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Air Conditioning systems are installed in millions of homes all around the world as a user-friendly way make living spaces as comfortable as possible. Most of these units can easily be controlled easily with a knob on a thermostat or a push of a button.
But just like any other appliance, air conditioning units are prone to wear and tear over time from regular use, and will develop problems at some point in their lifetime. As such, the engineering and science behind the functioning of your unit is something you should know in case you need to make any repairs or replacements.
Of course, to keep you AC unit running smoothly, you need to pay proper attention to its service and maintenance needs. This will help you save money on repairs and replacements, as well as the headaches and inconveniences caused by unexpected breakdowns, which can leave your house uncomfortable.
In this guide, we'll dive into the operation, function, and anatomy of residential AC systems, to serve as the ultimate guide to home AC repairs.
Have you ever wondered how your home's air conditioning system works? Well, one interesting thing you might not know is that your AC works primarily the same way as your refrigerator. The only difference is that a refrigerator generally cools a small, insulated space, while an AC cools a larger, typically uninsulated space like your home, office, or commercial space.
The whole process of making the air in your space comfortable is based on a simple scientific principle, and the rest is achieved by mechanical means. This scientific principle is all about the transfer of heat. When heat is removed, or lost, it leaves cold air which in turn cools your home. To understand this concept better, we'll look at the three main components: the compressor, the evaporator, and the condenser. They all work in tandem to keep your space cool.
The condenser and the compressor are typically located outside, while the evaporator is installed inside the space. The AC unit uses chemicals to convert a gas into a liquid and then back again quickly. The chemicals ideally transfer the heat from the air inside the house to the outside. The cooling fluid goes to the compressor as a low pressure fluid, which is then squeezed.
The fluid leaves the compressor as a hot, high-pressure fluid, and is transported to the condenser. The outside part of your AC unit has metal fins all around the housing, which work as the radiator of a car and they help to dissipate the heat quickly.
As the fluid exits the condenser, it's much cooler. It also changes from a hot gat to a liquid due to the high pressure. The fluid then makes its way into the evaporator via a narrow, minuscule hole, and when it reaches the other side of the passage, its pressure has dropped, and it starts evaporating into a gas.
While this happens, heat is extracted from the surrounding air. The extracted heat is required to separate the liquid molecules of the fluid into a gas. The evaporator typically comes with metal fins that help exchange the thermal energy with the surrounding air.
As the refrigerant leaves the evaporator, it has become a chilled, low pressure gas. The process starts all over again as it goes to the compressor. A fan connected to the evaporator helps to circulate cool air around the house and across the fins of the evaporator.
The AC unit ideally sucks air into the ducts through a vent. This air flow cools the gas inside the evaporator, and while the heat is removed from the air, it's temperature drops. The ducts blow the cool air back into the house.
This process will ideally continue until the air inside the premises reaches the set temperature. When this temperature is reached, a thermostat will trigger and shut off the AC. When the room temperatures start to rise, the thermostat senses and turns the AC back on.
As mentioned earlier, regardless of the kind of AC unit you have in your home, some problems will inevitably develop. The goal of this section is to help you prepare for any kind of AC problems and give you information on the best way to fix them. Some of these issues you can fix on your own, while others will call for professional help.
This can happen for a variety of reasons. Assuming that no maintenance is needed, a simple fix is to make sure that all of the doors and windows are closed when the AC is running, as it could prevent the cold air from leaving the home and allowing warm air to enter. Some of the possible system issues that could cause reduced power or uneven cooling include system imbalances, airflow blockage, and leaking ducts.
Blockage of airflow refers to literally anything that reduces air flow and air pressure. Check your system to make sure that all registers are unobstructed, with special focus on the warm rooms. If your AC is off balance, it could mean that its condenser fan is out of balance, or disbursement of air is uneven throughout your home due to leaking ducts, which could be caused by improper sealing.
If you establish that it's a system imbalance causing the issue, your best bet is to contact a professional technician to have your system rebalanced. It's also recommended that the whole AC system is inspected for any possible leaks.
When your AC is unable to turn on, it can be a sign of a few problems. One of the most common cause of this symptom is faulty wiring, which is quite dangerous as it could lead to fire hazards. In case you suspect or notice poor wiring in your AC, you should address it right away. Unless you have above average electrical skills, it's best to have a professional evaluate the issue and repair any inadequate or damaged wiring where necessary.
