If you are like most people, you assume that your air conditioner is functioning properly as long as cold air is coming out of the vent. The truth is, your air conditioner may not be functioning at peak performance. It could be costing you extra money and shortening your system’s life because you haven’t had it serviced in more than a year.
So, why should you have your air conditioner serviced?
Your air conditioner is a complicated system with many moving parts. There are a lot of things that must be functioning properly to make sure your system is operating at peak performance.
You can do a lot of things yourself to maintain your air conditioner. There are some things that must be done by a professional.
If your air conditioner is a little low on refrigerant, you may not notice. It can still blow cold air and you will think everything is normal. Low refrigerant levels cause a loss of efficiency. Your system may still cool your home, but it is probably running more and working harder to do it.
When you have your air conditioner serviced annually, a technician will check your refrigerant levels to make sure your system doesn’t have any leaks and is running at peak performance.
If your condenser unit and/or your evaporator coils are dirty, your system will be less efficient. The coils transfer heat to and from the air and refrigerant. If you have a lot of dirty coils, your air conditioner can not transfer heat efficiently. This will cause your system to run longer and possibly quit cooling altogether.
During an annual air conditioning service, a technician will clean your coils with a cleaning solution specifically designed for air conditioning coils. They will also make sure there are not too many bent fins. If there are, they will straighten them out to make sure heat can get transferred efficiently.
There may be electrical problems in your system. You could have wires that are drawing too much power and overheating. This will eventually cause the wire to break and your system will stop working. If this happens, it will most likely be at the worst possible time.
When a technician services your air conditioner they will check the electrical system to see if it is drawing too much power. They will also look for signs of overheated and burnt wires. They can often see a symptom of a problem before it becomes a problem.
Other wear and tear
There may be other signs of wear and tear on your air conditioner that may lead to breakdowns. As a homeowner, you will probably not recognize them until it is too late.
Service technicians will look at your entire air conditioning system to make sure there are not any parts on the verge of failing. They know what a new, used, and about to fail part looks like. They can find potential problems and fix them before your system breaks down.
Not getting your air conditioner serviced once a year is like buying a car and never changing the oil, checking the fluids, or doing any other preventative maintenance. Getting your air conditioner serviced can save you money on your electric bill, prevent costly breakdowns, and extend the life of your system.
Is your air conditioner blowing hot air? Do you want it to blow cold air but don’t know how?
An air conditioner blowing hot air is a common problem. There are a couple reasons why this might happen and you might even be able to fix it yourself.
1. Is your thermostat set to heat or is the fan set to on?
This may seem crazy but check your thermostat first. Someone in your house may have turned it to heat. Spouses and kids do crazy things.
Also, check your fan mode. If your fan is set to “on”, it will never turn off. Your air conditioner will turn off, but your fan will continue to cycle air through your home. This will cause warm air to come out of the vents when your air conditioner is not on.
If your fan is always running, all you have to do is set it to “auto” to fix this problem. This will make sure the fan only turns on when the air conditioner is on.
2. Is your condenser unit dirty or is the air flow blocked?
If you remember from the “What is an HVAC System” article, you will remember that your condenser unit cools the refrigerant in your system. To do this, it needs plenty of air flow. If your condenser unit is dirty cool the refrigerant efficiently.
If you have a lot of bent fins or if you have plant life, solid fences, sheds, or other structures too close to your condenser, the air flow is being restricted. This could also be preventing your air conditioner from operating properly.
Fixing this is not that difficult. If your condenser is dirty, clean all the debris from around it and wash it off with a hose.
If the fins are bent, you can use a fin comb to straighten them again.
If the air flow is restricted by trees and bushes, trim them. If buildings or structures are too close, move them.
3. Is it an electrical problem?
Check your fuse box. Is the circuit breaker for your air conditioner tripped? If it is, flip it back on.
Check the disconnect outside. It is located near your condenser unit. Make sure it is turned on.
4. Are your evaporator coils dirty?
Your evaporator coils are where the magic happens in your air conditioning system. If they are dirty, your air conditioner will not be able to transfer the heat from the air in your home to the refrigerant.
If your evaporator coils are dirty, you will have to call a professional to clean them. They are inside your system and I don’t recommend taking that apart on your own.
5. Is your refrigerant low?
If your refrigerant is low, it can’t effectively transfer heat. There is not much you can do about this. You will need to call a professional to check your refrigerant level and add more if needed.
If your air conditioner is blowing hot air and you are not sure how to diagnose it, call a professional. It is a good idea to spend a little money for a professional to prevent permanent damage to your HVAC system.
So, you are sitting in your living room asking yourself
“why does my air conditioner smell bad?”
Well, let me tell you.
A smelly air conditioner is not uncommon. There are a lot of things that can cause your air conditioner to smell bad.
Let’s start with identifying the odor.
The two most common odor complaints are smelly sock and rotten eggs.
When you get a big whiff of the air coming out of your vent’s, does it smell like mold/mildew/dirty socks or does it smell like you forgot to pick up the Easter eggs and they are rotting in your air vent?
