Five Common Reasons Why Your AC Stops Working
When our AC stops working, we are quick to turn the thermostat down low. But if there is a problem with your unit, changing the temperature isn’t going to help. Cranking your AC may actually lead to more problems.
Lately, those of us in Florida have been lucky enough to get some chilly weather. But this nice weather is packing up and moving out of the way for warmer days. We are all about to be sweating and cranking the AC down. Our cool homes are a little oasis in the sweltering Florida heat. Most of us cannot imagine a life in Florida without AC. Any Florida native will tell you that a busted AC unit is one of the worst things that can happen here.
The good news is that McCarthy Air Conditioning does offer 24/7 emergency service. But how do you avoid a broken unit? Why is it broken in the first place? We are going to explore some of the most common reasons your AC calls it quits. We will also look at some of the things you can do to avoid these issues and how McCarthy AC can help fix them.
1. Leaky Ducts
There are ducts inside the walls and ceiling of your home. These ducts connect to outlet points known as vents throughout your home. Ducts carry cool air from your AC unit to different places within your space. Vents allow that air into each room.
Sometimes, ducts can develop holes or tears that allow air to escape. When these holes exist, they stop cold air from getting into your house. Instead, cooled air swirls out into the dead space in your walls and ceilings. This problem is both a waste of energy and a strain on your AC unit.
Holes in leaky ducts are a result of a few things. The most common are improper installation and pest issues. Rodents sometimes chew through ductwork while moving around in a home or business. It is important to have regular pest control to avoid large problems going unnoticed. It is also important to have regular maintenance checks on your AC duct system.
Leaky ducts are hard to prevent. With regular checks and good pest control, they become easier to find and control.
How We Fix Leaky Ducts
First, we inspect all your ductwork to find the leak(s). We blast your AC to look for any obvious tears. We then use a fog machine to find less obvious leaks.
Once we locate all leaks, we double-check our work and inspect duct joints. Leaks can often hide where two pieces of duct connect.
Ducts are then sealed by a trained technician with proper tools and equipment. Some tears or holes may need more work than others. In extreme cases, ducts may need replacement.
2. Refrigerant is Low
If your AC is blowing hot air, you might be running low on refrigerant. Refrigerant is the chemical in your AC unit that helps keep everything cool. A good way to remember is that refrigerant sounds like the word refrigerator. Both are ways to keep something cold.
The refrigerant in your AC travels from the outside piece of your AC to the inside and back again. Both pieces have coils that the refrigerant runs along. The inside coils are evaporator coils. Refrigerant moves across these coils as a liquid to absorb their heat and cool a room. Outside coils are compressor coils. Refrigerant moves across these coils as a gas. That gas then releases the heat absorbed from inside. This is how refrigerants cool your home.
You can run low on refrigerant if there is a leak. Leaks are a result of many things such as extreme weather or rodents. Older units are also prone to leaks.
Low refrigerant is a small problem that quickly creates larger issues. When refrigerant is low, compressor problems are not far behind. Low refrigerant causes a change in pressure in the compressor. This change in pressure can cause your compressor to break.
How We Fix Low Refrigerant
First, we will rule out other possible reasons why your AC unit may be blowing hot air. We then examine your unit to find the source of the leak. A large leak is sometimes audible. You may hear a bubbling or hissing sound. There are several methods used to find the source of refrigerant leaks. At McCarthy Air Conditioning, we use electronic leak detectors.
Once we locate the leak, we measure refrigerant levels. The charge of the refrigerant is also checked. We then fix the problem by sealing the leak. Finally, we add the appropriate amount of refrigerant back into the line.
3. Problems with the Thermostat
Your thermostat is the device that controls the temperature of your AC unit. It’s a simple concept. You set the temperature by pushing an arrow up or down and then leave the AC alone to do its thing.
There are two types of thermostats, electronic and electromechanical. Most homes and businesses today use electronic thermostats. They work like a computer. Thermostats use a series of sensors to register the temperature in your home.
But like a computer, sometimes these sensors fail or break. When the sensors stop working, the thermostat becomes unreliable. This means that it may read 74, but all you’re feeling is hot air. Or maybe it’s reading 85 and you’re freezing your tuchus off. Either way, you end up adjusting the temperature much more often than needed. This ends up putting more strain on your system and breaking it further.
