Air conditioning has become a necessity in the US. In the mid-1960s, only 10 percent of American households owned one. AC systems were a luxury. Back then, Americans dealt with the scorching summer hit in various ways like improvised cooling systems, electric fans, more frequent showers, sleeping outdoors, and even using cooled underwear.
But over the last couple of decades, the use of air-conditioning systems has become widespread. Breakthroughs in energy-efficient technology, the rise of the middle class, and the availability of AC systems have made cooling units accessible to more households.
Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine living without an air conditioner. Almost every American home (9 out of 10) is equipped with at least one AC unit. According to the US Energy Information Administration, space cooling accounts for 16% of residential electricity consumption in 2020. Every year, Americans spend around $7.2 billion on central air conditioning unit installation and replacement. This represents the largest home improvement expense, aside from bathroom and kitchen renovation.
Considering the importance of air conditioners in keeping our living spaces comfortable, you want to keep them in tiptop shape. Regular cleaning, maintenance checks, and tune-ups with experienced AC contractors can ensure the best AC performance.
It is vital to learn about the main causes of air conditioning malfunctions and be prepared should they happen. This will also help avoid unwanted and costly repairs.
Top Causes of Air-conditioner Failures
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As the main control of the motor, the thermostat is an important part of the AC system. If it is not working properly, the unit may fail to work or frequently turn on or off. Suspect faulty thermostat if the AC unit is unable to achieve the desired cooling of your space.
The air conditioner coil contains coolant or refrigerant that is responsible for absorbing hot air. But for the coolant to work properly, the coils need warm air circulating them. If the airflow is obstructed or inadequate, the evaporator coils can get too cold, eventually freezing and ice build-up. If the coils freeze, air exchange is impeded and the unit releases warm air or none at all.
According to AC replacement technicians from Hartman, the compressor, fan blades, contacts, and electrical connections are the most commonly damaged AC parts. These parts are most vulnerable to wear and tear. If your AC unit is already near its expected lifespan (around 8 to 10 years), it may be vulnerable to premature failure. Regular tune-up and maintenance can help detect worn and damaged parts before they lead to an emergency AC malfunction.
Meanwhile, if the AC unit does not turn on. Make sure to check the circuit breaker and fuse. In some cases, the air-conditioner is okay but the power supply is not. Allow the unit to cool down for 15 minutes, then reset the breaker or replace the fuse. If this doesn’t work, consider calling a licensed technician. It may have tripped due to the high-pressure limit.
Typically, air conditioning systems contain two fans – one that blows cool air into the room and another that expels hot air from the condenser or outdoor unit. If either of these fans stops working, the AC may not produce cool air or stop working altogether. Causes of fan problems include worn belts, too much debris or dirt, lack of lubrication, and a faulty motor. Fan problems need immediate attention or else they can lead to compressor failure, which is a major trouble that requires a costly repair.
The refrigerant should be maintained at the proper level to ensure the unit operates properly. Leaks can cause it to fall below the acceptable range. As a result, the compressor works harder to achieve the desired temperature. And since the refrigerant is an environmental hazard, any leak should be repaired immediately by a trained technician.
Neglecting annual maintenance
Finally, a common cause of AC malfunction is poor maintenance. Regular cleaning and tune-ups are essential to your AC’s performance. Depending on how frequent the unit is used, maintenance checks should be done at least once, usually before the summer season. Hire a licensed AC technician to inspect and clean your AC unit. Early detection of potential errors can save you from untimely malfunctions. Failure to follow recommended annual maintenance may void your manufacturer’s warranty.
While there are many possible causes of AC malfunction, the secret to keeping your unit in top performance will always be proper care and maintenance. A well-maintained AC system not only prevents problems but also increases its lifespan. Over time, you’ll realize that it’s a worthwhile investment.