heating and cooling system.

  1. Strange Noises Are Usually Bad

Like all mechanical systems, your home’s air conditioner should operate without making much noise. If you hear grinding, clanking or other metallic sounds, your HVAC system is probably calling for help. As you may guess, ignoring these sounds can lead to serious problems that are expensive to fix. Accordingly, if your system begins to sound unhealthy, discontinue use until you can speak to an experienced repair technician. Often, catching air conditioner problems early is the best way to preserve the condition, performance and value of your HVAC system.

  1. A Dirty Air Conditioning System Can Be Dangerous

In St. Louis, MO, in the summertime, air conditioning is essential. Since you don’t want to roast insider your home, you flip a switch and engage the air conditioner. You may not, however, realize that a dirty air conditioning system can wreak havoc on your health. In fact, many respiratory ailments are aggravated by filthy HVAC filters and ducts. Meanwhile, a dirty system can cause you to contract for frequent air conditioner repair. Rather than risking your wellbeing or the condition of your system, be sure to regularly inspect HVAC filters and ducts for signs of dust or mold. By regularly replacing dirty filters, you keep your system in tip-top shape and promote good indoor air quality. Of course, you may want to schedule annual duct cleanings with your HVAC service to remove dust from hard-to-reach parts of your system’s ductwork.

  1. You Can Make Your System More Efficient

Nobody likes to pay high energy costs. Still, your utility bills likely skyrocket during the summer. You don’t have to sacrifice home comfort to save money. Instead, use the following simple suggestions to boost system efficiency:

  • Seal leaky or drafty windows and doors

  • Upgrade your home’s thermostat

  • Set the indoor temperature to 72 degrees

  • Regularly replace filters

  • Clear debris from around the condenser

While anyone can easily save a few dollars with a bit of effort, you may want to invest in some more significant home improvements if you are serious about lowering energy costs. Specifically, consider these three ideas:

  • Paint your home a light color

  • Install cool roofing

  • Replace outdated windows

Whether you are making small changes or major renovations, you must have the right attitude to keep air conditioning costs in check. By working to create a culture of energy efficiency within your family, you will likely notice a fatter wallet over time.

  1. Dust Is Not a Friend to Your AC’s Coils

To cool your home, your air conditioning system relies on coils to generate condensation. If these thin metal strips are covered in dust, they simply can’t function properly. Unfortunately, while cleaning coils is not a difficult project, you probably don’t have the tools or expertise to access your AC’s coils. Therefore, contract for professional air conditioner service to remove dirt from coils. As a bonus, during the cleaning, the expert HVAC technician can inspect the condenser for signs of damage.

  1. Ductwork Doesn’t Last Forever

Your air conditioning system uses ductwork to deliver cooled air to all parts of your home. While ducts are durable and strong, they aren’t indestructible. Over time, corrosion can cause holes to appear in places you can’t see. Meanwhile, system vibrations can encourage duct joints to separate. As you may suspect, gaps and holes allow air to escape. This decreases the efficiency of your entire HVAC system and requires your air conditioner to work harder than it should. A quick inspection should tell you whether you need to schedule duct repair service.

  1. Damaged Air Conditioners Can Start Fires

Few things are more heartbreaking than a home fire. As a diligent homeowner, you have smoke detectors throughout your home. You also never leave open flames unattended. Still, your old or damaged air conditioner may increase your home’s fire risk. Because most home fires are due to mechanical or electrical failures, you must be sure your air conditioner has a failsafe that works. To be certain the safety features throughout your HVAC system are in good shape, contract for cooling service every year. A quick electrical test informs your technician and you of whether you need urgent air conditioner repair.

  1. Window Units Require Some Extra Work

If your home does not have an integrated HVAC system, you may have a window unit. While these units are effective at cooling rooms, they require some additional effort. At the end of the hot months, you likely must remove your unit from the window and safely store it. If you don’t, you may encourage cold air to flood your house when you are trying to stay warm in the winter. Remember, storing your window unit takes some thought. Specifically, avoid placing your air conditioner in any position except the upright one. Also, cover it with a tarp or trash bag to keep it clean until you are ready to use it again. If you notice any damage to your window unit, request air conditioner repair at the end of the season. That way, your unit will be ready to go when temperatures start to climb again.

  1. A New Unit May Be a Smart Investment

Air conditioner technology has advanced considerably in recent years. If your home’s HVAC system is old, you may benefit from purchasing a new air conditioner. Not only are new units more efficient, they often qualify for the sort of tax breaks that save you money. Of course, not every old air conditioner should receive a one-way ticket to the landfill. Sometimes, retrofitting HVAC systems or upgrading certain components is as effective as replacing the entire system.

