With temperatures heating up all across the country, more homeowners are making the switch from HEAT to COOL. For many, this is the year they’ll make significant decisions about their heating and cooling systems.
Whether you’ve nursed your system along for a few years hoping to avoid replacement, or you already know you have a service issue, you have one big question you should be asking: Can I get through one more cooling season without an air conditioner replacement?
Perhaps you should let the AC do the talking.
Before you decide on a replacement vs. making repairs, read today’s post and explore 8 signs that indicate potential problems with your AC and what they mean.
Your Thermostat Seems Confused
Think of your thermostat as the central command unit for your heating and cooling system. Thermostats not only don’t last forever, sometimes they give the wrong message to the AC.
When you notice your home feels too warm after running the air conditioner, or it doesn’t feel like the system kicks on and off correctly, you may have a calibration problem.
Count yourself lucky if you have an issue with the thermostat. Whether you repair or replace it, the job isn’t difficult.
If you schedule regular AC tune-ups, your technician will calibrate your thermostat.
When Your Air Conditioner Stops Cooling
Turning the AC on for the first time should bring sweet relief from hot weather.
When the system breathes warm air rather than cool, you may need a tune-up. The best time to schedule a tune-up is before the scorching hot days of summer. If you notice a lack of cool air now, schedule AC repair in time for the hotter days because they can really sneak up on you!
When you schedule routine AC maintenance, your service visit usually includes an inspection. During the inspection, your HVAC technician should make a note of any worn-out parts. Hopefully, they can give you early warning of probably future repairs.
You may have a dirty condenser unit. It sits outside where dirt and other debris can build up on the condenser coils. If that’s the problem, a simple cleaning should take care of the problem.
You Notice Inconsistent Cooling
There’s a difference between an air conditioner that won’t cool at all and one that struggles to keep the temperature consistent.
Fluctuations in temperature usually mean your air conditioner can’t circulate cool air well enough to keep your home cool. If you notice extreme inconsistencies in temperature and don’t address the problem, your comfort isn’t the only thing that will suffer. You’ll end up paying higher cooling bills.
If your cooling system struggles to maintain consistent temperatures, take it as a sign. You could need an AC replacement!
The Air Conditioner Runs Forever
While you might not need extra cooling power now, once real summer weather arrives, you’ll need it. Take note now if your AC runs too often and too long. This isn’t normal behavior, especially when you’re not dealing with the summer heat.
Combine a unit that turns on more often, runs longer than it should, and takes longer than expected to cool down the temperature in your home. All three are signs you need a repair.
You could have bad coils or a defective blower motor. You’ll likely pay more to replace the coil.
Your HVAC technician should inspect both parts when they do the AC tune-up.
You Received a Ridiculously High Energy Bill
To be fair, one high cooling bill isn’t a cause for alarm, but if you notice a gradual, unexplainable increase in your energy bill, it’s a sign.
Before you panic, make sure you’re not dealing with abnormally hot weather, a rate increase, or prolonged use of the cooling system.
Often, the problem lies with a dirty air filter. You could also have a relatively minor repair issue. You won’t know until you change the filter or schedule service.
Air conditioners often show their age by running less efficiently. We’ll discuss older cooling systems later, but for now, know that higher energy bills can come with an aging system.
Tell-tale Noises and Odors
All AC units make noise when they kick on and again when they power down. Sometimes, your air conditioner may even give off an odor.
While you shouldn’t worry about the standard operating noises, if you hear squealing or grinding, you’ve got a problem. You may have worn out parts or something more serious.
Regarding odor—air conditioners sometimes develop a musty smell, especially if you live in a humid climate. Anything other than a musty odor can indicate trouble.
When you notice unusual smells or weird noises coming from your air conditioner,
Anytime you notice loud noises or unusual odors, call for HVAC service.
You Forgot about Maintenance Again
Forgetting to schedule routine maintenance for your air conditioner might not seem like a sign, but putting it off for too long will cause your system to start giving you signs.
We know—you’re busy and have a million irons in the fire, but routine maintenance appointments help ensure your air conditioner continues working efficiently. You may even extend the life of your older system by a few years if you don’t forget your annual service visits.
Your HVAC tech can advise you on how often you should schedule maintenance. Most homeowners schedule an annual inspection and tune-up. When you’re running an aging system, you may need more frequent maintenance appointments.
Speaking of aging air conditioners, read on and find out what age could mean for your AC.
Age and Air Conditioners
Even when you treat your air conditioner well, you probably won’t get more than about 17 years of useful life from your system. The best advancements in heating and cooling system technology can’t add an indefinite number of years to an air conditioner.
Around 10 years of age, you may start repairing or replacing AC components. At approximately 15 years of age, your system may start needing more repairs.
Once you’re making consistent repairs, it’s time to consider replacing the air conditioner.
Thinking about an Air Conditioner Replacement?
When you reach the point where you’re repairing or replacing the same parts every year, it’s a sign.
If you’re facing an air conditioner repair and you know it will cost more than half what you’d spend on an air conditioner replacement, you should consider installing a new AC unit.
We hope reading this post helped you identify potential signs that your air conditioner needs attention. If you enjoyed reading this one, check out the rest of our business, tech, and lifestyle articles on the blog. Keep cool!