5 Common Causes of Air Conditioner Failure and How to Avoid Them

Air conditioners are a great way to keep your home cool and comfortable during the hot summer months. However, air conditioners can fail due to a variety of reasons. In this article, we'll discuss the five most common causes of air conditioner failure and how to prevent them. One of the main causes of air conditioning faults is a dirty air filter.

This is very common and can be easily prevented by changing the filter once a month. A dirty filter restricts the amount of air flowing through the evaporator coil, causing it to get too cold and freeze. Improper installation of a central air conditioner can also lead to duct leaks and low airflow. Unqualified service technicians often fail to detect refrigerant charging problems or even worsen existing problems by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full.

Make sure you know what to ask for when hiring a technician to service your air conditioner. Coils can freeze if they are blocked by plants, debris, or soot due to air pollution. You may notice ice, icicles, or frost build up on the outdoor unit if this happens. Dirty coils can also cause an air conditioner failure as dirt on the coils prevents air flow.

A wiring problem, such as a fuse or a blown circuit, could also cause your air conditioner to fail. Vibrating the unit could cause two cables to separate after years of use. Insulation can degrade when exposed to extreme temperatures and pests could enter the unit and damage the wiring. An overvoltage or blackout could damage the circuit that serves the air conditioning system, as well as an electric shock from a nearby lightning strike. An overheated motor is also one of the main causes of AC power failures.

The motor powers the fan that allows the overheated coolant to dissipate its energy. If the motor overheats, the fan stops spinning and the build-up of heat will cause the air conditioner's safety switch to activate. Sometimes the engine will give some warning signs that it is about to break, such as squeaking or banging sounds or if the fan is running slowly or intermittently. While it's very easy to fix, many air conditioner faults are due to dirty air filters. Air conditioning systems mainly use disposable filters made of spun fiberglass, pleated paper, or cloth attached to a cardboard frame. Each time the system cycles, the filter captures dust, pollen, hair, skin cells, pet dander, and more.

After 30 days of regular use, the filter usually has a light layer of debris and 90 days after installation, it is likely to have a thick layer of debris that will need to be removed and replaced. Leaving a dirty air filter in the system makes it work harder as it prevents cooled air from passing through. This causes the motor or fan to overheat and during an annual air conditioner tune-up, technicians clean the coils to avoid this problem. Duct cleaning every three years ensures that air can pass through and inspections identify loose areas, voids, and cracks in the ducts. What you do to avoid this completely avoidable failure will depend on the make and model of your air conditioner. If your air conditioner needs refrigerant every year, it will most likely leak in the refrigerant circuit and need to be repaired or replaced. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it's because it was undercharged at the time of installation or is leaking. Since these are high-voltage electrical and refrigerant equipment, it is not recommended that homeowners attempt to carry out these repairs for their own safety.

If you have questions or concerns about your air conditioning system, contact Wyckoff Heating & Cooling today.

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