So What Exactly Goes Wrong When Air Conditioners Break?

Air conditioners are complex mechanical systems that depend on a wide variety of specific conditions to work correctly, and this is why it is so important to call a professional like Avis when they break.

Remember, air conditioners are designed to: 

  • to meet a certain “load” on the house
  • have certain amount of refrigerant, known as the “charge”
  • have a certain amount of airflow across the coils

When any of these things changes, the system will have problems. For example, if you produce more heat indoors either from having more people or appliances or because of changes in the house, the air conditioning may not be able to keep up.

If the refrigerant charge on the system leaks out, it lowers the capacity of the system. You will simply get less cooling and system will not be able to keep up when the load gets high. Your bill will likely run higher and your system will wear out sooner. Likewise, if airflow across the outdoor (condenser) coil is reduced, the ability to move the heat to outdoors is reduced and, again, the capacity of the system may go down — especially on hotter days.

In dry climates, higher airflow helps and lower airflow hurts when it comes to cooling. In humid climates like Southwest Florida, however, the situation is more complex. At higher airflows, there will be less dehumidification, actually leading to high indoor humidity. Conversely, if the airflow gets too low the evaporator coil may freeze. This makes performance worse and can actually permanently damage the compressor.

Fixing small issues before they turn into major problems like equipment failure will save you a ton of money. This is why it is important that if you have an issue and need AC repair, you call a qualified Cape Coral air conditioning company like Avis Plumbing & Air Conditioning immediately.

Do I Really Have To Change My Filter?

The short answer? Yes.

Almost all air conditioning systems have a filter “upstream” of the evaporator coil. This can be inside the return grill (the big vent in your house) or in special slots in the duct system. It typically is fuzzy-looking or looks like folded paper. This filter removes particles from the air to both keep the air conditioning system clean and to make the air healthier to breathe.

As the filter does its job, it gets loaded with more and more particles. When this happens, it is time to change the filter. How long it will take to happen depends on how dirty the air is and how big the filter is.

If you don’t change the filter, the air flow will go down, and the system will not perform well. Not only that, but if the filter is too dirty it starts to become a source of air pollution itself.

If you take the filter out completely, you would solve the low air flow problem, but this victory would be short lived. The particles that the filter would have normally removed from the air will now build up on your evaporator coil, eventually causing it to fail. A new filter is a lot cheaper!

What About My Ducts and Vents?

Another reason air conditioner systems may not cool the air enough is because of duct leakage. Duct leakage can reduce 20 to 40% of the energy out of even a well-operating air conditioner, especially if the ducts pass outside the cooled space (such as attics, crawlspaces, and garages). Ducts outside — especially in Florida’s heat — definitely need to be well-insulated. There are various products exist specifically for insulating your ducts that Avis can help you with.
You might be able to squeeze an extra half ton of air conditioning capacity if you have Avis properly seal your leaky ducts. An air conditioning video duct inspection can help determine the state your ducts are in.

Is AC Maintenance Really That Necessary?

Yes! Proper maintenance is the difference between your unit lasting for a year or lasting for ten. Extremely basic and routine maintenance such as changing filters can be handled by most of our customers, but others require the professional service of a qualified Cape Coral air conditioning company..

For example, it’s a good idea to brush dirt and obstructions from the coils and the drains at the start of each warm season. Depending on the system and the consumer, this may require a service call from a professional. If the system is not producing as much cold air as it should, it could also be an indication of a refrigerant charge or airflow problem. These are things best left to professionals like Avis, so please don’t hesitate to give us a call if you want to extend the life of your air conditioning unit.

In Part 3 of this series, we will look at air conditioning’s lesser known function: controlling humidity.

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