How We Fix Thermostats
Fixing a thermostat is not always an easy task. Electromechanical thermostats have a cover that hides their internal parts. You may be able to fix it by removing the cover and dusting the parts.
But electronic thermostats are a bit more tricky. They rarely have one easy fix. With that in mind, if you believe your thermostat is not working, call us sooner rather than later.
McCarthy Air Conditioning is well versed in fixing and repairing thermostats. We also offer Wifi thermostats.
4. Condenser Coils are Dirty
Condenser coils are in the large box outside of your home. That box is the condenser and it is basically the brain behind your AC. It houses many other important components for your AC Unit, as well. But for now, let’s focus on the condenser coils.
Condenser coils work by receiving the hot refrigerant from the condenser. The condenser increases the pressure on the gaseous refrigerant. This makes the refrigerant shift from a gas to a liquid. Once it is a liquid, the refrigerant enters the condenser coils. A fan on top of the condenser cools the liquid inside of the coils. This is how the heat absorbed from inside your home releases itself outside. The liquid then cycles back through the rest of the system.
Because these coils are outside, they have a tendency to get dirty over time. When condenser coils are dirty, they cannot release heat. This puts a strain on your AC and prevents it from functioning correctly.
The most common buildup on condenser coils is dust and yard debris. Yard debris is twigs, grass clippings, leaves, and even pet hair. A firm broom is a good tool for clearing obvious dirt and debris. You can also surround your condenser with a small fence. This will aid in preventing large debris from entering the coils.
How We Fix Dirty Condenser Coils
We will begin by taking a quick look at your condenser. Within a moment or two, we will be able to tell you if you have dirty condenser coils. Most people do and don’t even realize it.
Then, we will continue by cleaning out any large debris. We will also make sure the coils and the fins attached are clean. This usually involves a multi step process with scrubbing and spraying. Please do not attempt to do this yourself. The fins on condenser coils can be very fragile. Cleaning coils and fins needs a specific pressure.
Condensers located outside are more prone to dirt and debris. But even internal condensers need regular cleaning and maintenance.
We recommend two main points of action for keeping your coils maintained. First, we recommend having your coils cleaned at least twice a year. Second, we recommend keeping large debris away from your condenser when possible. Some people will recommend wrapping your condenser in plastic to keep it clean. This is not advisable. Wrapping it in plastic will trap moisture and lead to other problems in your AC.
5. Frozen Evaporator Coils
We have already mentioned evaporator coils a few times, now. They are the other important part of the heat pump inside of your AC. Evaporator coils are essential for cooling your home.
Evaporator coils receive cool, liquid refrigerant. Warm air in your home passes over the coils. The coils absorb that warmth and redirect it outside back to the condenser. In order for your evaporator to work, it has to be cooler than the air around it. It is a safe assumption to say your evaporator coils are always cold. When they lack the proper warm air circulation, they can freeze. There are several reasons evaporator coils freeze. The most common is dirty coils.
Like condenser coils, evaporator coils need regular cleaning. Dust and dirt naturally build up on any surface over time. Build up on your coils prevents proper air circulation. This causes the evaporator coils to stay too cold. This makes them more prone to freezing.
Frozen coils are not always obvious. Some signs of frozen coils are:
● Condensation or moisture around your air handler
● A full or overflowing condensate drain pan
● Ice around the copper refrigerant line outside
But sometimes identifying frozen coils is as easy as opening your air handler and seeing ice.
How We Fix Frozen Evaporator Coils
The first step to fixing your frozen coils is turning your AC system off. Your AC’s coils need a chance to warm up and thaw before they start working again.
We then run a series of tests to determine why your coils have frozen. Then, we wrap up by addressing the cause of your frozen coils. It is hard to detail exactly how we will fix your particular problem here. This is because there are so many different causes of frozen coils.
If you see ice, turn off your AC and call or contact us immediately.
If your AC is blowing hot air, or just not working right, call McCarthy Air. We offer 24/7 emergency service. At McCarthy Air Conditioning, we are always available for questions and inspections.