Air conditioners today have better efficiency and higher quality parts than air conditioners from 10 years ago – even the top-of-the-line ACs from 10 years ago. That’s just the advancement of technology, and with advancement comes more reliability too. Nevertheless, just like everything else we buy, there is a certain life expectancy to each product. It's common sense: the better you take care of something, the longer it will last – and that’s no different with ACs. So, we turned to our resident expert, Keith Hill, technical support manager at Minnesota Air, for some of the most common air conditioner problems you may run into as it ages or if it needs a little maintenance.
Problem 1: It Won’t Cool
This is a very common issue for many homeowners. If your AC system isn’t cooling your home, or it's taking way too long to cool down your house, there may be an issue with the outdoor unit or coil on the outdoor unit. It’s all related to airflow; if it gets clogged with dirt or debris then it can overheat.
“If the outdoor unit is neglected and dirt, cottonwood, etc., is allowed to build up, or the shrubs are untrimmed impeding the airflow, it results in the compressor working much harder,” says Keith. “As the airflow is diminished, the output is reduced more and more until it results in a poor cooling condition, or if allowed to continue, the unit will trip off on a safety device resulting in no cooling.”
He says that if your AC does this over and over again, it can lead to more wear and tear on your compressor and that means your AC will likely go bad sooner than it should.
Keep your outdoor unit clean and you will have far fewer issues with cooling.
Problem 2: It Won’t Turn On
This is yet another issue that has to do with airflow. If you know your thermostat is on and set to the correct settings, then you may have a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. However, an improperly maintained air conditioner – one that has a dirty filter, dirty coil, etc. – can cause that poor cooling that we spoke of above, and can also lead to failure.
“Under this condition, the air conditioner is working harder with less air and eventually it may freeze the coil, or worse, it may permanently damage the compressor."
Call a pro if you notice that your system won’t go on after checking the circuit breaker and changing the filter. And if you notice that it’s a reoccurring problem, call in a professional regardless.
Finally, there are also times where your AC may not run because you signed up for an energy saver program through your utility company.
“Many power companies will reduce your electrical rate if you allow them shut off the AC from time to time. Be aware that you have it before you call for service,” says Keith. “Some have lights on the electrical control box outside that tell you when they are controlling your AC. Check with your power company for more information.”
Problem 3: There Is Rust Or Moisture
Rust and moisture are not good signs for your unit. It means that there is wear and tear, corrosion, and possible electrical issues looming.
“Capacitors, contactors, relays, transformers and motors are all part of every HVAC system. Usually when any of these components fail it causes a ‘no cool’ condition,” says Keith.
Besides wear and tear leading to the breakdown of those parts, he says that other factors include power supply issues, lightning strikes, and water or condensation building up on the unit and causing it to fail.
“In Minnesota, we don’t run our AC units as much as in the south, but we have long and wet winters. The outdoor portion of the AC unit has to sit outside through all of that,” says Keith, “But it’s not the snow and rain that causes trouble, it’s the condensation that can build up if the unit doesn’t breathe.”
That’s why he warns homeowner to buy only a breathable cover for your unit if you insist on shielding it during the winter.
“Wrapping it in a tarp or plastic sheeting will allow for sauna-like conditions inside, causing corrosion to the electrical components. Buy a special cover that breathes, or don’t cover it at all; it is not required by most manufacturers,” he says.
If you feel like an issue is too big to fix safely and easily by yourself, then it’s best left in the hands of a professional. Call the team at StayComfyMN.com, and they will help you find a solution.