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Common Spring AC problems (and How to Fix Them)

Outdoor air conditioner behind yellow spring flowers.

Spring heralds warmer weather and the revival of nature, but it also brings some challenges for your air conditioning system. As temperatures rise, many discover that their AC unit isn’t performing up to par after lying dormant during the winter months. This can manifest as a lack of cold air, strange noises, or an unexpected increase in energy bills. Identifying and addressing these common spring AC problems early can prevent more significant issues as the season progresses.

For most homeowners, the transition from heating to cooling isn’t always smooth. The change in usage can expose issues that might have developed unnoticed. By tackling these challenges head-on, you can enhance the efficiency of your cooling system and reduce operating costs, all while extending the life of your AC unit.

Why Spring Can Be Problematic for Your AC

Spring presents unique challenges to your air conditioning system primarily due to the transition from minimal use during the winter to frequent use as temperatures climb. This sudden shift can exacerbate existing issues or reveal hidden problems within your AC unit. For example, air filters that went unchanged through the winter can clog more quickly, restricting airflow and degrading indoor air quality.

Moreover, the external components of your AC system, like the condenser unit and evaporator coils, can accumulate debris during the dormant winter months. This buildup can impair the system’s ability to emit cold air, leading to inadequate cooling and discomfort. 

These problems, if not addressed before peak summer months, can compromise the efficiency of your system, increasing operating costs and putting unnecessary strain on the air conditioner.

Common AC Problems

Watch out for these red flags that could impact the performance of your HVAC system.

Dirty Air Filter

A clogged air filter is more than just a minor nuisance; it is a major impediment to your AC system. It can drastically reduce airflow, leading to poor indoor air quality and making your system work harder to circulate air. This not only leads to discomfort but can also increase your utility bills as your system consumes more energy to achieve the desired temperature.

Regular replacement or cleaning of air filters is crucial, especially during seasons of high usage like spring and summer.

How to Replace or Clean Air Filters

Replacing or cleaning the air filter in your AC unit is one of the easiest yet most effective ways to improve your system’s performance. To replace a dirty filter, locate the filter housing, which is typically situated along the return duct or in the air handler. Remove the old filter, making note of its size and type, and replace it with a new one that matches the specifications.

For washable filters, remove the filter, use a gentle water spray to remove dirt, and let it air dry completely before reinstalling it. Ensure that the filter is dry to avoid mold growth. Regularly cleaning or replacing the air filter every 30 to 90 days, depending on usage, will significantly improve airflow and cooling efficiency in your home.

Inactive or Faulty Thermostats

The thermostat is your air conditioner’s brain, dictating when and how your system provides cooling. If your thermostat is not functioning correctly, it may fail to communicate effectively with the AC unit, leading to erratic behavior like constant cycling or failure to turn on. 

Troubleshooting a thermostat involves checking its settings, ensuring it’s on the correct mode, and confirming that it’s not affected by direct sunlight or other heat sources that could misread the actual room temperature.

Troubleshooting and Repairing Your Thermostat

Troubleshooting your thermostat should begin with verifying that it is set to “cool” and that the temperature settings are lower than the room temperature. Check the batteries if it is battery-operated, as weak batteries can sometimes lead to loss of function. Make sure that the thermostat is not influenced by external factors like sunlight or drafts, which could affect its temperature readings.

If your thermostat continues to malfunction, it may require recalibration or replacement. Recalibration is something that can typically be handled by homeowners, but for replacing or repairing more complex electrical components, it’s best to contact a professional from Squeak’s Plumbing Heating & Air for help.

Dirty Condenser Coils

The condenser coils, located in the outdoor unit of your AC system, play a crucial role in expelling heat from your home. Over the winter months, these coils can become covered in dirt, leaves, and other debris, which insulates the coil and reduces its ability to expel heat effectively. This inefficiency can cause your system to run longer and work harder, which not only raises your energy bills but can also shorten the lifespan of the system.

