Summer is peak season for your air conditioning system. As temperatures in the Indianapolis area rise, it’s possible you may experience air conditioner problems that prevent your home from reaching a comfortable temperature, cause noisy distractions, or leave your family without cooling all together. Williams Comfort Air explains the top problems that are most likely to affect air conditioners and heat pumps this season – watch for these issues and if you spot them, contact us right away for repairs.
Air conditioners are designed to work optimally when indoor setpoints and outdoor temperatures are within 20 degrees of one another. For example, if you prefer to keep your home at 70 degrees indoors, the air conditioner may start to struggle once outdoor temperatures rise above 90 degrees. While higher outdoor temperatures typically don’t stop your cooling system from working altogether, they do make it difficult for the air conditioner to cool. Indoors, it may feel like your air conditioner isn’t working correctly.
To help your cooling system work better during periods of extreme heat, reduce your home’s cooling load and resolve issues that restrict airflow throughout the system.
If you notice poor airflow coming from the vents throughout the home when your cooling system runs, a number of issues may be affecting your air conditioner.
During the summer, you expect the air flowing from your vents to be nice and cool. If you feel above your vent and the air is lukewarm or warm, verify that your cooling system is running and not the heating unit. Also, make sure the fan is set to AUTO – if it is set to ON, the blower fan runs 24/7 and will force warm air through vents during the time between cooling cycles. Incorrect thermostat settings are an easy-to-correct cause of this issue.
If your thermostat settings are correct, other issues are causing the cooling system to blow warm air into the home. Dirty coils can prevent the absorption and release of heat, causing air to remain warm. Refrigerant leaks limit the system’s capacity to absorb and transfer heat as well. If the outdoor heat pump or condenser unit is blocked by debris, plants, or outdoor items, the system cannot release heat effectively which will allow the heat to remain in your home’s air supply.
Most homes already have air leaks in the duct system, causing cooling loss. These duct leaks can worsen during the summer season as more air moves through the supply ducts due to increased cooling system use. Closing vents in the home to try and save money causes conditioned air to back up within the ducts which increases pressure and can cause these gaps and cracks to further expand.
Condensation is created as part of the cooling process – as air cools, moisture within the air condenses into liquid, providing some dehumidification of indoor air. Normally this water is collected in the drip pan below the evaporator coils and flows out of the cooling system via the connected condensate drain line.
However, clogs can form in the condensate line due to a buildup of dust and debris in the system that result from poor filtration and even mold or algae growing within the drip pan. If the condensate drain line is clogged, the drip pan will overfill and water will spill out onto the floor surrounding your indoor air conditioning system components. This issue causes water damage to surrounding areas and may cause damage to equipment. Your home may also experience higher humidity, too.
Refrigerant travels through lines connecting the indoor and outdoor air conditioning components, transferring heat from the home’s air to the outdoor unit for release into the surrounding environment. Leaks in the refrigerant lines and other system components cause the cooling unit to lose its refrigerant charge, resulting in low refrigerant levels.
If the system’s refrigerant level is lower than it should be, the air conditioner or heat pump cannot properly cool your home, and the air indoors will likely feel more humid, too. A refrigerant leak can be caused due to wear and tear, damaged components, corrosion, installation errors, and defective equipment.
HVAC equipment runs more frequently in the summer than other seasons as your home’s cooling load is higher from the outdoor heat. More cooling cycles means air makes more passes through the system and filter. Higher air conditioner system usage can cause your air filter to fill with contaminants and become dirty faster, requiring replacement sooner than you expect. The filter traps airborne contaminants whenever air cycles through the system and running your cooling system more frequently during the summer gives the filter more chances to remove pollution from the indoor air supply.
Split cooling systems, including conventional air conditioners and heat pump systems, have both indoor and outdoor equipment – both of which have fans. The indoor air handling unit holds the blower fan, which is responsible for circulating air through the home and HVAC system. The outdoor condenser fan works to keep the condenser coils cool for heat exchange.
The evaporator coils are a component within your indoor air conditioning equipment which are responsible for absorbing heat from your home’s air supply. If these coils become too cold, the moisture produced by the cooling process can form frost or a layer of ice on the coils. When the evaporator coils freeze, your air conditioner is unable to do its job. Frozen evaporator coils are often the result of refrigerant leaks and/or airflow issues and may be worsened by clogs in the condensate drain line.
The condenser coils sit within your outdoor air conditioner condensing unit or heat pump and are responsible for releasing heat extracted from the home’s air supply into the atmosphere. Dirt, dust, pollen, and other outdoor debris can settle on the surface of these coils, covering the available area for heat transfer. When the condenser coils are dirty, the cooling system must use more energy as it struggles to release heat, causing inefficiency and poor system performance.
Air conditioners and heat pump systems have various electrical components and connections involved in running the equipment. Wiring issues, faulty contactors and capacitors, and other issues may stop your air conditioner from working properly. Storms causing lightning strikes and power surges can damage your cooling equipment. Poor maintenance can also lead to electrical damage within your cooling system if issues are not resolved early on.
A cooling cycle should last around 15 minutes from start to finish. When you notice the air conditioner shutting down just a few minutes after it turns on and the system continues to cycle this way, this is what is called short cycling. The air conditioner may short cycle due to airflow issues causing the components to overheat, or because the home reaches the temperature setpoint very quickly – this is usually the result of an oversized air conditioner or heat pump.
When air conditioners or heat pumps don’t turn on at all, often times a power issue is to blame. If the thermostat, indoor equipment, or outdoor unit lose power due to bad batteries, a tripped breaker, or is accidentally switched off, the system will not work. Blown fuses within the system also prevent the unit from powering up. A bad thermostat may also fail to signal your cooling system to run. Additionally, wiring issues or failed motors could also prevent the system from starting up when needed.
Air conditioners and heat pumps should operate with only a steady hum from the outdoor unit, and you may also notice minimal noise from the indoor equipment if you are nearby. A single click from the thermostat is typical upon startup and shutdown.
Any new or sudden noises that arise from your cooling equipment indicate performance issues which need to be fixed. The sounds you hear can vary widely, depending on the affected components.
Anytime your air conditioning bills spike in the summer, your cooling system may be to blame. If factors such as more people in the home and higher outdoor temperatures are not in play over your billing cycle, performance issues with the system may have caused your equipment to consume excess energy to cool your home. The most common causes are a dirty air filter or dirty coils, though a number of malfunctions affecting different components can cause energy waste, too.
Summertime air conditioning problems create a great deal of discomfort in affected Indianapolis households. Whenever your air conditioner experiences a breakdown or has trouble keeping up with your cooling needs, turn to Williams Comfort Air for reliable repairs and solutions you can count on. Our team is available 24/7 for emergency air conditioner service when needed. To schedule air conditioner repairs, contact us today.