The weather is warming up and summer is just about here. Is your air conditioning ready for the months ahead?
It’s always a good idea to try running your A/C a few times before those heavy months of use to clear out the system and prevent it from getting overwhelmed. You should also clean out any noticeable debris build up and replace filters if you have not done so for a while. This is also a good time to pay close attention to the system and check for any potential problems that may need professional attention.
By taking the time to evaluate your A/C system now, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress (not to mention sweat) later on when the temperatures are at their peak. While the system can’t exactly tell you when something is broken, damaged or just needs a little care from a professional, it does tend to give off some key warning sends. Follow this quick guide to check your A/C out and see if it’s crying out for help:
Is it Running Quietly?
When it’s working properly, you shouldn’t be able to hear your air conditioning at all unless you are right next to it. Even then, the noise you do hear should be nothing more than a pleasant hum of air flowing. Banging noises, clanking, pounding, grinding, intense whirring, squeaking, etc. are all cause for concern. A good rule of thumb here is if it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. A good A/C professional will be able to listen and diagnose the issue so it can be fixed.
Does it Smell?
Your A/C shouldn’t give off any smells, much less bad ones. If you notice anything that smells like burning, dirty socks, mold, must, etc., turn off the system and make an appointment with a professional as soon as possible. There could be a variety of causes for this (such as mold/mildew, a dead animal trapped in the unit, a pest infestation, or even parts not working correctly and causing friction), but because you won’t know the severity right away, it’s best to keep your A/C off until the problem can be handled professionally.
How is the Air Temperature?
One of the best ways to figure out whether or not something is wrong is to take stock of the air itself. Is it too warm despite being on the coldest setting? Is the air cool but very unevenly dispersed throughout your home? Do you need to keep running it for longer and longer periods of time just to get your home to an acceptable temperature? If you answered “yes” to any of those, it’s high time you had the system checked out by a pro. There are a few different things that can cause this problem, and the good news is that it often does not mean that the whole system needs to be replaced.
Do Any Areas of Your Home Feel ‘Stuffy’?
A good A/C system that is working as it should will distribute air evenly throughout your home without noticeable temperature differences. If you do notice that it is failing to do this or that any rooms feel like the air is suffocating or “stuffy”, then it is definitely time to call in some help. The problem could be as simple as a blocked or damaged vent that can be fixed or replaced, but it could also indicate more serious mechanical issues.
When your A/C is running properly, you shouldn’t have to throw open any windows or run fans to try to cool certain areas of your home. Please note that this is different from multi-zone A/C systems, which actually allow you to control the temperature in different rooms (still, no room should ever feel “stuffy”).
Is the Thermostat Reading Accurately?
Even if everything else seems to be functioning properly, an A/C unit with an inaccurate thermostat is cause for concern. While there could simply be something wrong with the display, an inaccurate reading could also indicate a more severe problem. Sometimes mechanical issues may not be noticeable by themselves (while they are still minor), but they may affect the temperature display depending on their placement. While it may not seem serious on the surface, this is a good problem to not ignore.
Are Your Energy Bills Staying Consistent?
Obviously, your air conditioning / energy bills will fluctuate between seasons and temperature needs. However, they should be staying fairly consistent throughout each season. If you notice that your bills keep jumping up throughout warm weather months, then your air conditioning may be pushing itself too hard. An air conditioning constantly going into overdrive is cause for concern, especially if you’re not constantly playing around with the temperature.
Even older A/C systems that are running properly will run efficiently enough so that you shouldn’t see much difference in your cooling bills from month to month. In this case, it’s time to call in a professional before the problem gets any worse and keeps costing you money.