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.
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.
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