Air Conditioning: Some Common Problems

Because our friends and neighbors in the Tampa, FL, area depend on their air conditioners to stay cool and comfortable all year long, air conditioning problems can be especially frustrating or even dangerous. Fortunately, most common issues are easy to identify at home, and some can even be repaired without specialized tools or equipment. Check your air conditioner for these common problems to keep your cooling system running and your family cool throughout the season.

Problem: Inadequate Cooling

The most basic possible issue with an air conditioner is a lack of cooling power. If your home is uncomfortably hot despite the air conditioner’s best efforts, try lowering the thermostat by five degrees and letting the machine run for an hour or two. Continued failure to cool your home may be a sign of a dirty evaporator coil; clean it carefully and again let the machine run to see if that fixes the problem.

Somewhat intuitively, extremely hot weather can make your air conditioner’s job very difficult. If the outdoor temperature is consistently above 100 degrees, maintaining a temperature in the low sixties may be impossible. At more reasonable temperatures, however, failure to cool your home completely is more likely a sign of an improperly sized unit. Consult an air conditioning professional to get a full load calculation and determine whether your home needs a more powerful machine to handle its cooling needs.

Problem: Icing Up

Air conditioners are designed to keep your home cool, but on occasion they work a little too well. Ice that forms on the coils generally comes from one of three cause. Sometimes, air conditioners freeze because they operate while the outdoor air is too cold. If your AC unit tends to freeze in the cool air overnight, try shutting it off at sunset and only turning it on during the hot parts of the day. A programmable thermostat may also help you keep the air conditioner running only when the outdoor air is warm enough to prevent freezing.

Freezing up can also be caused by a dirty air filter. When dust and debris cause the filter, cold air builds up inside the unit and lowers the interior temperature, causing ice to form. This problem can be resolved easily by cleaning or changing the air filter as needed. If your air conditioner uses disposable filters, be sure to get a replacement that fits your machine from a local factory authorized dealer instead of plugging in a generic model from your local hardware store. If your unit has a reusable filter, be sure to let it air dry completely before putting it back into the machine.

A third possible cause is a refrigerant leak, which causes the chemicals that transfer heat out of your home to drop below recommended levels. Since your air conditioner does not actually use up refrigerant during operation, the level should remain fairly constant; if it falls, the internal workings of the unit will be disrupted and ice may form on the coils. Check the refrigerant gauge to identify whether a leak is present; if the level has dropped, your air conditioner needs to be professionally repaired.

Problem: Clogged Condenser Fins

In addition to causing air conditioners to freeze up, dirty air filters can pass dust and debris along to other components of the machine such as the condenser fins. Fixing this problem requires cleaning or replacing the air filter, of course, but you will also need to clear off the fins to fully resolve the issue. For best results, invest in a special fin brush designed to remove the debris without damaging the delicate fins themselves; otherwise, you could be in for a much more expensive air conditioning repair.

Problem: Failure to Start

If your air conditioner won’t turn on, the most likely culprit is a lack of power. Check the wiring that brings electricity into the unit for corrosion, rust or other damage; if it is defective, your unit most likely needs to be professionally repaired. Likewise, the wiring that connects the machine’s internal components to each other can corrode after years of use. Since faulty wiring can also cause fires, the problem should be fixed as quickly as possible.

Another possible cause is a defective or poorly calibrated thermostat, which may not provide the necessary signal for your air conditioner to start. Again, this issue requires a visit from an air conditioning service professional.

Problem: Erratic Operation

One of the most frustrating possible issues with an air conditioner is constant cycling on and off. This erratic operation can be unnecessarily noisy and lead to uncomfortable temperature changes throughout the day. In most cases, the cause is an issue with the thermostat sensor located behind the control panel; if it is knocked out of position, the air conditioner will not accurately measure the temperature of the air that enters the evaporator coil. Fortunately, this problem is easy to fix by just bending the wire that holds the sensor in place. Ideally, it should be very close to the coil itself but not quite touching.

At Senica Air Conditioning, Inc., we provide great air conditioning repair and maintenance services throughout the Tampa, FL, area. If your air conditioner is suffering from any of these problems and you aren’t sure how to proceed, call us today to speak with an air conditioning service expert.

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