There are several things that can go wrong with an air conditioner over the course of its lifetime. The question that often arises is when to call a technician and what homeowners can do to prevent failure. Let’s consider the most common reasons our professionals are called out to assist with AC unit issues, and what your best options are for an effective repair.
- Capacitors and Contactors: Some of the more “typical” repairs we see at Wyckoff are bad capacitors and bad contactors. But why? A great deal of electricity flows through these components, creating the potential for both to get extremely hot. When the temperature outside is rises, these components generate even more heat and as a result, quite often fail – and it doesn’t seem to matter what manufacturer or size of the unit. The good news is, both capacitors and contactors are usually not too expensive to fix. Running between $200 and $300, it is worth the investment to repair.
- Fan Motor: Another common failure we see is in the condensing fan motor. This is the fan located in the air conditioner. It endures extremes in temperature throughout the year as it is exposed. Despite the elements, the industry has come a long way to develop systems and components that can stand the test of time. A typical repair cost for the condensing fan motor runs between $300 and $400 dollars.
- Compressor: A third common issue we see is compressor failure. The compressor is like the engine in your car, and it can be very expensive to replace. This is why, at Wyckoff Heating & Cooling, we recommend you weigh the options of unit replacement prior to investing in a new compressor. As a general rule, if the unit is more than six years old, if the part isn’t covered under warranty or if the unit is using the old style R-22 refrigerant, you be money ahead to purchase a new unit instead of putting money into the old unit.
- Refrigerant: Units low on refrigerant is another common repair. A unit should not require, nor is it legal, to refill refrigerant year after year. If your air conditioner requires refrigerant every year, you most likely have a leaky refrigerant circuit, and you must get it repaired or replace the system. The refrigerant circuit consists of the air conditioner, the copper refrigeration line set and the evaporator coil. The leak could reside in one or all of the components, but the smaller the leak the more difficult it is to find. High pressure nitrogen tests and dyes are common methods of locating a refrigerant leak, however there is no guarantee that it will be found or possible to repair.
- Dirt: Dirty equipment can also cause issues with your system. Dust, cottonwood and other airborne particles often accumulate in the condensing coil of the air conditioner resulting in reduced efficiency and capacity. In severe cases, the unit may even ice up due to a dirty condensing coil. This means ice will form around the copper lines either inside or outside. Since the air conditioner pulls air in through the condensing coil it is much more effective to clean it from the inside out. To do this you must remove either the top or a side panel. We suggest homeowners do not attempt this as both breakers to your air conditioner and furnace must be off. From there, using a garden hose with a sprayer, or compressed air, works the best for cleaning, but in severe cases a special coil cleaning agent may be needed to assist in removing the dirt and debris.
Keep in mind, all of the failures and repairs listed should be addressed by a professional HVAC technician. Because you are dealing with high voltage electric and refrigerant, it is not recommended homeowners attempt these repairs for their own safety. Refrigerant handlers must also be EPA certified.
What you can do
One of the biggest reasons people experience air conditioner problems is due to a dirty furnace filter. This is very common and easily prevented. A dirty filter restricts the amount of air that flows through the evaporator coil. When this occurs the coil gets too cold and the system will freeze up. Changing your filter monthly is the best line of defense.
Keep in mind, the most expensive filter is not always the right answer. If your duct system isn’t designed for a high-efficient filter, more likely than not, you should opt for the least expensive filter.
For questions or concerns regarding your air conditioning system, contact Wyckoff Heating & Cooling today.