Someday, in the not too far off future, we may have air conditioners that self-diagnose malfunctions and report them back to the homeowner in detail. It’s really not too far-fetched of an idea when you think about it.
In the meantime, however, before this becomes a reality, we need to rely on other methods for our air conditioners to send warning signs that something is wrong. Maybe it’s a drop in cooling power, or an unexplained spike in your energy bills. Or, it could be that your circuit breakers for the indoor and outdoor units are constantly tripping.
One of the most common signs that something is wrong with an air conditioner is strange noises. What qualifies as a strange noise? Honestly, anything that’s different from the normal hum of the fans and the compressor, plus the occasional clicking as the system comes on and shuts down and the temperature fluctuations cause the ductwork to adjust.
What sort of sounds are we talking about? Well, we’ve listed 6 ominous sounds below. If you hear any of them, please give our team a call right away.
We’re talking about a rather loud, mechanical shrieking sound. This is most commonly the sign of a motor problem, or at least the sign of a motor bearing that is wearing down. The fact that the motor bearing wore down is not uncommon, or “bad,” but it must be remedied right away.
A worn-down motor bearing will eventually create too much friction for the motor, and permanently damage it. Our technicians can quickly and accurately replace the bearings in order to save your motor and prevent further subsequent damage.
A grinding sound is also indicative of a motor issue. It’s typically caused by a motor that’s accumulated too much dust, or has lost too much lubrication. Again, this is a natural part of wear and tear (and something that is checked during professional maintenance) but it is not something to ignore.
In addition to this grinding noise, you may smell an acrid stench from your vents—a sign the motor is already overheating. Please turn off your air conditioner right away in this case, and call our pros!
Rattling can actually be a really minor “problem.” It may be indicative of nothing more than a loose cabinet door—something you may be able to fix on your own with a few twists of a screwdriver.
Alternatively, however, it may be that loose components are being knocked around in your blower fan, or that you have bent fan blades. It could even be that your AC cabinet is coming loose from the slab, or you have duct damage and that’s where the sound is coming from. When it doubt, please don’t hesitate to give us a call!
Also described as a “bubbling” noise, hissing is typically the sign of a refrigerant leak. Refrigerant is the fluid that makes the whole cooling process possible in your air conditioner. Without enough of it, your air conditioner will start experiencing a number of problems, including full system failure.
In addition to a hissing or bubbling noise, refrigerant leaks are signaled by a drop in cooling power and possibly ice development on the evaporator coil (this is never normal and should not be removed by the homeowner).
We mentioned clicking above as a natural sound an air conditioner makes—and it is, when the system starts up and cycles down. But if you’re hearing it the whole time the compressor runs, you might have a problem on your hands.
Also, if you notice your air conditioner is “hard starting”—that is, it’s struggling to come on and then booming once it does, then it’s a sign that it’s having a hard time powering the compressor and needs a professional inspection.
This is perhaps one of the most alarming sounds you can hear come from your air conditioner. It can be something like a loose fan belt, or a bent air handler that the fan blades are knocking into. This is most likely to occur in an older air conditioner. But if you hear it in a newer AC system, it’s definitely a sign that you need to call a pro.
The summer seasons is officially here, though we’re sure you’d agree with us that summer started quite a while ago. As such, you’re probably already using your air conditioner on a daily basis. Does that mean it’s too late to schedule maintenance if you skipped it pre-season?
No, not at all!
In fact, unless your air conditioner has totally broken down and is unresponsive, it’s never too late to have your air conditioner professionally maintained. This is, in fact, a great example of “it’s better late than never.”
Making Annual Maintenance a Priority
Maintenance, or tune-ups as these maintenance appointments are often referred to, is something that every AC system needs done annually. If you have a year-round heat pump system, then it should actually be done twice a year.
If matters more that you have your tune-ups done on a regular basis than it does the time of the year—though it’s certainly more convenient for you to have it done in the cooler months. But why, exactly, does it need to be such a big priority?
