Before we get into air conditioner repair, let’s give a brief history of the air conditioner and some vocabulary that should help you out. What an air conditioner essentially does is use energy to transfer heat from the interior of your home to the relatively warm outside environment. Before air conditioners were even a thing, people cooled their home by saving big blocks of ice. When these cooling machines became popular, they were rated according to their capacity by the equivalent amount of ice melted in a day. This lead to the term ‘ton’, which is still used in air conditioning lingo today. A ton is measured at delivering 12,000 British Thermal Units (BTU) per hour of cooling. Typically, a window air conditioner is less than one ton, and a large home central air conditioner is equal to five tons. Air conditioners are sized to meet a certain ‘load’ on the house and have a certain amount of refrigerant (charge). There’s also a particular amount of airflow that travels across the coils. All of these components work together in a delicate balance to give you a cool, dehumidified home.
1. Fire Hazards
It’s important to consider the consequences of ignoring a necessary air conditioner repair. According to the National Fire Protection Association, air conditioners, fans, and related equipment can be a major cause of fires in homes, resulting in 7,400 home structure fires in 2010 alone. That year, there were 29 civilian deaths and 249 civilian injuries due to air conditioner fires, on top of $207 million in direct property damage. The cause of these fires has to do with mechanical or electrical failures without failure mode specifics. One-third of fire-related incidents began with ignition of wire or cable insulation. The peak month for these accidents is June, July, and August, so early Spring is the best time to invest in air conditioner repair or replacement. The NFPA listed off some ways you can prevent air conditioner accidents, including:
- Safe Use of Air Conditioning
- Select and install cooling equipment for safety and effectiveness.
- Use electric-powered equipment safely, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
- Inspect and maintain electric-powered equipment regularly for safety.
- Make sure your equipment has the label showing that it is listed by a recognized testing laboratory.
2. Health Problems
Besides fires, health problems are another issue that factor into air conditioner repair. The Huffington Post did an article on how you can keep your air conditioner from affecting your health by following a few, easy steps. Air conditioning units that are outdated or poorly maintained correlate with poor health conditions and the spread of some diseases.
Air duct cleaning is recommended if you notice a visible mold growth or buildup of dust. Since the indoor section of an air conditioning unit produces condensation during the Summer (the AC is constantly running), this is normally the ideal time for mold to develop. If left dormant over the Winter, the mold can spread to the point where your respiration is affected. You’ll be able to tell it’s gotten to that point if you pick up a dirty sock odor in your home. Blower wheels and motors attract dust as well, so keep an eye out for that.
If you’ve recently renovated your home (especially to remove asbestos or lead-based paint), it’s imperative to follow up on the condition of your air conditioner. Debris can get caught in your ductwork, so perform basic maintenance like changing the filter to ensure airflow is running at maximum capacity. Having a dirty filter invites allergens, pesticides, and outside irritants into your home. A good way to reduce the cost of your AC is to ensure that window units are properly sealed to keep out warm air from outside. It’s imperative to have an HVAC technician perform annual maintenance checks on your air conditioner to ensure your home is safe.
3. Leaky Ducts
If you feel your air conditioner isn’t running at 100%, your system might be suffering from duct leakage. In can sap up to 40% of the energy from an air conditioner, costing you a lot of money in cooling. Outside ducts should be well insulated with mastic, sticky stuff that you can paint on the ducts. You may get an extra half ton of air conditioner capacity just buy fixing the leaks.
4. Clean the Coils
These thin pieces of metal can’t be cleaned by direct touch—there’s a spray you can get that cleans them for you though. The coils help create condensation for cooling, so you have to make sure that they don’t get filled with dust.
5. Purchasing a New Unit
If air conditioner repair just hasn’t done the trick and you’re getting a new air conditioner, take into consideration the climate of your home. If you live in a hot, dry climate, it’s a good idea to look at the Energy Efficiency Rating (EER) to check how well the system works in your conditions. You may even need a system that can dehumidify. Drier climates need to pay attention to their indoor evaporator coil, since higher airflow is better than lower airflow. For humid areas, higher airflow isn’t always a good thing. Higher airflow means less dehumidification, so your home will stay as sticky as it is outside. However, airflow that gets too low may cause the evaporator coil to freeze, making performance worse and possibly damaging the compressor. It’s recommended that you purchase high efficiency equipment at a SEER 13 level.
6. Increased Efficiency
You can reduce the pressure on your air conditioner by reducing the internally generated loads that your air conditioner has to deal with. You can help your air conditioning by changing some things about your home as well. For one, you can increase the insulation in your home. Shade the windows. If you’re putting on new roofing, opt for the ‘cool’ roofing that can save half a ton of cooling and energy. Utilize local exhaust fans to remove heat and humidity from kitchens and baths, and buy Energy Star appliances to ensure you’re not wasting energy. Shutting interior doors can cause the central AC systems to go wonky, creating less airflow in the entire house. Keeping doors slightly ajar will help combat this.
One of the key roles of an air conditioner is to ventilate your home. Proper ventilation ensures contaminants generated inside the house are knocked out. The ventilation level should be at the point where the air inside the house is exchanged every four hours. Older homes with leakier walls and ducts don’t always require as much ventilation. Since new homes don’t have these leaks, they require mechanical ventilation to get on the same level.
Condensers (the things outside of your house) should have about a foot of clearance on all sides. That means no invasive bushes that might interfere with air intake. You should also install condensers or window units on the north or east side of the house to protect it from direct sunlight. Direct sunlight on your condenser has been found to reduce air conditioner efficiency by as much as 10%. If you have to put your condenser on the south or west side, consider getting a screen to shield it from the sun.
Installing a timer is a great way to make sure that you’re not wasting energy cooling an empty home. Central units only require a programmable thermostat to adjust temperatures when you’re gone (ie: warmer when you’re gone and cooler when you’re home). If you have a newer window unit, chances are you already have a built-in timer and adjustable thermostat. If not, you can buy one at a home store for $10-$20. Don’t shut off the system completely unless you’re going on vacation. It takes a lot out of your air compressor to cool your house once you’ve had it off for a while.
A filter’s job is to load up the particles collected from your home’s air. As it collects more particles, it actually does its job better. However, it also increases the resistance and reduces on airflow once it reaches a certain point. Changing a filter is much cheaper than taking the old one out without replacement and then letting all the particles build up on your evaporator coil (causing it to fail). The lifespan of your filter depends on how dirty your air is and how big the filter is. When a filter becomes too dirty, it even contributes to the pollution. Through us, you can purchase air filters and air cleaners to achieve your home’s air optimal freshness. An air cleaner destroys harmful airborne contaminants, increases the efficiency of your comfort system, reduces odors, and lowers operating costs.
Our air conditioner repair services will ensure you never have to be sweaty or sick in your own home. Our expert technicians go through over 100 hours of training each year to ensure you get the service you deserve. If you’re not satisfied with the results, we’ll do everything in our power to make sure your compensated for any air conditioner repair mistakes. We’re available 24/7, so contact us today for all your air conditioner repair and replacement needs!