4 Ways Homeowners Cause their AC to Break Down

During the Virginia summer, your air conditioner works hard to make your home an oasis from the scorching heat and sweltering humidity. That being said, the last thing you or your family wants is for that oh-so-important piece of machinery to break down on a hot and humid summer day.

However, if you aren’t careful, you may be doing some things that can lead to that exact situation without even knowing it.

So to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 4 common things homeowners do that may cause their air conditioners to break down (as well as what to do about it).


Closing air vents in unused rooms

The problem: Closing the vents actually restricts the airflow through your duct work and air conditioner, causing it to run longer and work harder to keep your house cool. If left unchecked, this may eventually cause your AC to freeze up or even overheat and trip your circuit breaker.

The reason for this is that your air conditioner is sized to work with a certain amount of airflow. Closing off vents reduces the volume of air flowing over your evaporator coil (the part that sucks the heat out of the air). 

Without proper air flow your coil will get cold, really cold. Once that happens, moisture from inside your house can start to condensate on the coil and eventually turn to ice. This layer of ice on the coil further reduces the airflow, which drops the temperature on the coil even more, which causes even more ice to form, and so on. All the while, your AC is going to get worse and worse at cooling your home, until eventually it’s unable to do its job.

Alternatively, all that extra work may just cause the air conditioner to begin drawing so many amps that it eventually trips your circuit breaker and shuts off completely.

But your problems may not end there. Closing your vents can also cause higher energy bills for your home, an increased likelihood of duct leakage, uneven temperature in your home, and even shorten your AC’s lifespan.

The fix: Make sure to open up any vents you’ve closed in your home! While you’re doing that, it’s also a good idea to make sure your vents aren’t blocked by furniture either.


Forgetting to change your air filter

The problem: A dirty air filter impedes airflow, and we already know what a restriction in airflow can mean for your air conditioner…in fact, you’d probably be surprised how many of our service calls are generated from dirty filters alone.

The fix: ENERGY STAR recommends changing your air filter every 3 months, at a minimum. However, A/C Masters recommends checking your filter monthly and replacing it when it looks dirty.

For more information and tips on air filters, you can check out our YouTube channel.


Letting dogs mark your outside unit

The problem: Dogs (especially male ones) sometimes like to urinate on outdoor AC units. Unfortunately, since dog urine is acidic, it can often damage and/or destroy the coils and fins, which are essential to the operation of your cooling system. Once that’s happened, you may have to replace the whole condenser in order to get your system back to 100% (not cheap!).

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about why you shouldn’t let your dog urinate on your AC.

The fix: Keep an eye on your dog(s) when you let them outside and make sure to stop them from doing their business on your air conditioner. For many homeowners, an easy fix for this is to install removable fence around the system, that way you can be sure that the neighborhood dogs won’t come sniffing around either.  Just remember to make everything accessible for your HVAC technician!


Missing your annual AC maintenance

The problem: Routine and timely AC maintenance is a great way to help catch potential problems before they become much bigger headaches. If you miss your seasonal service, you may not catch common problems like:

  • Low refrigerant charge/refrigerant leaks.
  • Bad electrical connections.
  • A clogged condensate drain.
  • Dirty condenser and evaporator coils.

The fix: Don’t forget to have a qualified, professional HVAC technician go over your system before the summer really sets in. At A/C Masters, we recommend a routine service twice a year, that way you can make sure your system is ready for both the heating and cooling seasons, while also keeping your existing manufacturer warranties in place.

For more information on this, or any of the other services we offer, call our office at 757-898-2894, or visit our website at https://acmasters.com

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