During a Florida summer, we rely on a few important things –at home it’s our air conditioning unit. An air conditioner can make life comfortable when temperatures climb… but how do you know when you can no longer rely on your AC system? Maybe you’ve noticed it doesn’t seem to cool or run as efficiently as it used to. Like all appliances, your air conditioner won’t last forever, although you will get a good life out of a well-maintained system. While it depends on your unit, the climate you live in and how often you use it, a regularly serviced air conditioner will last much longer than one that is not. Even a well-maintained air conditioner of a certain age might run into problems. So, we’ve prepared a list of the top signs that indicate it’s time to replace your air conditioner sooner than later. If you recognize any of the signs, call in professionals such as Dayton Heating & Air to see if repair is an option, or to give you an estimate on a replacement unit.
1. Inconsistent air temperatures or diminished air flow One of the most common problems in an older air conditioning unit is that it just doesn’t cool or heat. It may still produce regular air levels, but the air isn’t coming out cold or hot as per its settings. From time to time during regular use, you may experience some warm air on a cool setting, but if your unit stops producing cool air entirely, it’s time to investigate and vice versa for heating. It may mean low refrigerant levels. Inconsistent temperatures are a sign of trouble too. Your air conditioner is supposed to provide a consistent air temperature at the setting you’ve chosen. When certain rooms become cold zones, and others don’t seem to get any cool air at all, it could mean your air conditioning unit is on the way out. During operation is there little or no cool air coming out of the vents? A significant decrease in air flow could be another sign that your air conditioner is on its last leg. If your thermostat is set to a reasonable temperature and your home is still too warm, then your air conditioning system is not working at its optimum level. Again, check filters first, but If your unit is producing inconsistent air, have a professional inspect the filters, valves, condensation drains and coils for air flow obstructions. But be prepared, a replacement unit may be needed.
3. It’s making strange noises A fully functioning air conditioning system should operate smoothly. If you know your unit well, you’ll be familiar with any little sounds it makes as it cycles. In fact, those noises will be a regular part of your home sounds. So, when you hear noises different from the norm, it’s time to act. Minor noise changes could simply indicate the need for some repairs or maintenance. Perhaps the fan isn’t working properly, or one of the parts inside the unit has become loose, or an internal mechanism has become clogged. However, if the noise is a little stranger – such as screeching, grinding, grating, rattling, buzzing or ticking, this could indicate a serious problem!
4. Your unit is leaking refrigerant or producing excess moisture For the most part, your air conditioning unit should stay dry whether or not it’s in use. If you notice moisture inside the house, a sudden increase in condensation or a leak, ask a professional air conditioning technician to inspect it straight away for safety reasons (electrical components and water are not a good combination). Speaking of leaks some units may encounter refrigerant leaks; refrigerant should only ever be handled by a professional due to the health risks it poses. Your air conditioning specialist will locate the source of the leak and let you know the most cost-effective course of action.
5. Your unit is short cycling It’s normal for your air conditioner to cycle on and off to maintain a set temperature throughout your home. However, has your unit developed a tendency to switch itself off randomly? Or does it sometimes have difficulty getting started? If you notice that it is turning on and off more frequently than usual, it is possible that your unit is malfunctioning. Short cycling puts extra stress on your air conditioner and could cause it to fail entirely if not handled quickly. Call a technician, and with any luck it may just be a failing capacitor. But it may mean it’s time for a new unit.
6. Your energy bills have dramatically increased Even if your unit appears to be functioning ‘normally’, one of the biggest telltale signs there may be a major problem can be found on your energy bill. Has it spiked suddenly, and you aren’t sure why? Undertake an ‘energy audit’ and consider other factors that may have caused your energy bill to increase. This will help you to work out whether your air conditioning is the culprit behind a surge in energy costs. If all roads lead to your unit being the source of the extra power, then you need to determine why it has become significantly less efficient. Perhaps your air conditioning system is overworking? Diminished cooling capacity will raise energy costs as your unit struggles to maintain the desired temperature ineffectively. Try cleaning the air vents, replacing the filters and then have a HVAC Professional check the units refrigerant level and for a possible dirty or damaged coil. Of course, it may be an energy drain simply because it has become sluggish and is reaching the end of its working life.
7. Your unit requires frequent repairs (and is out of warranty) Has your trusty air conditioning unit become more trouble (and expense) than its worth? In an ideal world, your unit should be serviced twice a year to keep it well maintained, clean and in tip top shape. Occasionally, you may need an extra service or repair. However, if your air conditioning system is constantly in need of mending and repairing, multiple times per year, then you may have to call time on this unit - replacing your air conditioner may simply be the more economical and efficient option. Usually, you can factor in one major repair or part replacement. However, if serious repairs occur later in the unit’s life, they serve as a warning of future issues. If your unit needs a complex repair after the warranty expires, that’s a sure sign to request an estimate on a new unit instead of pouring money into an old one with a limited life.
So do you recognize any of these signs? Don’t wait. If you notice any of these signs that your air conditioning is malfunctioning, it’s time to call in the professionals at Dayton Heating & Air. To stay comfortable during the summer months, it’s vital to carry out any necessary repairs, or if it proves to be more cost effective, it may be time to part ways with your unit and invest in a brand new more energy efficient one with a warranty. Acting now will let you get back to enjoying a trouble-free, energy-efficient Florida summer or winter.