tracking pixel Main Causes of AC Failure and How to Prevent Them | HB Home
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In the course of daily life, you can easily forget that your air conditioning system needs maintenance. As long as the cool air is flowing, the equipment is largely out of sight and out of mind. Although professional service and maintenance are essential to ensuring long-term operation of your air conditioner, you can take many actions to prevent an air conditioner failure and even fix some problems on your own.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

On a central air conditioning system, the evaporator coil unit is inside your home and usually part of the furnace and blower assembly. The coil contains a refrigerant that could become too cold if warm air ceases to reach the coil material. The build-up of dirt and dust on the coil can effectively insulate it from the warm air being drawn in for cooling purposes.

When dirt and grime blocks refrigerant-filled coils from absorbing heat energy from warm air, ice can form on the coil. You may have heard this referred to as an air conditioner freezing up.

The result is that the air is not cooled. Only warm air will issue from your vents, or the system might stop moving air entirely. Before you experience these failures, the system will be strained during operation as the coils gradually lose their ability to function properly. Utility bills will creep up alongside declining cooling capacity.

Cleaning Evaporator Coils

You can avoid a frozen coil with regular cleaning. For safety, shut off the power to your AC system and then remove the panel to access the evaporator coil area. You’ll likely see visible dirt. You can remove dirt with any of these methods.

  • Blast off dust with compressed air
  • Gently scrub off dust with plastic bristle brush
  • Spray coil with commercial AC evaporator coil cleaner
  • Spray coil with mix of detergent and water and wipe off visible dirt

Dirty Condenser Coils

The outside unit of your air conditioner contains condenser coils. In this location, the external fan blower moves air over the coils to expel heat collected by the refrigerant before returning the refrigerant to the interior evaporator coil.

Soil, dust, leaves, and grass clippings that have collected on the condenser coils are a common source of AC decline and failure. If you live near a busy road or construction activity has recently started near your home, then you should clean your condenser coils frequently throughout the summer season. At a minimum, all homeowners will benefit from cleaning this area prior to the cooling season.

Choose a day for cleaning when it’s at least 60 degrees. You’ll want a shop vac and garden hose fitted with a spray nozzle.

  • Turn off power to unit
  • Vacuum all dirt and debris from exterior of unit
  • Remove top grill
  • Carefully pull aside fan assembly without disturbing wires
  • Wipe off fan blades
  • Pull out leaves, twigs, and other debris
  • Spray unit from inside out to dislodge more dirt from coils
  • Reassemble and reconnect power

Refrigerant Leaks

Air conditioners work hard. The equipment is exposed to heat. It vibrates. The elements can inflict damage to the exterior condenser unit. Due to these forces, leaks might develop in the refrigerant lines. The loss of refrigerant naturally causes your AC to perform poorly.

The problem of leaking refrigerant requires professional evaluation. Simply refilling the lines may not accomplish anything except more leaking. The licensed technicians at HB Home Service Team can inspect your air conditioner. We can locate and repair leaking lines. When this is not feasible, we can inform you about options for replacing a leaking air conditioner. 

Ideally, you’ll contact our maintenance team for a seasonal AC tune-up. We can catch and resolve emerging problems before they raise your energy bill and reduce indoor comfort.

Thermostat Malfunction

Sometimes your air conditioner is in good shape but still fails to work. In this situation, the electrical system could be the culprit. Electrical problems are most common in systems that get turned on and off frequently.

You might reduce the chances of this happening by limiting how often you switch the AC on and off. When weather is especially hot and humid, you might reduce strain on electrical components by raising the temperature setting instead of shutting the AC down.

Replacing your thermostat will likely be necessary when your original one is not communicating properly with the equipment. A programmable thermostat will also let you schedule different cooling settings based on your preferences.

Failing Fans

The blower fan and condenser coil fan must work smoothly to cool your home. A worn fan belt, distressed fan motor, dirt, and lack of lubrication are all sources of fan malfunctions. As a homeowner, you can clean the fans periodically to prevent blockages that impact the blade movement. Lubrication of fan belts will also help to extend the lifespan of a fan. You’ll probably want a professional technician when a belt or motor requires replacement.

Leaky Ducts

Ducts that allow air to escape will rob you of the cool air that your air conditioner has produced. You can find leaks if you can inspect your ducts in attics, crawl spaces, or basements. Make sure the system is running when you look at the ducts so that you can feel air escaping. Often, leaks at poorly formed duct joints are visibly obvious. Animals can also break ducts. Many leaks can be resolved with duct tape. If you encounter extensive damage, you may want to hire a professional to rebuild the duct.

Clogged Condensate Drain

Because your air conditioner removes moisture from the air during the cooling process, the system includes a condensate drain. A blockage in this small tube can damage the equipment and leak water into your home. When this goes undetected, you could end up with mold and ruined drywall. If the performance of your AC seems to be declining, you should investigate the problem promptly.

Algae and mold growth, dirt, and even insects can clog this tube. Homeowners can usually tackle the job of cleaning this drain. The drain tube is typically near your outside condenser unit. However, it could be inside and directed toward a floor drain or perhaps the drain for your washing machine.

  • Locate entry and exit points of drain line
  • Suck out blockages with wet dry vacuum
  • Pour a cup of white vinegar into entry point
  • Suck out blockages again in one hour

Trust HB Home Service Team for Indoor Comfort

HB Home Service Team has been in the heating, cooling, and plumbing business for generations. Our technicians continually update their credentials to keep pace with technological advances. Our customers rely on our expertise in heating and cooling, geothermal, water purification, back-up generators, water heaters, plumbing, and duct cleaning. We’ve earned nearly 10,000 five-star reviews by providing customers with honest advice and charging fair prices. To learn how we can make your home more efficient and comfortable, call us today at  717-232-4328 (Central PA) or 410-356-4016 (Baltimore Area) or schedule an appointment online