Few things ruin a summer like an air conditioner that breaks down or blows lukewarm air. But there is a lot that homeowners can do to keep their AC repair costs down.
As part of AC maintenance, your technician will inspect the equipment and clean system components. Here’s how to do some of those jobs yourself.
The compressor is a vital component of the air conditioning system. It takes in liquid refrigerant and uses it to compress the gasses inside your home. If your compressor suffers significant damage, the repair costs can be high and you may need to replace it entirely.
Many contaminants from outside can wreak havoc on your compressor. Acids, grime, leaves, minerals and bird droppings can all make their way into your air conditioning unit and cause it to stop working properly. Regularly scheduled service with a qualified technician helps prevent these elements from getting into your compressor.
The condenser coils and evaporator coils will be inspected to ensure that the proper amount of air is flowing through them. The coils will be cleaned of any accumulated dirt, twigs and debris that can restrict airflow. The compressor itself will also be inspected for any excessive oil levels or low pressure that could indicate a leak. There are two main types of compressors: hermetic and semi-hermetic. A hermetic compressor has a one-piece welded steel casing that cannot be opened for repair, while a semi-hermetic compressor has a gasketed cover that can be opened to access the motor and compressor components.
Your air conditioner’s evaporator coils are the part that absorbs heat from your home. It works with your compressor and condenser to complete the AC system’s continuous loop of heat exchange and transfer. A refrigerant leak disrupts this process, and it can cause your cooling to fail.
Your evaporator coil should last 10 to 15 years, as long as you have regular maintenance performed on it. During that time, it can absorb up to 12,000 BTUs of heat before it begins losing efficiency.
Dirty evaporator coils are a common problem and can result in poor airflow throughout your home. You can prevent dust buildup by changing your air filter frequently, sweeping the indoor evaporator coils regularly, and having your HVAC professional clean them during your routine maintenance visits. If your evaporator coil is severely dirty, you may need to use a power-washing technique or heavy-duty chemicals to clean it. Always use a professional to handle this type of work, as refrigerant is toxic and can be harmful if handled improperly.
Few things can ruin summer fun faster than an air conditioner that’s broken down or blowing lukewarm air. Fortunately, many AC problems are simple to diagnose and fix.
A thermostat is a low-voltage control device that connects to your furnace and/or air conditioning unit and acts as a switch to turn the equipment on and off automatically, based on your desired temperature setting and/or programmed time schedule.
The low-voltage wires that run between a thermostat and your heating or cooling equipment are all marked with letters or numbers to indicate their specific function. Refer to your thermostat manufacturer’s wiring diagram for precise connection information.
If your thermostat has a mercury switch, check to make sure it’s tilted up, which allows electricity to flow through the circuit and power the heater or air conditioner. If the switches are off, or if the batteries are dead, replace them. Then try switching the thermostat to another heating mode if necessary, and then back to cooling mode.
The air duct system is a network of rigid or flexible tubes that convey the conditioned air from the furnace, air handler and/or air conditioner to the rooms in the home. The ductwork includes the plenum, which is the entry point of the tubing and a register in each room where the conditioned air is discharged.
A properly functioning ductwork system allows warm or cool air to reach all parts of the house and promotes healthy indoor air quality by reducing allergens, mold spores, insulation fibers and chemical fumes. The ductwork also vents the small amount of toxic carbon monoxide that is produced by your furnace or air conditioner.
The ducts should be regularly cleaned to remove dust and dirt and to prevent condensation, which can lead to rust or mold. If you notice that your ductwork has holes, tears or leaks, you should have a professional inspect the ductwork for repair and replacement. The cost of the project can vary significantly depending on the size of your home and whether the ductwork is located in an attic or crawl space.