9 Clear Signs It’s Time to Prepare for AC Replacement
Air conditioners made today save 20 to 40 percent more energy than air conditioners made 10 years ago.
Aside from an old air conditioner costing more on your energy bill, it also runs the risk of breaking down on you at the worst possible time. Often, it is during the middle of summer that an old AC unit is pushed beyond its limits.
When that happens, your comfortable home fast morphs into a sweltering oven. On the hottest days, no AC can be dangerous for you and your family. If a summer day is running above the 100s, your house can feel even hotter.
If you give your unit regular maintenance and identify warning signs early, you can save big by avoiding the need for a full AC replacement.
In this article, we’ll go over the most common signs your AC is about to die.
Nine Signs You Need AC Replacement
To lengthen the lifespan of your air conditioner and keep it running at maximum efficiency, you must perform regular maintenance.
If you ignore maintenance for your air conditioner, you are welcoming its eventual breakdown. To keep your air conditioner running in tiptop shape, be sure to change the filters every month, clean the coils of dust, replace the coil fins if they’re bent, and clear out the condensate drains.
If your AC does break down, don’t try to effect repairs yourself if you don’t have the know-how. You can end up making things worse. Instead, hire a trustworthy technician to do the repairs on your AC.
Here are nine signs your air conditioner isn’t working:
1. You’re Getting Warm Air When It Should Be Cool
If you have your thermostat set to ‘cool’ and your air conditioner is blowing warm air instead, it’s likely stopped functioning. This problem is often related to either your thermostat or a coolant leak.
2. The Thermostat Isn’t Working
The thermostat is the tool through which you control your AC.
Your AC depends upon the thermostat to tell it how cold of air it should generate. The thermostat also takes measurements of the current room temperature. This tells the AC when it reaches the set temperature and can then shut off.
If the thermostat cannot detect when you switch from ‘heat’ to ‘cool’, or if the unit runs for brief spurts before shutting off, or won’t turn on at all, this is an indication it’s broken.
3. Weak Air Flow
If little air blows from the vents, your AC may be malfunctioning and close to dying.
The air blowing out may still feel cool, but is so light you can barely feel it when holding your hand near the vent. This could be a warning sign of a compressor close to failing.
4. The AC Is Making Noise
All AC units emit noise.
A broken AC will be much louder and more obvious about something being wrong. If you hear any grinding, squealing, or scraping, the belt might be out of place. It’s important to contact an HVAC expert fast to prevent further damage to other parts.
5. Something Smells Weird
An air conditioner shouldn’t push out any strange odors.
If there’s an acrid electrical smell, a wire inside the unit may have burned out or something caught on fire. Musty smells might be a clue there’s mold contaminating the ductwork of your AC unit.
6. It’s Humid in Your Home
A functioning AC unit helps to remove humidity in your home. If you notice the air in your house growing more humid, your AC may be malfunctioning.
7. There Is Freon or Water Collecting
There should not be any freon or water on the ground near your air conditioner.
If there is, this indicates a refrigerant leak. Freon is extremely poisonous, so it’s important to not touch it and wash your hands if you did.
Water collecting around an AC unit might hint at a broken tube that carries away condensation. There are several symptoms that hint at this beyond just water pooling near the unit. You may also see water actively leaking from the HVAC system or ice forming on the inside of your AC unit.
8. Your Electric Bill Keeps Going Up
An obvious sign your AC system needs repairs or replacement is when your energy bill gets higher each month. While it’s normal for your bill to fluctuate from month to month, it’s not normal for it to drastically increase.
9. AC Is Older Than Ten Years
Air conditioners over ten years of age use more energy than ones made today.
While an air conditioner is a sturdy piece of equipment, it is not meant to last forever. After ten years, an AC’s lifespan is essentially over. After that allotment of time, an AC unit may break down at any time.
What a Technician Will Check For
When you hire an HVAC technician to repair or replace your unit, they will run through a variety of steps.
A well-trained expert will:
- Check the refrigerant levels.
- Test for refrigerant leaks.
- Capture refrigerant leaks flushed from the system; it’s illegal to release it into the atmosphere.
- Inspect for duct leakage.
- Measure the airflow traveling in the evaporator coil.
- And much more.
Stay Cool and Call an Expert
If you encounter any of the warning signs listed, call a trusted HVAC expert right away.
Problems with an air conditioner can easily grow into something more serious. A malfunctioning AC left to fully break down may end up needing a full system replacement versus simple repairs.
Repair costs run much lower than a full AC replacement. You also don’t want to risk the health of your family by putting it off.
For example, with a musty smell hinting at mold growing in the ducts, you are living with a microbiological threat. Mold can cause headaches, agitate airways, and much more. You’ll want to address such an issue as soon as possible.
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