When things heat up, we want our air conditioner to be there like a good friend: reliable and helping us keep our cool. However, like any other appliance, air conditioning units are prone to wear, tear, and break down over time. Recognizing signs that your air conditioner is struggling helps you know when to intervene – and timely intervention can help preserve the longevity and optimal functioning of your A/C unit.
Here are some indicators that your air conditioning system needs some prompt attention:
1. Weak Airflow
Have you noticed a decrease in air volume from your vents? Weak airflow is one of the first signs of A/C malfunction. This could indicate a number of issues, such as a clogged air filter, a malfunctioning blower, or a block in ductwork. In addition to compromising the coolness of your home, these things put extra strain on your system and can lead to greater issues. Regularly replace or clean your filter, address any known blockages, and call your A/C technician for additional help resolving the issue.
2. Constant or Erratic Cycling
Air conditioners typically cycle on and off to maintain a steady temperature in your home. Erratic, frequent, or short cycling, however, can indicate underlying problems. Your unit may not be correctly sized for your space, your thermostat may be on the fritz, or there may be a problem with your compressor. While these issues may vary in severity, the resultant erratic cycling is decreasing energy efficiency and putting strain on your A/C system as a whole, which can shorten its useful life.
3. Insufficient Cooling
The system is running, but your A/C isn’t getting your space as cool as it should. A refrigerant leak, malfunctioning compressor, or faulty thermostat may be at fault. A professional inspection can help diagnose the precise cause, so if you find yourself adjusting the thermostat and the temperature isn’t dropping as usual, give your A/C company a call to get your system looked at.
Your air conditioner is designed to operate quietly, so any new, unusual, or excessive noise should be considered a warning sign. Buzzing? Grinding? Rattling? Squealing? Don’t ignore it. There’s a wide range of what might be causing noise, from trapped debris to loose or deteriorated components, to a failing motor. Any of these would need to be addressed promptly.
The type of pool you don’t want to see in the summer is water pooling or dripping around any area of your air conditioning system. Why? It usually indicates clogging or drainage issues. Excessive water creates the right conditions for mold growth and water damage to your home, and can also damage your A/C unit.
6. Excessive Dust
We’re not talking about typical day-to-day dust that can settle in a house. (Trust us, we don’t want anyone walking around our houses with white gloves, either!) But air conditioners have filters that trap dust and debris, so if you notice excessive dust on vents or around the system, it could point to a clogged filter or problem with the filtration system. Since this can strain your air conditioner and negatively affect indoor air quality, it’s best to act fast.
7. High Energy Bills
Yes, living costs are on the rise. But don’t let an inefficiently functioning A/C unit elevate them even more. If your energy costs seem higher than they should be – especially if they’re climbing without you making significant changes to your A/C use – it may be time to investigate. Clogged filters, poor insulation, refrigerant leaks, and other issues in your system waste energy. But you can counteract these – and also help prevent them from becoming issues in the first place. Annual inspections, regular maintenance, and prompt repairs can help optimize energy efficiency and reduce costs.
8. Uneven Cooling
Does one room feel moderate and another arctic? Variation in temperatures between rooms might point to issues with airflow, insulation, or ductwork. Taking stock of whether ducts are properly sealed, insulation can be improved, or other issues need to be diagnosed and addressed will help your air conditioner provide the consistent cool relief it’s designed for.
System age can also be a factor in how efficiently – or not efficiently – your system is running. Most A/C units have a lifespan of 10-20 years. As air conditioners age, they decrease in efficiency, but staying on top of regular maintenance – coil cleaning, system inspections, filter replacements, and any repairs suggested by your technician – will help keep your system running at the top of its game.
Don’t chalk musty or foul odors up as a mere inconvenience – they may be telling a bigger story. Musty smells can point to a clogged drain line, and other unpleasant odors may indicate mold or mildew growth within the system. These are concerning, as they can adversely affect indoor air quality.
Need Professional Service? Reach Out
Being attuned to signs that your air conditioner is struggling is crucial for heading off major breakdowns and costly repairs when possible. Be sure to have your system professionally inspected and maintained annually. And if you notice a problem or change in your air conditioner’s performance, don’t delay. Your quick action may keep you cool this summer, and prolong the functioning of your system for summer to come!
Call us at 615-247-6617 or reach out online with questions.