We depend on our AC or heaters to keep us comfortable all year round. They’re easy to take for granted until they stop working. Fortunately, most HVAC issues are fairly easy to spot, if we’re paying attention, and the best approach to avoid dealing with a costly AC or heat pump emergency is catching smaller issues before they turn into major issues. Here are a some common signs that your HVAC needs some attention.
1. Sudden Increase In Energy Costs
If your power bill suddenly increases dramatically, chances are your system is in need of service or replacement. Lack of efficiency causes your unit to work harder than it should, which not only leads to it requiring more energy to function, but also leads to premature wear and tear on the whole system. Advanced age of your HVAC system, duct leaks, or a broken thermostat are just a few possible issues that could result in a sudden energy spike, and should be promptly assessed by a professional.
2. Short Cycling
Your HVAC system typically goes through routine cooling cycles, even in cooler weather, and understandably, more frequently during warmer months. However, if your AC seems to turn off before reaching your desired temperature, resulting in short but frequent cycles, it is indicative of a problem. A dirty or clogged filter, frozen evaporator coils, leaking refrigerant or an electrical issue can prevent your system from running a complete cooling cycle.
3. Warm Air When You Don’t Want It
If you notice warm air coming from your vents while the AC is on, your system could be failing, or is in need of repair. It may sound silly, but occasionally warm air is the result of a thermostat that isn’t set correctly, or that has accidentally been changed to a different setting. When a thermostat is set to on instead of auto, the fan will blow air consistently, even when the AC isn’t running a cooling cycle. This air will typically be warmer than expected.
Warm air could also be the result of airflow restriction due to dirty coils, compressor or a filter that needs replacing. Slightly more serious issues could include a blown fuse or circuit breaker which could be indicative of a major issue and will need to be looked at by a professional immediately.
Image via Flickr by VirtualWolf
Moisture anywhere in or around your HVAC unit means there’s a problem. On the less serious end, a leak could be water, indicating perhaps a condensation tube is either blocked or broken. When this happens, you’ll see water either pooling or leaking out of the unit, or notice ice on the refrigerant lines around the condenser. The more serious end is a refrigerant leak. Freon is poisonous, so if this is suspected, a professional should be contacted immediately.
While some issues require immediate attention, even non-emergency indicators should be investigated and assessed by a reputable contractor such as Woods Comfort Systems as soon as possible to avoid further damage or potential future emergencies. Of course, regular maintenance in between service visits will help prevent most problems altogether.