What you might not realize is that dirty coils can quickly and unexpectedly become frozen coils. How? It can be caused by insufficient airflow from a dirty filter, low refrigerant levels, or poor circulation through duct leaks. A frozen coil can damage the compressor, leading to costly repairs or even a complete system replacement. More importantly, it prevents the AC system from cooling properly. 

Cleaning your condenser coils is essential for maintaining the efficiency of your air conditioning system. A dirty condenser coil can ultimately cause the AC unit to overheat or fail. Regular cleaning as part of spring maintenance ensures that your system runs optimally.

Cleaning Condenser Coils Properly

Cleaning the condenser coils of your AC system is crucial for maintaining its efficiency. Begin by shutting off the power to the unit to ensure safety. Remove any debris, such as leaves or dirt, from around the condenser unit. Use a garden hose to gently wash the condenser coil, taking care not to bend the delicate fins with the water pressure.

For a deeper clean, you may use a coil cleaner available at most hardware stores. Apply the cleaner according to the manufacturer’s instructions, let it sit to break down the dirt, and then rinse it off thoroughly. Keeping the condenser coils clean prevents common air conditioner problems such as overheating and inefficiency.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is the lifeblood of your air conditioning system, circulating within the coils to facilitate the transfer of heat out of your home. Low refrigerant levels can significantly impair your system’s ability to cool your home, leading to inadequate cooling and increased energy consumption. This issue is often indicated by ice buildup on the evaporator coil and prolonged operation times.

It’s vital to address refrigerant leaks as soon as they are suspected. Not only do they affect the performance of your AC system, but they are also harmful to the environment. 

Checking and Refilling Refrigerant

Refrigerant issues should be handled by a certified professional due to the technical and environmental considerations involved. An HVAC technician can check the refrigerant levels using specialized tools and refill it if necessary. It’s important not to attempt this yourself, as improper handling of refrigerant can be hazardous and is regulated by environmental laws.

Preventive Maintenance Tips

Preventive maintenance is key to avoiding common spring AC problems. This includes regular checks and cleanings of the air filter, condenser coils and evaporator coils, as well as ensuring that all electrical components are in good working condition.

Additionally, make sure that all the vents in your home are open and unobstructed to promote even airflow. This not only enhances indoor air quality but also reduces strain on your AC unit, helping to maintain consistent cooling and reducing operating costs.

Scheduling Professional Inspections

How do you know for sure that your AC system is in top shape for the spring and summer? By scheduling professional AC maintenance in Denver, CO! A comprehensive check by a qualified technician can identify potential issues that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. These inspections can prevent minor issues from becoming major repairs and can also ensure that your cooling system is as efficient as possible.

Regular Cleaning and Care

Regular cleaning and care of your AC unit can significantly impact its longevity and efficiency. 

  • Clear the area around the outdoor unit of any debris or vegetation that could obstruct airflow. 
  • Clean the drain pan and lines to prevent blockages.
  • Check for any signs of wear or damage to the ductwork to ensure there are no duct leaks.
  • Indoors, maintain clear paths around all vents to ensure proper air flow and avoid placing furniture or curtains too close to the vents. 

These simple steps can help maintain the efficiency of your air conditioning system and prevent future issues.

When to Call a Professional

While many AC maintenance tasks can be performed by homeowners, there are times when it is best to call a professional. If your AC unit stops cooling properly, emits unusual noises, or starts leaking water, it’s time to call in the experts from Squeak’s Plumbing Heating & Air. These signs often indicate more complex issues that require professional diagnosis and repair.

Professionals can handle tasks that involve electrical components, refrigerant, and detailed internal inspections. Relying on experts not only helps resolve immediate problems but also prevents potential future issues.

Keep Calm and Cool Down With Squeak’s

Spring brings with it a slew of potential issues for your air conditioning system, but with the right knowledge and approach, these can be easily managed or prevented. Regular maintenance, including cleaning and replacing parts like the air filter and checking the condenser coils, plays a crucial role in keeping your system running smoothly. For those tasks that require a bit more expertise, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Contact Squeak’s Plumbing Heating & Air today to schedule your air conditioning service in Denver, CO and ensure your home is ready to beat the heat!

Outdoor air conditioner behind yellow spring flowers.

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