Every air conditioning system requires regular maintenance in order to maintain the best performance. These regular cleanings will help to identify minor problems and fix them before they become larger, more expensive issues that could ruin the system.
AC Repair Encino can include simple solutions, like recharging refrigerant or identifying and fixing the source of a problem with the cooling cycle. Understanding some of these common AC repairs will help you feel confident during the process.
Replacing a dirty air filter is one of the simplest and least expensive AC repair tasks. A new filter can help keep your home cleaner and reduce the amount of dust that blows off furniture. It can also cut down on the humidity in your house. Too much humidity makes it hard to breathe and can cause mold and mildew.
Typically, you can find air filters in the attic behind your air handler or inside of each room’s return vents. To replace your air filter, you’ll need to shut off the unit, remove any access panels, and open a grate or unscrew a cover on the return vent. Then, you’ll need to open the filter — either by using your hands or a piece of paper — and pull out the old one. Be sure to look at the filter’s specifications and follow any instructions printed on it, like arrows that indicate which direction the air should be pulled through it.
A clogged or dirty air filter can restrict airflow through the system and shorten its cycle. It can also force the internal components to work harder, which can cause them to overheat and break. An unusual burning smell is another sign that you need to change the filter, and if your AC doesn’t turn on at all, it could be a serious problem that requires professional attention.
If you’re having trouble breathing or your allergies are getting worse, a dirty filter is probably the culprit. A clogged filter allows particles to exit the vents and settle on surfaces throughout your home, causing a noticeable reduction in indoor air quality.
If your air conditioner is blowing cool air at a slower and weaker pace, it’s likely due to a clogged filter or frozen evaporator coils. You may need to clean or replace the filter, as well as consider duct cleaning or moving the unit to a shadier spot. In some cases, the problem can be resolved with a thermostat or blower motor repair, but these issues are more costly to fix than simply changing an air filter.
Check the Condenser
The condenser of an AC system is located outside, or in the attic depending on the unit type. It is a large metal cylinder with copper tubes running from it to each of the indoor air handlers. It works by transferring heat from the house into the refrigerant that is used to cool your home. The condenser can be damaged by many different things, so it is important to have a regular air conditioning service schedule to keep it in top condition.
A common problem with the condenser is a faulty fan motor or compressor. Oftentimes, the first sign of a problem is a humming sound from the condenser fan, or that it won’t start at all. The reason this happens is that the capacitor isn’t functioning properly, and it cannot deliver enough stored energy to run either the compressor or fan motor.
If you notice that your fan isn’t working, you should turn off power to the circuit breaker and furnace switch. Then, you can remove the cover from the condenser and look for a burned, shorted or disconnected wire at the fan motor. If you find a problem with any of these, then it is time to call for an air conditioner repair service.
Another potential problem is a bad condenser capacitor. These are relatively inexpensive, so it’s important to replace them before they fail. Capacitors can degrade slowly, providing less startup power over time, or they can fail suddenly. If yours is experiencing a gradual decline, then you may want to consider replacing it every five years or so.
If you’re able to determine that the capacitor is the problem, then it is easy to swap it out. Make sure to shut off the power at the circuit breaker before you open up the panel. Then, remove the old one and take a picture of the tabs so you can refer back to it later. Discharge the capacitor by connecting it to a battery bank, and then use needle-nose pliers to remove each wire one at a time. Once the old capacitor is removed, connect each of the wires to their respective corresponding terminals on the new capacitor using the female crimp connectors. Then, repower the circuit breaker and furnace switch, and see if your fan and compressor now begin to operate properly.
Check the Evaporator
As the name suggests, this part of your air conditioning system helps cool your home by passing refrigerant over the evaporator coils. It is a critical component that may break down or become damaged if not properly maintained.
The evaporator coil, located inside the internal unit, should be cleaned and inspected for dust build-up and other debris that can restrict the flow of cooling air. It should also be checked for a hissing sound that could indicate the presence of a refrigerant leak. Your HVAC technician will clean the coils if needed and ensure they are free of any dirt or dust that has collected on them.
In addition, your technician will inspect the drip pan to see if it is full to the point of overflow. If the drip pan is overflowing it is likely that your evaporator coil is leaking refrigerant. If your evaporator coil is leaking, it will need to be replaced with a new one. This is not a task that should be completed by the homeowner as it is a complicated process that requires training and knowledge of HVAC equipment.
A leaking evaporator coil can lead to a loss of cooling power and can cause your AC to run longer than it should. This will increase your energy bills and cause the unit to wear down prematurely.
Another common issue with the evaporator is that it can stop working completely if there is a problem with the refrigerant. This is typically caused by a leak or a compressor that has worn out.
The best way to prevent these issues from arising is to schedule regular maintenance services with your HVAC contractor. These services will check for minor problems before they turn into larger, more costly ones. Skipping maintenance may save you a few dollars each month, but it will cost you many times more in repairs down the line. The simplest, most affordable way to keep your air conditioner in good condition is to get it regularly serviced. Then, if something does go wrong, it will only be a small part of the system that will need to be repaired instead of all of it.
Check the Thermostat
Thermostat issues can be frustrating to deal with, but they are often easy to resolve. For example, if your thermostat is set to cool when it should be set to heat or vice versa, it may simply need to be reset. This can be done by turning off the power to your thermostat at the breaker box (for line-voltage systems, that is). Then, change the setting to cooling or heating and turn it back on. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, check the batteries.
If the batteries are good and the breaker is not tripped, then a problem with the thermostat wiring may be to blame. To test this, shut off the breaker that controls the thermostat and open the cover. Make sure the wires are not loose or disconnected and that the screw terminals are tight. You can use a screwdriver to tighten the screws and a needle-nose pliers to twist any loose wires into place around the screw terminals.
In addition to making sure the connections are tight, you can use a multimeter to check that all terminals are receiving electrical signals. This will be able to tell you whether the wires are connected to the correct terminals. The terminals are usually labeled with letters such as G (fan), Y (AC), W (heater).
For a standard thermostat, it may also be necessary to clean the inside of the unit. If the thermostat is located in a window where it gets direct sunlight or near other sources of heat, it may be unable to accurately sense and regulate the temperature of the house. It is best to move the thermostat to a shadier location in the home.
If the thermostat is in a room that has multiple air vents, be sure to check all of the return and supply air ducts for blockages. Furniture, toys, and drapes can easily block the flow of air in the ducts. Checking the vents to ensure they are clear of blockades will help to resolve the AC problems you are experiencing. If you are still having trouble, then consider calling an AC repair service.