Minor air conditioning warning signs are easy to ignore or overlook altogether! Stay alert to small changes just as you would the little messages your car murmurs from time to time and have your unit evaluated by a professional. Postponing diagnostic service is the last thing you should do and delaying repairs may be a very costly mistake. By calling for a professional evaluation as soon as you notice symptoms, you may well prevent or delay the expense and inconvenience of a big repair job.
You may notice…
- A jump in the utility bill. A dramatic rise in your power bill means your air conditioner is working too hard until proven otherwise!
- Decreased air flow. Change or wash your air filter at least every 3 months. You should change it as frequently as once a month if you have pets, a dusty hobby, open your windows or doors a lot, or have a big family or lots of company. Ductwork accumulates dust and debris over time, slowing airflow, but ducts can also develop holes and cracks which leak cooled air. Make sure all vents and registers are open and unblocked by furnishings. The outdoor portion of your air conditioner can become obstructed by yard litter limiting airflow. If you’ve renovated or redesigned your space without recalculating the cooling load, the air conditioning equipment may no longer be able to properly cool the new space.
- The airflow is not cold or as cold as it used to be. There could be any one or even several reasons why your air conditioner might not be providing cool air such as a clogged air filter, a clogged return duct, compressor failure, or low refrigerant levels.
- Odd or nasty odors. A refrigerant leak may smell like acetone. A dirty filter or mold growing on components can cause a musty smell. Small animals can die in ducts or equipment which spreads the smell throughout the home. Dust accumulated over the heating elements during summer causes a mild burning smell for a short time when the heat is turned on.
- Odd new sounds, knocks, banging, clattering, buzzes, vibrations or rattles coming from the air conditioner. Your air conditioner will always make some degree of sound when it’s operating, but if it begins to run noisier than usual, or if it’s making noises you’ve never heard before, it needs to be checked – especially if the outdoor unit shudders when it kicks on.
- It cycles on and off more frequently than it used to. Air conditioning units sized too large for the space run inefficiently, cycling on and off too often. They never run quite long enough to circulate the air and remove humidity, making you uncomfortable.
- The outdoor air conditioner fan doesn’t come on. There is an electrical problem, and you need a trained professional to check that out.
- The air conditioner is encrusted with ice. Icing may be due to low airflow over the evaporator coil or low refrigerant levels.
- Excess moisture, leaks or water marks around the air conditioning unit. It’s normal for an air conditioner to cause condensation, especially when it’s humid, but the condensate should drain outside the house. It is not normal for leaks to contain refrigerant, which are harmful to your family, pets and environment.
- Splashes of oil on the unit’s components.A broken seal has caused a refrigerant leak. This should be fixed immediately because if the refrigerant is allowed to dissipate completely the compressor will be damaged.
- The air conditioner keeps tripping the circuit breaker.The job of the circuit breaker is to keep your home and appliances safe by shutting off the flow of electricity when the flow exceeds safe limits. This means your equipment needs a professional assessment needs but it could also mean you just need the coils and filters cleaned.
Air conditioner failure happens – even to newer equipment because they work so hard in the desert. But it doesn’t need to be a complete surprise if you keep your eyes and ears open! Intervene early and you’ll avoid the high repair bills and utility bills that typically accompany a poorly functioning air conditioning system.