If your AC is not cooling air to the desired temperature as set on the thermostat, it can be a result of a few reasons. For instance, your AC unit might have run out of Freon, the refrigerant that cools the air; or your unit might be leaking the refrigerant. Other problems could be damaged parts in the unit or airflow blockage.
In case you can't diagnose the problem yourself, be sure to seek assistance from a skilled technician. Just as with the solutions for other power issues, you might have to clean the coils and other parts of the unit, or replace the filter altogether.
If your AC unit is powering on and off sporadically, regardless of your settings in the thermostat, you're probably dealing with an airflow obstruction as a result of accumulated debris or dirt. You can clean and clear out the evaporator and condenser coil, and replace the air filter.
In case the AC coil in your indoor unit starts to freeze, and ice or frost starts forming in the unit, it could result into a hindered airflow. Ensure that you change your air filters regularly and eliminate any of the obstructed ducts to make sure that the air in your home can cycle through freely. Also make sure that your refrigerant levels aren't too low, as this could lead to freezing.
The outdoor unit house the compressor, condenser coil, and a fan, and other electrical parts, meaning that the unit could run into trouble especially if it's neglected. For example, the outside fan might stop working completely. When this happens, the heat from the indoors isn't being transferred outside effectively, and this could lead to a myriad of problems, such as compressor overheating and tripping the safety overload.
If the outdoor unit isn't functioning at all, it could be a different problem altogether. It could be a power issue, a thermostat glitch, or a malfunction with the contactor. The contactor is a small gadget whose work is to switch the outdoor unit off and on depending on the signals received from the thermostat.
In case you've noticed that your AC unit is showing some signs of needing repair or service, it's important to have it assessed by an expert. A minor problem today can easily develop into a major, more expensive repair when left unattended.
Here are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot your AC system if it's not functioning properly, before you call your AC repairman.
With these four easy steps, you will be able to determine whether your AC unit needs more repairs or not. The simplest way is to always check and make sure that power is getting to the unit. From there, you can isolate individual components until you pin down the issue.
Before you attempt any repairs on your AC unit, you should always disconnect the power, and test to make sure that the power is off. This will protect you and your unit during the troubleshooting and repair processes.
The evaporator coils are some of the most important components of your AC unit. If a problem develops due to dirty evaporator coils, the efficiency of your AC unit will drop, causing a performance decrease, and ultimately damage or breakdown the unit.
When they get dirty, evaporator coils performance in cooling and dehumidifying is considerably reduced. The air that blows across the coils can contain pollen, dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Since the coils usually become damp when water condenses on them, it’s easy for these particulates to stick to them.
Dirty air filters (or lack thereof) can increase the amount of substances that get into contact with the evaporator coils. Within a short period of time, enough contaminants can accumulate on the coils and soon start affecting its performance. Dirty condenser coils and evaporator coils can lead to problems like:
Overall, AC units with dirty coils usually use up 40% more energy compared to those with clean coils. The cooling function is also reduced by 30% or more, and you can expect your utility bills to rise, nonetheless.
You should therefore check and clean your evaporator coils as needed. If your AC evaporator coils or outdoor unit are prone to collecting dirt and debris faster, you might need to clean them on a monthly basis. Replacing your air filter every 30-90 days depending on its type should prevent this though. Otherwise, you can clean the coils every three months as preventative maintenance.
You can remove light buildups of dust, dirt, and other materials using compressed air to push them loose, as described below.
Alternatively, you can clean the evaporator coils using commercial cleaners. Most of the available options are the foaming type, which break down and drain away into the drainage system of your unit. Be sure to follow the instructions and precautions as directed by the manufacturer.
Another way to clean your AC coils is using warm water and a mild detergent. Mix a simple detergent and warm water into a hand sprayer or spray bottle. Apply this mixture onto the coils and allow to sit for some minutes so that it soaks in and loosens up all the dirt and debris. Then, you can wipe down the materials using a soft brush or cloth using caution not to bend or damage the very sensitive fins. Use gloves as the fins are very sharp.
If the coils are heavily soiled, they may require heavy-duty cleaning techniques, strong chemicals, and specialized equipment like a steam cleaner or pressure washer. The cleaning process will also require some revisions on your AC system, such as cutting and reattaching refrigerant lines, removing the coil, restoring the vacuum state of the lines, and refilling the system with refrigerant.