Let’s tackle the dirty sock smell first.
The dirty sock smell is caused by mold or mildew in your system. The two places you could have mold or mildew at is in your ductwork or on your evaporator coil.
Dirty ducts can breed mold. It can get in there and spread.
The evaporator coil is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. You have warm air blowing across damp coils. If dirt gets in there, mold and mildew can start breeding.
The other thing that can cause the dirty sock smell is a clogged drain line.
If your air conditioner drain gets clogged, the standing water can breed mold and bacteria. That odor will get sucked into your vents and distributed through your home.
How do I fix it?
If you smell dirty socks in your vents, you should first make sure it is not just dirty socks your kid stuffed in the air vent.
If your vents are sock free, check around your indoor HVAC unit. Look for water in the drain pan or around your system. If there is no water in the drain pan or around your unit, you probably do not have a clogged drain.
At this point, you will probably need to call a professional. The only way to be sure there is mold or mildew on the evaporator coil or inside your duct work is to visually inspect it.
Once there is confirmation of a mold or mildew presence, you will need to have it cleaned and identify the reason it formed in the first place. If you just clean it, it will come back.
Now on to the rotten egg smell.
If you smell rotten eggs in your home, first check to make sure all the Easer eggs were found. If it’s not an actual rotten egg, it’s probably a dead animal in your duct work or near your HVAC system.
Trouble shooting this is straight forward. The smell will be worse the closer you get to it. Find the vent that the smell is the worst. Then call a pest control specialist and point them in that direction.
Stinky air coming out of your vents is not only unpleasant but it is also unhealthy. If your air conditioner smells bad, you need to have a professional come out and fix the problem. Don’t breathe dirty air.
“Why does my air conditioner freeze?” is a common question.
It’s hard to believe your air conditioner can freeze in 90° weather. It does happen though and fixing it may be easier than you think.
So, why does your air conditioner freeze?
Your air conditioner can freeze for a few different reasons.
Insufficient air flow across the evaporator coil.
If your coil is not getting enough air flow, it is not transferring the heat properly from your home to the refrigerant in your air conditioning system. This will cause the refrigerant temperature to continually drop and eventually freeze.
To fix this, start by checking your air filter. Make sure it is not clogged and blocking your air flow. Checking your air filter is the equivalent to restarting your computer when you are having computer problems. 9 times out of 10, it is the first thing you should do.
If your air filter is clean and your system is still freezing, check your vents. Make sure your vents are not blocked. If your return vent is covered, your cooling system might not be able to draw enough air in.
Your cooling system is designed to have a specific amount of refrigerant. If the refrigerant level gets too low it throws off the pressure of the system and can cause freezing. If airflow is not the problem, you will need a professional to check your refrigerant levels and recharge your system, if needed.
An air conditioner is a complicated system with a lot of moving parts. If you have good air flow and the proper amount of refrigerant and your air conditioner is still freezing, you probably have a mechanical failure someplace in your system.
This could be a kink in the refrigerant line, a broken blower motor, or various other mechanical problems. It is best to call in a professional to troubleshoot and repair your system.
There are a lot of things that can go wrong with your cooling system. Make sure you check what you can before you call someone.
You don’t want to sit in your home sweating while you wait for the service technician to come if all you had to do was change the filter.
On that same note, you don’t want to go beyond your capabilities either. Don’t start taking your air conditioner apart if you don’t know what you are doing. You may cause more damage or get injured just trying to save a couple bucks.
Air conditioner technology has been advancing over the years.
If you have an old air conditioner, it has two speeds – Full blast and off. Basically, your thermostat tells your air conditioner to cool your home. Your air conditioner turns on at full power and runs until your thermostat tells it to stop. This is the way old systems work. There are many reasons to stop using that technology.
How does a variable speed air conditioner work?
When your thermostat tells your variable speed air conditioner to cool off your home it turns on at a low speed. It goes to higher speeds based on how much you need to cool. If you turn your thermostat from 90 to 60 it will most likely go to full power. If your thermostat is telling your air conditioner to cool your home 1 or 2 degrees then it will probably turn on the lowest speed.
What are the benefits of a variable speed air conditioner?
There are a lot of benefits to a variable speed air conditioner. Here are the top 5:
- Energy efficiency: Since your air conditioner will turn on at lower speeds, it is more energy efficient. An old system will run at 100% power when all it needs is 20%.
- Better indoor air quality: With your variable speed air conditioner running longer at lower speeds, you will be pushing more air through the filter and circulating more air through your home. As long as you change your filter when needed, your indoor air quality will improve.
- Quieter: Your air conditioner will not be turning on full blast when it is not needed. That makes the operation a lot quieter. You may not even hear it turn on.
- Better comfort: With the variable speed air conditioner running longer at lower speeds, you will have a more consistent temperature throughout your home.
- Less wear and tear: A variable speed air conditioner will run longer than an older one but it will turn on and off less. This will decrease wear and tear on your system.