The hotter it gets during the summer, the more calls we receive for air conditioner repair. And it’s not just because people are less likely to put off a repair when it’s 100 degrees outside. The hot, humid summer weather actually makes breakdowns more likely (which is why we encourage homeowners with older HVAC units to consider replacing them in the spring BEFORE they breakdown). Here are a few of the most common problems we see with air conditioners during the dog days of summer.
Low Refrigerant Charge:
Contrary to popular belief, air conditioners don’t actually consume refrigerant when they run. But the coils and refrigerant lines can develop tiny pinhole leaks that allow refrigerant to escape over time. This can lead to a low refrigerant charge. An undercharged air conditioner will have trouble cooling the air, which leads to longer run times, wasted energy, and even overheating. To correct this problem, a licensed HVAC technician will need to seal the leaks before adding more refrigerant.
Poor Air Flow:
Poor air flow to the HVAC unit can be caused in a number of ways. One common summer culprit is vegetation growing up around the unit, trapping the heat inside. This can cause inefficiency as well as overheating. Additionally, when the air conditioner is running more, the intake air filter gets dirty faster. That means it’s particularly important to replace that filter every month during the summertime. Dirty filters can also mean dirty coils. Having the coils checked and cleaned before the summer starts can help keep air moving freely over them.
Some of the electrical components of your HVAC system are more vulnerable to damage in the summer as well. For instance, it’s important to be extremely careful when using a weed whacker anywhere near your air conditioner. Not only can debris fly up into the unit, the trimmer itself can damage the fins on the outside and can even clip the electrical wiring. One of the HVAC parts that fails most frequently in the summertime is the capacitor. This electrical component can get overheated either by the increased workload or by excessive heat from the sun, or both.
While most of the above problems are things that can be repaired relatively easily, it’s important to note that if they’re allowed to continue without repair, any of them can lead to a much more expensive problem—compressor failure. Low charge, poor air flow, and electrical issues all have the potential to make the compressor overwork, overheat, and ultimately break down. That’s why it’s extremely important to call a licensed HVAC technician at the first sign your air conditioner isn’t working properly, rather than waiting. Even better is to help prevent these problems from occurring in the first place by having regularly scheduled maintenance done on your HVAC system in the fall and spring.