Are you feeling the heat this summer? Does your air conditioner seem like it just can’t keep up, even though it isn’t that old and worked great before? There are a couple of common problems that you can check yourself before calling an expensive repair technician, or even worse, buying an unnecessary replacement!
Air conditioners use a refrigerant to move heat from the inside of your home to the exterior. The coolant is pumped in a continuous loop, goes through a couple of phase changes, and absorbs and dissipates heat along the way. To keep things simple lets just say it needs to get the hot out of the home and move the cold in, and look at common problems that hinder this simple function.
Get the Hot Out
After the coolant has absorbed heat from the inside of your home it is pumped outside. The air conditioner box that sits outside your home has a big fan that helps dissipate that heat. If anything impedes the fan’s ability to flow it will restrict the unit’s ability to get the hot out. For the fan to work properly, the air conditioning unit should have a minimum 6 inches of clearance on all sides. Remove any obstructions, such as vegetation growing on or near the cabinet as pictured above, and your home temperature could be comfortable again.
Get the Cold In
Once the heat is fully dissipated the cold refrigerant will be pumped back into the house. It’s important to keep the coolant cold so it can absorb as much heat as possible, which is why air conditioners are plumbed with insulation on the line where it enters the home. The weather will wear out this insulation, and if it is damaged or missing the coolant will absorb heat from the outside before it ever gets in your home. Below you can see worn insulation exposing the bare coolant line (only the larger diameter line should be insulated). This line should be fully encapsulated in insulation, which is available and inexpensive at almost any hardware store.
If you make sure the fan is unobstructed and the larger diameter coolant line is insulated, you will have your air conditioner setup to run as designed. Both are simple DIY projects and cost less than having a technician out for a house call. Take a look before you pick up the phone!
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