With spring and summer approaching, you want to make certain that your air conditioner is in proper working order. One of the biggest problems with your cooling system, however, is that it might fall into disrepair after disuse during the winter months. That’s why it’s important to test it before the season starts in order to assess its performance. If you aren’t sure what to look for, check for these signs that your Charlotte home’s air conditioner needs maintenance.
Low Air Flow
A telltale sign that your air conditioner is in need of some extra care is low airflow. This problem stems from a variety of causes, but most often it’s one of two things. The first problem is that your ductwork is suffering from leaks or blockages. Over time, ducts separate, causing air to escape. Dust accumulation is another nemesis, as it creates an obstruction of air flow. The other problem is a failing compressor, although this is much harder to diagnose and usually needs a professional inspection.
Lack of Cooling Power
When an air conditioner is functioning correctly, it should begin to blow cool air within a few minutes of turning down the thermostat. Failure to do so means that it needs an inspection. Typically, a lack of cool air means that one of the components of the air conditioner has malfunctioned, but it can also a symptom of low refrigerant levels. At the very worst, lack of cooling power could mean the entire system has broken down. If this is the case, a new air conditioner could actually be the cheaper way to address the problem.
Another reason to get air conditioning maintenance is to prevent foul odors from wafting through your air vents after turning on the unit. Like other HVAC problems, it’s tough to decipher the exact cause of odd smells without an examination, but most often they’re the result of malfunctioning electrical components, mold, or a leak. Electrical and burning odors waft out of the vents when there’s a problem with the blower on the air conditioner, while a musty smell signals mold in the system. Regardless of which odor you detect, this can be a dangerous situation that needs a fix before your air conditioner or air quality suffers.
Excessive Utility Costs
Even if your air conditioner is blowing cold air, that doesn’t mean nothing is wrong. The best way to make sure your air conditioner is running smoothly is to compare your most recent utility bills to the cost of last year’s bills. If there’s no change, the unit is probably working just fine. If there’s a substantial variance, however, it’s yet another sign that you need maintenance. Before you panic, remember to change your air filter, as this is sometimes the sole reason for poor performance. If you’ve already installed a new filter, you might have a more complex and severe problem.
Loud or Excessive Noise
Most air conditioners come equipped with noise suppressors to ensure a quiet hum while they’re in operation. If you notice that your air conditioner is making loud noises or continual, excessive noise, maintenance is necessary. Most often this is a sign that the motor is beginning to go bad or that electrical components loosened and are rattling around inside the unit’s housing. Either way, this is not a problem for the average homeowner to address. It needs expert attention.
You should always ask how old the air conditioner is before you buy a home. The reason for this question is that most air conditioners last for only 10 to 15 years. After that, so many things go wrong that it’s more economical and efficient to replace the entire unit. Even when the unit gets into the eight- or nine-year range, you may need to think about more frequent maintenance or budgeting for a new one.
No matter what problem your air conditioner has encountered, Ross & Witmer can help. With an experienced and knowledgeable team of technicians, you’ll know you’re in good hands. Give us a call today at 704-392-6188.