Most homeowners don’t think of their air conditioner as a piece of equipment that uses some of the latest technology. It is just that big box outside that has been cooling your home forever. But inside that box and the indoor unit, many components must all work in unison to keep your home cool and comfortable all summer long. And much like other complex pieces of equipment, when one thing goes wrong, the issues begin to compound very quickly. In most cases, all a homeowner’s AC issues can be traced back to a lack of proper maintenance, which led to the following problems.
Dirty Air Filter
The most common misconception about air conditioner filters is that their purpose is to clean the air you breathe. While that is a significant benefit of the filter, the primary job is to clean the air entering the HVAC system. Dust and dirt are hard on the intricate components and electronics inside the unit. The filter catches the offending dust before it can enter and begin to damage the AC. But when the filter is not replaced regularly, the dirt encases the filter and severely reduces the airflow inside the AC. That adds unnecessary stress to every part of the system and leads to the early failure of many parts.
The two primary fans in an AC unit work to distribute hot and cool air. And when one fan fails, the other quickly becomes overworked and fails. The most common cause of fan failure is dirt on the fan blades. The added weight stresses the motor and can cause the fan to become imbalanced. When the outdoor fan fails first, it stops removing hot air from your home and often causes the unit to overheat. When the indoor fan is the first to succumb to the dirt, it fails to circulate the cold air. The result is typically a frozen coil.
Each fan works in tandem with a coil to keep your home cool. The outdoor coil is a condenser, and the indoor coil is an evaporator coil. They transfer the hot and cool air that the fans circulate. When these coils are not properly cleaned, they become covered in dirt and dust, which traps heat on the condenser side, causing the unit to overheat. The dirt retains too much cool air on the evaporator side and causes ice to form and freeze the coil. Both force your AC to work harder than necessary and increase the potential for worn-out parts throughout the equipment.
Leaking refrigerant is the one common issue that is not related to lack of cleaning but is attributed to improper care of an AC unit. When refrigerant is correctly installed in an AC system, it should never need to be replaced. It is a closed system that should never leak. But when it is not installed correctly, it leaks out, making the unit far less efficient. Soon it has very little cooling capability. To meet the demand of the thermostat, the AC will constantly run, wasting energy and money but not producing any cool air. If your AC ever develops a refrigerant leak, only trust an AC professional to correct the problem. The refrigerant should only be replaced after the leak is located and repaired.
If you notice that your air conditioner is not keeping your home as comfortably cool, or your energy bill is skyrocketing, call (406) 823-3680. The HVAC experts at Mountain Valley Plumbing & Heating will evaluate the system and provide you with a complete price quote for any necessary repairs or service.