The extreme Houston heat makes it absolutely essential that your air conditioning is functioning effectively. Without a working AC system, the temperature in your home can quickly rise well into the triple digits and potentially put you at a major risk of developing heat stroke. The problem is that some issues can be somewhat hard to spot, so here are some of the things to look for that can indicate you need AC repairs.
1. Warm Air Blowing Out of Your Vents When AC Is Running
When your air conditioning is functioning properly, the air coming out of all of your vents should be around 20 degrees cooler than the current temperature inside your home. If you ever notice that warm air starts blowing out of the vents when the outdoor AC condenser is running, it usually indicates that the evaporator coil inside your home is frozen.
The evaporator coil sits within the air handler compartment, and it is responsible for removing heat from the warm air being drawn into the system. This process works because the refrigerant that flows through the evaporator coil is colder than the air, which results in heat energy naturally flowing out of the air and being absorbed by the refrigerant. If the evaporator coil freezes and is covered in ice, the air will no longer come into contact with the coil and the system will stop cooling. When this happens, the AC blower will simply draw warm air in and then circulate it through the ductwork and back out of the vents.
Your AC can freeze for a few different reasons. In most cases, the problem results either because the evaporator coil is too dirty and needs to be cleaned or due to a lack of sufficient warm air coming into the system. A thick layer of dust on the evaporator coil will insulate it so that the warm air can’t directly contact the coil. This, in turn, leads to the refrigerant remaining cold enough to allow condensation on the coil to start freezing. A similar issue can also occur if there isn’t enough warm air coming in, which can happen if the blower isn’t functioning effectively or the air filter is too dirty. Your AC can also freeze up if the system is low on refrigerant due to a leak.
If a dirty air filter is the cause, then you can quickly overcome this issue on your own simply by replacing the filter. If this doesn’t fix the issue, you should immediately shut the system off and contact an AC repair service. What you don’t want to do is allow the system to keep running when frozen as this has the potential to cause the compressor motor in the outdoor unit to burn out.
2. Weak Airflow or No Air Coming From Vents
Having little to no air coming out of your vents when your air conditioning is running can also indicate you need AC repairs. If you do ever experience this issue, you should first replace the air filter to see if this fixes the airflow issues. If the airflow is still weak after you’ve replaced the filter, you will need to have an AC technician check the blower as this problem usually indicates that the blower is malfunctioning or too dirty to circulate air through the system properly.
3. AC Is Louder Than Normal or Makes Unusual Noises
Louder than normal operation or an AC that makes any unusual noises are also signs that your system needs repairing. If the outdoor AC unit or blower starts running much more loudly than usual, it typically indicates that there is some issue putting additional strain on the system. Screeching or squealing noises coming from the outdoor unit or blower are often a sign of worn-out bearings or belts that drive the system’s motors are starting to wear out.
A loud humming noise is often a sign of a more severe problem as this can indicate that the system has electrical issues or that one of the motors itself is starting to fail. If you hear a hissing, bubbling or gurgling sound, it usually means that there is a leak in the condenser coil, evaporator coil or one of the refrigerant lines that run between the indoor and outdoor parts of the system. You should also watch out for any grinding, rattling, buzzing and other unusual sounds as these also indicate that you need to have your AC system inspected and possibly repaired.
4. AC Continually Cycles On and Off
An AC that continually cycles on and off in quick succession is also something you will want to have checked out as soon as possible. This problem is known as short cycling, and it is a serious issue as it puts a huge amount of additional strain on the entire system and can greatly shorten the life span of your AC unit. Short cycling can occur for several different reasons, such as a clogged air filter, low refrigerant level or a malfunctioning thermostat. Another possible reason why your AC is short cycling is because it is too large for your home and, unfortunately, the only solution in this case is to replace it with a properly sized unit.
5. AC Won’t Turn On When Thermostat Calls for Cooling
Your air conditioning system should always turn on whenever the temperature in your home is more than 2 to 3 degrees above whatever temperature you have your thermostat set to. If you notice that your home is starting to get too warm and your AC isn’t turning on, it’s also a fairly good indication that your system needs some type of repair.
The first thing to do in this case is to make sure that the circuit breaker that controls the system isn’t tripped as the breaker can sometimes trip due to a power surge. If the breaker isn’t tripped and your AC won’t turn on, you’ll need to have a technician inspect everything to determine the specific cause. It could be that your thermostat is malfunctioning or that there is an electrical problem preventing the signal from the thermostat from reaching the outdoor unit. Another possibility is that the start capacitor that helps the motors in the outdoor unit to start is worn out and needs to be replaced.
Most ACs also won’t start if the drain pan is too full due to a clog in the condensate drain system. When the water in the drain pan rises too high, it triggers a safety switch and shuts down the system to prevent the pan from overflowing and water leaking everywhere.
6. AC Runs for Long Periods Without Shutting Off
When your air conditioning is functioning effectively, it should normally only ever run for around 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The system may run for longer on extremely hot or humid days or any time that the temperature in your home is more than 5 to 10 degrees above the thermostat setting, but it still should never run for hours at a time. If it does run for long periods without shutting off, it indicates that there is some issue that is preventing it from cooling effectively. This can happen for numerous different reasons, and the only way to know for sure what specific issue your AC has and how to fix it is to have it professionally inspected.
At Punbar Air, we specialize in AC repairs, and our certified technicians work on all brands, models and types of air conditioners. We’re also here to help with all of your other needed air conditioning services including AC maintenance and installation needs or if you need any heating services in the Houston area. Give us a call today to learn more about our services or if you need to schedule an AC inspection.