For the heavily soiled coils, or coils that are dirty enough to significantly affect the function of the air condenser, your best bet is to schedule a professional AC unit cleaning and maintenance. They will most likely have the correct training, equipment, and material to clean up your unit without causing damage to the components.
Air filters can quickly become clogged with debris over time, especially in seasons where they run around the clock. Failing to change the filter can lead to much more expensive repairs, increased energy bills, and reduced lifespan of the unit.
Fortunately, AC air filter replacement is one of the easiest repairs you can do to keep your system running optimally. Swapping out the filter is quite a straightforward process, regardless of the system you're using, and this is something you can do on your own.
At this point, your task of changing the air filter is complete. You should start noticing your home feeling a bit more comfortable as air is moving more freely through the system. Read more & buy filters here
If your AC unit is frozen, the first thing you should do is to flip the breaker and keep it off until the unit is fully thawed. This won't take long in the summer.
When the ice on the coils has melted, it's important to have the coils dried and get rid of any moisture might have pooled around the unit. This will help to improve efficiency and will reduce the chances of your unit icing up again when you turn it back on. When you do this, be sure to get rid of any debris that could be blocking the drainage channels.
Before you switch your AC back on, ensure that you've set the thermostat such that you only turn the blower fan on. This will circulate air through the system and can help to eliminate any remaining ice crystals in the coils.
Another good option is using a hair dryer on low heat setting to blow warm air along the outside of the coils. Although it might be tempting to use a high-heat setting to speed up the process, it's something that you shouldn't do because it can potentially crack the condenser coil, leading to costly repairs.
Once you're sure that the ice has fully thawed, turn on the AC unit back on, and check to see if there's cold air blowing through the registers. If the air is cool, then you can be sure that the ice is removed along with any other blockages. If it's not cold, turn it off and repeat the steps again.
If your home's Air Conditioner keeps developing problems, you might be considering a replacement. However, there's a lot more than money that you need to consider.
As already mentioned, keeping your AC unit running optimally and smoothly will require you to take proper, consistent maintenance on it. While you can do most of the repairs we have discussed at home, some of them require the attention of a certified AC technician. They have the training, knowledge and experience to quickly diagnose the problem and get your system up and running as it should.
There are many advantages to choosing the right AC company to service your air conditioning system. Both financially and emotionally.
We have noticed that some AC contractors here in Delmarva don't spend enough time training their technicians. This can lead to disaster. Some technicians are sent to clients homes and have only been working with that company for a few days, weeks or months. That AC technician may not have the years of experience that the AC contractor may have. This can lead to faulty repairs or even worse.
Our Air Conditioning technicians have years of experience as a requirement and have been background checked and drug tested for your safety.
Choosing Above & Beyond Services as your AC repair company could be one of the wisest decisions you could ever make. Our owner, Gary Lee Mitchell, affectionately known as GL, personally guarantees to oversee all AC installation projects from beginning to end, to ensure your 100% satisfaction. That is how we can offer better guarantees than our competition. We know exactly what is going on behind that new AC unit.
We are 100% committed to making your air conditioning repair project our priority from beginning to finish. All AC contractors say that, we mean it.
I would like to thank G.L. Mitchell at Above and Beyond. Our AC has been down all day, he came out and was able to fix it right away. Awesome service and very reasonable. Highly recommend l.
After having another area AC company make 2 unsuccessful attempts to repair an issue with our central air, I called Above and Beyond. Even though I was a new customer, the owner was at our home within 2 hours of my call. Within 5 minutes of walking in the door, he had diagnosed the issue and had our AC system working as good as new in about an hour. Above and Beyond will now be my first and only call.
Our AC system went out on us 3 days ago, luckily we were bless the the past 3 nights were cool. I called around trying to find service for our system, but every company I called was booked up for the day and part of next week, so I googled AC companies near me and I saw a few companies who had high review ratings and in an arm stretch near us. When I scrolled and saw the reviews for above and beyond services, I had to take the chance to call and see what they were about. I must say it was the best decision I made. The lady I spoke with Tina provided me the best customer service I have had in a awhile. She was very professional and willing to get a technician to our home. Fast forward to the afternoon, I received a call from above and beyond technician tell me he was enroute to our residence. The technician Scott was professional and knowledgeable. He quickly pointed out to me what the issue was and fixed it with no hassle at all. Pricing for service is good and on top of that Above and Beyond offers a military veteran discount. I will be using this company for future jobs and highly recommend them to everybody.