Repair Or Maintenance Issue? Identifying Problems With Your AC

Posted on: 19 January 2022

The distinction between HVAC repair and maintenance issues can sometimes seem confusing and a little blurry. Of course, many poor maintenance habits will eventually lead to component failures and costly repairs, further blurring the line. As a homeowner, it's helpful to recognize the difference so you can understand how to address problems with your AC before they become more severe.

While it's never a bad idea to contact an HVAC contractor when in doubt, this guide will help you make a quick and dirty diagnosis of three problems you might be facing to determine if they originate with poor maintenance habits.

1. Humid Air and Short Cycling

One common AC complaint is a system that shuts down too quickly. This condition is known as short cycling, and it may indicate a frozen evaporator coil when accompanied by noticeably humid air. A frozen coil causes the compressor to overwork, ultimately triggering a safety shutdown, while the ice on the evaporator prevents moisture from draining away.

Repair or Maintain: Frozen evaporators can have numerous underlying causes, but poor airflow over the coils is one potential culprit. Start by checking and (if necessary) replacing your air filter. If this solves the problem, you'll need to increase the frequency of your filter changes to prevent future damage. Contact a professional if your system continues to short cycle even after replacing your filter.

2. Continuous Operation

At the opposite end of the scale, you may find that your air conditioner runs continuously without keeping your home cool or reaching your thermostat setpoint. Long cycling is equally problematic since it results in excessive wear while also wasting energy. Like short cycling, there are numerous possible reasons your system may be cycling for too long.

Repair or Maintain: Dirty condenser coils are one potential cause for an AC system running inefficiently and long cycling. Check your outdoor unit for signs of dirt, debris, mold, or other issues on the condenser fins. If they appear dirty, you'll need to clean them carefully using gentle water or a specialized brush. An expert can help you with further diagnosis if this doesn't solve the problem.

3. Water Near Air Handler

If you notice some water near your HVAC air handler equipment, don't panic (yet). Water from the air condenses on your evaporator coils, and your system needs to drain this water away. Most AC units include a drain hose to help keep water away from critical components, which is a likely source of moisture in this area.

Repair or Maintain: If you can locate your drain line, check for signs of water or dripping near the fitting. Water may back up in this area if the hose becomes clogged. You can maintain your drain line by periodically checking the drain and cleaning it. Contact a professional if you can't find the water source, since moisture in this area can damage your HVAC equipment.

To learn more about air conditioning maintenance, contact an HVAC contractor in your area. 


Summer is Upon Us – Is Your AC Working?

Hi. My name is Laurie Waters. The HVAC contractor was just out at our house last week and did I ever get a lesson from him. You see, we had a warm spell hit and I went to turn our air conditioning on for the first time since last summer. Much to my dismay, it wasn’t working. All I got was a blast of warm air. The fan was bringing the outdoor heat inside. Thank goodness it wasn’t anything major. My unit needed Freon. While he was here, the contractor taught me how to do some routine maintenance around my unit, vents, and filters. I’m going to share this information with you. I hope you find it to be useful.

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