  1. You Want a Warranty

Warranties are good for consumers and air conditioner manufacturers. Not only do they protect your investment, they safeguard the company’s brand. Still, an extended warranty can seem like an unnecessary expense when an air conditioner is new. It isn’t. By purchasing an extra year or two of coverage, you insulate yourself financially from repairs associated with parts that break after moderate usage. You also don’t have to wonder whether your unit is a lemon.

  1. It Helps To Have a Go-To Repair Service

Whether you plan to stay in your home forever or sell it next week, you want to be certain it is in good shape and has high value. By paying attention to your HVAC system, you can likely detect minor issues before they become serious problems. For routine inspections and occasional repairs, having a go-to service makes good sense. If you have a working relationship with an air conditioning specialist you already trust, you know you are getting good advice and reliable repairs. For both peace of mind and resale value, working with the best air conditioning service is wise.

Your home’s air conditioning system is one of its most important. If it isn’t working right, you may be uncomfortable or unhealthy. You may also be spending a fortune powering an inefficient system. Fortunately, you don’t have to put up with a bad air conditioner. Instead, ask a reliable technician to inspect your HVAC system. If there is a problem, contract for air conditioner repair as soon as possible. With the right attitude and a bit of effort, you can get the most out of your home’s cooling system.

10 Signs Your Air Conditioner May Need Repairing or Replacing

Now that Spring has finally arrived it won’t be long before temperatures start rising and air conditioners start running. AC units work hardest in the intense heat of June, July and August making this a peak period for air conditioner repair in Ballwin Missouri. The good news is, when the temperatures top 90 degrees, you don’t have to sacrifice home comfort because of a broken air conditioning unit. Recognizing these ten signs enables you to have your air conditioner repaired or replaced before it quits altogether.


  1. Poor Airflow


If your air conditioner is running, but you only feel a week flow of air when you stand right next to the vent, it usually indicates compressor failure or air duct issues.


  1. Loud Noises


The sound of grinding, scraping or squealing may point to broken motor bearings inside the unit, a bad belt inside the unit or that the unit needs lubrication.


  1. Frequent Repairs


If your AC repair service spends more time at your house than your kids, it’s time for a new air conditioner.


  1. Moisture


Moisture on and around your unit could result from a leak. Water leaks are commonly caused by a blocked or broken drain tubes. If it’s Freon, it is a much more serious problem. Freon (refrigerant) is toxic and only a qualified repair service should deal with it.


  1. Over 10 Years Old


The older your unit is, the more it costs to maintain. Units that are ten years or older have reached the top of their life span, so it’s time to replace them.


  1. Blows Warm Air


When your home doesn’t feel as cool as it should with the AC on, see if your vent is blowing cool air or warm air. If the air is warm, you could be looking at anything from compressor failure to a blown fuse. At any rate, HVAC service is in order.


  1. Bad Odors


Musty odors could mean mold build-up in the ductwork or the unit itself. A pungent smell usually points to burned out wire insulation. Both need service calls to prevent further damage.


  1. Humidity


High humidity in an air-conditioned home is sometimes caused by frozen evaporator coils. It can also mean it’s time to replace the filter in your AC unit.


  1. Rising Utility Bills


A jump in your electric bill in the summer could mean a broken thermostat switch, leaky ductwork, a choked condensing coil or that you need to replace your old unit with a newer, more efficient model.


  1. Inaccurate Thermostat


If your AC won’t turn on or if it runs for a little bit then shuts itself off, you could have a bad thermostat. Since the thermostat affects both your heating and cooling systems, you should replace it right away.


Let Us Help

If you’re looking for air conditioner repair in Ballwin, Missouri, call us at (636)- 230-5572 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation, in-home consultation. Our expert HVAC technicians at Advantage Air LLC are ready to meet all your cooling needs.

About Advantage Air, LLC

From its headquarters in Ballwin, MO, Advantage Air, LLC, has been proud to serve the greater St. Louis metropolitan area for 19 years. The family-owned and -operated company offers such residential and commercial services as installations, maintenance, and repairs. Experienced technicians tend to air conditioners, furnaces, HVAC systems, generators, humidifiers, and commercial rooftop units from over a dozen different manufacturers. The company not only prides itself on deep industry knowledge, but also unrivaled customer service and quality. To learn more, visit