As the outdoor temperatures steadily rise, so do the number of service calls for air conditioner repairs. One reason for the increase in service calls is due to the fact that homeowners are less likely to put off repairs when the heat is unbearable. However, the sultry summer heat could be indirectly responsible for most common summer HVAC problems.
The hot and humid summer weather can cause your HVAC unit to work extra hard to keep you comfortable. Also, because the temperatures outside can be extreme, you may be more aware of unit cooling inefficiency.
Commonly Reported Summer HVAC Problems
Here are a few of the most common summer HVAC problems, how you can avoid them, and the steps you need to take to fix them.
Poor Air Flow
When your system is running, you should feel cool air coming from your AC registers. If you place your hand over the register and notice little to no air flow, there is obviously something wrong. This is an indication that there is poor air flow to your HVAC unit.
There are several things that can cause poor air flow.
A common summer culprit is summer vegetation. WIth warm temperatures and sunny days, the plants around your outdoor unit grow faster. If left unchecked, these plants could grow up around the unit and create a leafy barrier, trapping the heat inside. This causes a decrease in efficiency and potential overheating.
Air conditioners need intake and exhaust air to operate efficiently. Be sure to keep shrubs, grass, and other outdoor plants trimmed well away from your outdoor HVAC unit to ensure proper air flow. At least a two-foot clearance is recommended around the equipment and at least five feet above it.
Dirty HVAC Filters
Dirty HVAC filters can also cause air flow issues. Because the air conditioner is running more frequently during hot temperatures, it is circulating more air. This can cause the filters to become dirty faster. It is a good idea to change your HVAC filters more frequently during the months your system is working hardest to keep you cool.
Again, because your unit is running more frequently, and circulating more air, the coils on your air conditioner can become dirty and clogged. This is particularly true if you haven’t been changing your filters as often as necessary.
Having the system’s coils checked and cleaned by a local HVAC professional before summer begins can help keep air moving freely over them. However, it is better late than never. If you are having poor air flow issues, it may be as simple as a routine maintenance visit.
Contrary to popular belief, your HVAC system does not consume refrigerant as it cools your home. A properly working unit shouldn’t need a regular refill of refrigerant.
Over time, however, your HVAC system may develop tiny leaks that can allow refrigerant to slowly seep out, leading to a low refrigerant charge. An undercharged air conditioner will struggle to cool your home effectively. The result is longer run times, a decrease in energy efficiency, higher utility bills, and possible overheating.
During a routine maintenance visit, your HVAC technician will check refrigerant levels and inspect your coils and refrigerant lines for any leaks. If your unit has a refrigerant leak, the technician will seal the leaks before adding more refrigerant.
If you suspect your system may be suffering from low refrigerant charge, contact your local HVAC professional for help.
Problems with Electrical Lines
The exposed electrical components on your unit may be more susceptible to damage during the summer. Take extra care when trimming grass or other vegetation around your unit. A string trimmer or electric shears can damage the fins on the outside or accidentally clip the electrical wiring.
Since pets often spend more time outdoors during the summer, they can also pose a hazard to your unit’s electrical lines. To keep pets from chewing on electrical wires or urinating on electrical components, you may need to secure the area around your outdoor component to keep it safe from your furry friends.
All the common HVAC problems listed above are relatively easy to repair. However, if left unfixed, they could lead to more serious and expensive problems.
Insufficient air flow, poor refrigerant charge, and electrical issues will eventually cause the unit’s the compressor to overwork, overheat, and ultimately break down. Replacing an HVAC compressor is not only expensive, it is very inconvenient, leaving you and your family to suffer the uncomfortable summer heat.
That is why it is important to call a licensed HVAC technician at the first sign your air conditioner isn’t working properly. Waiting too long could lead to more serious repairs.
It is also important to schedule regular annual maintenance to ensure your system is running smoothly and easily. Like the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
If you have any questions or need to schedule maintenance or repairs, be sure to contact your local HVAC professionals.