AC repairs can be expensive, and there are also some issues that can be fatal and force you to replace your outdoor AC unit. This makes it important that you take certain steps to help prevent your air conditioning from breaking down or experiencing issues. Regular maintenance is the biggest key as most AC problems are preventable. With that in mind, today we’re going to discuss some of the most common causes of AC repairs and what you can do to help prevent them.
1. Dirty Air Filter
A dirty air filter may not seem like a big issue, but the fact is that dirty air filters are the number one cause of many common AC problems. This is why it is vital that you replace the air filter every one to three months as this will help prevent many issues from arising.
The air filter works to trap dust, hair and debris to prevent damage or other issues with the evaporator coil and blower fan. As your AC runs, the air filter will slowly collect more and more debris to where it becomes almost completely clogged and very little air can flow through it.
A clogged air filter can cause the blower motor to overheat or wear out more quickly. If the filter is coated in a thick layer of dust and debris, the blower motor will have to work far harder to bring warm air into the system and through the filter. This puts extra stress on the motor and leads to increased wear and tear not to mention higher energy costs since a dirty air filter will dramatically slow down the rate of cooling.
A clogged air filter will also often cause the evaporator coil to freeze, and this can lead to extremely expensive repairs should you continue to let your air conditioning run when it is frozen. If the blower can’t draw in sufficient warm air because the filter is clogged, the refrigerant that flows through the evaporator coil won’t absorb nearly as much heat. As a result, the refrigerant can remain cold enough so that the condensation that forms on the coil starts to freeze.
If the refrigerant doesn’t absorb enough heat, it will also remain a liquid when it flows out of the coil instead of transforming into a gas. This is a serious problem as the refrigerant has to be a gas when it enters the compressor in the outdoor unit. If the refrigerant is still liquid, it can get into the motor’s crankcase and begin to boil from the heat of the motor. This can then result in some of the oil also burning off, which means that the motor may no longer be properly lubricated and could seize up.
2. Clogged, Closed or Obstructed Vents
If too many of the supply vents where the cool air flows out are closed, clogged or obstructed by furniture, it will lead to an increase in air resistance in the ductwork. This increased air resistance then means that the blower will need to work harder to circulate air into and out of the system. As with a clogged air filter, this can lead to the blower motor breaking down or the motor overheating and your cooling system automatically shutting off. This problem can easily be prevented by making sure your vents are clogged or blocked and always leaving at least 75% of the vents open.
3. Dirty Evaporator Coil
A dirty evaporator coil can also quickly start to freeze up. What happens in this situation is that the dust and debris act like a layer of insulation that limits how much heat the refrigerant can absorb from the warm air flowing over it. Again, if the refrigerant doesn’t absorb sufficient heat, it can stay cold enough for ice to start forming and the coil eventually freezing up completely. This problem can also easily be avoided by scheduling an AC maintenance or tune-up appointment every spring as part of this service includes fully cleaning the evaporator coil.
4. Debris Clogging the Outdoor Unit
Leaves, debris and the white fluff or cotton from poplar trees can easily collect in the grates on the sides of your outdoor AC unit. The system normally disperses the heat by using the fan to blow air over the condenser coil so that the refrigerant cools off again. If the sides are clogged, all of the heat that was absorbed from inside the home won’t have anywhere to go.
The condenser coil will also quickly become coated in dust and dirt, which can insulate it just like with the condenser coil. If there is too much dust coating the condenser coil, it also won’t be able to release enough heat. In either case, all of the heat can build up and lead to the fan motor and compressor motor beginning to overheat and potentially breaking down and needing to be repaired or replaced. This is another problem that can easily be prevented with annual AC maintenance as the technician will also clean the entire outdoor unit.
5. Condensate Drain System Issues
The condensate drain system is what channels all of the humidity that forms on the condenser coil into your sewer system or directly outside the house. The combination of warm air and moisture can lead to mold and algae growing in the drain pan or the condensate drain lines. Dust and debris can also collect in the lines, and all of these things can eventually lead to the drain system becoming clogged and water starting to back up.
In some cases, this can lead to water damage as the water may eventually start to overflow out of the drain pan. A clogged condensate drain system may also prevent your AC from running. Some systems have a float switch in the drain pan that will automatically shut everything down if there is too much water in the drain pan to prevent it from overflowing.
Cleaning a clogged condensate drain system usually isn’t all that difficult, but it is still something that you will need to hire an AC technician to do. As with many other issues, this is something you can prevent with annual maintenance as the technician will fully inspect the drain system and make sure it is working properly and draining correctly.
6. Malfunctioning Thermostat
A malfunctioning thermostat can also lead to various issues with your air conditioning system. If the thermostat isn’t working properly or not calibrated correctly, it may fail to signal the system to shut off when it should. This means your air conditioning will run longer than needed, which leads to increased wear and tear and increases the chances of breakdowns and repairs. Again, the solution to this is annual maintenance since the technician will also check your thermostat as part of the service.
7. Low Refrigerant Charge
Low refrigerant level is also one of the most common reasons an AC system will start to freeze up. If the refrigerant level is low, it will lead to the pressure dropping. In turn, the lower the pressure is, the colder the refrigerant will get. You really shouldn’t ever need to worry about the refrigerant level as it should always stay constant. Nonetheless, a technician will still always check that the system has the correct refrigerant charge as part of their routine maintenance. If the system is low on refrigerant, you will usually then need to have the refrigerant lines and coils inspected for leaks.
At Bacon Plumbing Heating Air Electric, our team can ensure your AC is working correctly and prevent most common issues. We specialize in AC repairs and installation and can also help if you need any heating, electrical or plumbing services in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Give us a call today if you have any questions or to schedule a service call.