Sweltering summers are no match for your home’s air conditioning. That is, if it’s working correctly! If your air conditioning is broken, your home can get unbearably hot and inside humidity will skyrocket. Too much humidity also allows mold to grow and attracts bugs into your home.
For all these reasons, it’s important to maintain your home’s AC unit. With that in mind, what are the signs that an air conditioner needs repair?
Your air conditioning needs to be repaired if it’s making weird noises, the unit runs all the time; It ices up, it never cools to the thermostat setting, water leaks from condensation or blocked pipes puddle water around the inside part of AC unit. If your AC unit is 12 to 15 years old, there’s a good chance it will need repairs.
Note, too, that there are updated types of Freon used in air conditioning units that are more eco- friendly than older versions, so an aging air conditioning unit may need to be replaced if it should suffer a Freon leak.
How Can I Tell If My AC Compressor Is Bad?
The air conditioning compressor is housed in your outdoor unit. The compressor circulates the Freon, compressing it and then sending it to the fan unit where the air blows over the cold Freon. Here are a few signs that your compressor is bad:
- Loud, motor noise. This is often the first sign of compressor trouble. Air conditioning contractors call this noise a “hard start ” which you hear as soon as the air conditioning comes on. The AC unit might shake or shutter. If you hear these noises, give your AC contractor a call right away.
- Warm air instead of cool air; warm air coming out of your vents could mean your compressor is broken.
- Dirty compressor coil. If the compressor coils get dirty, the compressor will overheat. This makes the system work harder and run longer to do its job.
- Leaks. If your unit has a slow Freon leak the unit will freeze up, but if you have a big leak, you will get hot air instead of cold.
- Electrical problems. Compressor motors fail when there is a short to the grounding site, or a short that disconnects. Corrosion of the wires also causes problems.
- Lack of lubricant. Oil lubricant is used to keep parts functioning. If you see evidence of a leak, this could the metal parts rubbing against each other. This is a sign that the compressor is broken.
Your compressor will last 10 to 15 years if it’s well maintained. But even with good maintenance, if the compressor’s life is ending, it will need to be replaced.
What Does It Cost To Repair An Air Conditioning Unit?
Air conditioning repairs in the U.S. average around $300. Replacing an AC compressor yourself costs less, around $300 to $600. Hiring an air conditioning contractor, also called an HVAC contractor, to replace a compressor will cost $1,500 to $2,000.
A brand new air conditioning unit replacement costs between $1,500 to $4,000. Prices vary depending upon where you live and what size AC unit you need.
How Can I Tell if My AC Condenser is Bad?
The air conditioning condenser is in the outside unit along with the compressor. It’s the heat pump that condenses the refrigerant and releases or collects heat depending on the time of year. The condenser includes a coil, compressor, fan and controls.
The most notable sign that your condenser isn’t working is that hot air is coming out of your AC rather than cool air. If you call your HVAC technician, he or she will do a gauge test to check the Freon levels and pressure inside the condenser. It’s a good idea to have your AC condenser checked twice a year-in the fall right prior to the cold weather and in the spring prior to summer.
Other signs your condenser is not working:
- Freezing up
- Low pressure
What To Do If an AC Goes Out?
If you notice that your AC isn’t cooling your house it could mean it’s outright broken. Here are some steps to take:
- Check the thermostat. Turn it off and then back on. Then turn your AC unit on manually, if it starts you know your thermostat is broken which is an easy fix.
- Check your circuit breaker. If there’s been a power surge, it could have tripped the circuit breaker causing your power to go out.
- Check for damage. Look around your AC unit for signs of leaks , rust, smoke or debris around the unit. If you see any of these signs, call your HVAC technician right away.
How to Find a Good HVAC Contractor?
Your air conditioning unit needs regular maintenance and repairs. It’s important to have an HVAC contractor you can trust. To find a reliable, well qualified technician:
- Ask your neighbors for recommendations. Your neighbors are a great source of information for finding a good contractor. They’ll tell you if the technician is expensive, knowledgeable and dependable.
- Research online. If your neighbors aren’t a good option, look for local contractors online. Read the customer reviews. Make sure there are plenty of reviews, not just one or two. The contractor’s website may look professional, but if he or she has poor reviews, steer clear.
- Check for licenses and certifications. A contractor’s business website will say if they are licensed and certified.
- Ask questions. Once you find a contractor, ask if he or she has insurance if there are damages to your home.
- Inspections. Ask the contractor if he or she is willing to perform an inspection before repairs. Technicians should offer to inspect an AC unit before giving you an estimate. They should look for leaks,
- measure the air conditioning airflow, and inspect your unit’s insulation to make sure it meets code.
- Get another bid! Even if you’ve found a reliable contractor who suggests that your air conditioning should be replaced or repaired, get another bid. For large home repairs, it’s always a good idea to compare prices. Also, ask for warranties associated with the repairs or new AC unit.
- Get a contract. Get everything in writing-date of services, cost for parts and labor.