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Does it seem like your air conditioner has been running all the time lately? If so, you shouldn’t ignore the changes in its operating habits. There are many potential issues that could explain why your AC system is suddenly working overtime, and most involve problems that need to be addressed.
Here are eight possibilities that could explain your air conditioner’s “compulsive” behavior:
When HVAC technicians installed your heating and cooling system, they were supposed to calculate the exact capacity of the equipment you needed. An undersized air conditioner may be constantly running because it is always trying to play catch-up. In the hottest weather, they may barely shut off at all.
If this is your problem, you’ll need to bring in a contractor to perform a Manual J load calculation, which will tell them precisely what size air conditioner you require. They can recommend cost- and energy-efficient upgrades to your system afterwards.
The lifespan of a typical air conditioner is about 15-20 years. After that, parts begin to wear out and performance efficiency slackens. If you’ve been a little lax about maintenance, and haven’t had been scheduling spring and/or fall maintenance and tune-up inspections with your HVAC contractor, even 15 years may be overly optimistic.
The good news is that modern air conditioners are far more energy-efficient than older models. They will pay for themselves through lower utility bills in just a few years’ time.
Cracks and crevices around doors and windows and around holes cut for pipes can cause leaks and/or drafts. Another area of concern is your ductwork: over time, leaks can develop there as well. Regardless of the source of the leaking, during summer the two-way exchange of cool air exiting and warm air penetrating can force your air conditioner to work harder.
You can fix leaks around doors, windows and pipes with caulking and weatherstripping. Leaky ducts would require duct tape or water-based sealant to repair. But if the problem is severe or involves ducts you can’t reach, you may have to call your HVAC contractor to ask for assistance.
Indoor evaporator coils absorb heat from your home’s interior, while condenser coils on the outdoor unit release it into the open air. Should either become coated with dirt, gunk or grime, the whole process of heat absorption and release will be hindered. When heat is neither absorbed nor released efficiently, it may keep your air conditioner running incessantly.
Coil cleaning products are available from HVAC supply stores, although a mixture of detergent and water may do the trick if your coils aren’t too dirty. If the buildup is thick and solid, you may need to bring in the professionals to handle the job.
This could be the problem if your blower is not getting enough air, or if has developed mechanical issues that affect functioning. The latter would require professional maintenance or repairs. If its the former, you may have leaky ductwork or a dirty air filter, or there may be objects blocking your return air grilles.
In addition to checking your grilles for blockages, you should also check your air filter and replace it if it is dirty. In general, air filters will last for one-to-three months before they need replacing. Leaky ducts can also be repaired, if the damage is not too extensive.
You may simply be asking your air conditioner to take on more than it can handle. For example, if its 97 degrees with 80 percent humidity outside, setting your thermostat at 65 may be unrealistic. Your air conditioner will struggle to keep up and this could ultimately lead to a mechanical breakdown.
If this is your problem, turning your thermostat up a few degrees should lift the burden on your AC.
The ideal time to have your air conditioner inspected and serviced is right before the start of the summer cooling season, and again in the fall before the beginning of the winter heating season. Trained HVAC technicians will test your equipment to uncover any malfunctions, clean or replace any parts or components that require it, and offer suggestions on how you can keep your HVAC equipment in better condition in the future.
Heat waves are more common these days, and in the most extreme situations your air conditioner may be a bit overwhelmed. If this only happens occasionally, it might make sense to invest in a few more fans, or to purchase a small window air conditioner to supplement your larger unit.
There are solutions to all these problems, and ABE Heating and Cooling knows all about them. For the things you can fix, we can offer guidance and specific suggestions. For those that require professional intervention, we are standing by ready to jump into action. We are located in Brighton, Colorado and serve the entire Denver Metro Area, and we can help you find affordable and effective solutions for all your air conditioning dilemmas.