Summer Doesn’t Take a Holiday: It’s no secret that the heat rarely takes a break over our summer season. Maintenance tune-ups help ensure that your air conditioner is always ready to deal with the warmer temperatures, no matter how long they last or when they strike.
Skipping Maintenance Means You’re Paying More for Cooling: On average, each year that your AC system goes without its routine tune-up, it loses about 5% of its efficiency, and this drop off gets steeper over time. You’ll end up paying more for the times your air conditioner is running longer than you should have to, because the system is struggling just in order to function.
Regular Tune-Ups Prevent Sudden Breakdowns: The most immediate benefit of regular air conditioning maintenance is that it prevents the system from suddenly shutting down on you during a soaring hot day. There are plenty more of those in the coming months, and you want your cooling system to get through each one of them.
Maintenance Helps Reduce Repair Needs: We don’t want you to spend unnecessary money that you should be using to enjoy summer on repairs on your AC system that you weren’t expecting. Our guess is that you wouldn’t like to do that either. No matter what time of the year it is, if you take precautions with appropriate maintenance, then you’ll be able to prevent about 80% of the repairs your air conditioner may ever need throughout its lifespan!
Remember, maintenance is not a “one and done” service, nor is a service you should only get every few years. You’ll want to work with a qualified team each year who you can trust to do a very thorough job and follow it up with accurate repairs as needed. You’ll get a system that runs better and a wallet that doesn’t get quite as hefty a workload, so long as you keep up on your regular AC tune-ups!
Unlike some other parts of the country where homeowners are turning on their air conditioners for the first time this week, we’ve already had ours going for a while. And we hope, as you’ve been running your cooling system, that it’s been working effectively.
But what if you don’t feel the cool air you expect? This tells a story, and it’s likely not a cheerful one. Granted, it might be a minor issue that you can fix right away. But it could be a major malfunction you’re facing, which will require the help of our AC technicians. Turn to us and we’ll ensure that whatever your AC problem is, it gets properly diagnosed. In the meantime, read on to discover what might be happening with your system.
You Might Have a Clogged Air Filter
This is actually a fairly common reason that an air conditioner might not be providing enough cool air—or rather, enough airflow. The air filter that comes standard with your air conditioner is in place to protect the inside components of your HVAC system (not your indoor air quality as many homeowners believe). Dust and debris can negatively impact parts like the blower assembly of your AC.
If too much debris builds up on the filter, it chokes off the air and the air conditioner won’t receive enough to cool down. Be sure to change your air filter if it is clogged, and remember to change it regularly every 1-3 months during periods of system use.
In some cases, changing the air filter is all you need to do in order to restore proper airflow.
Are You Using a Heat Pump?
Could your thermostat have accidentally been set by a member of your household to go into “heating” mode instead of “cooling” mode? In this case, you definitely won’t be getting the cool air you need! Check your thermostat to ensure it’s in cooling mode.
It could also be a problem with the reversing valve that allows your system to switch between modes. But since you’ve probably been running your system in cooling mode for a few weeks now, at least, chances are you would have noticed this airflow issue far sooner.
Is There a Refrigerant Leak?
Ideally, an air conditioning system only needs to be charged—that is, filled—with refrigerant once, during installation. However, corrosion can occur along the copper of the refrigerant lines as well as the coils, which could allow the chemical refrigerant to start leaking out. When this occurs, the cooling power will certainly begin dropping.
It’s imperative that you call out the pros for this kind of problem. We have to locate the leaks, seal them, and recharge the refrigerant. Failure to do so can eventually lead your compressor to shut down—and without the compressor you do not have a functioning air conditioner.
You May Have Duct Leakage
This isn’t as detrimental as a refrigerant leak, as it won’t directly cause your air conditioner to break down. However, damaged ducts can account for up to 30% of air loss. This means you’re paying for conditioned air that is escaping into unoccupied spaces such as your attic and crawlspace.
Additionally, if you feel less cooled air, the natural inclination is to turn down the thermostat. But damaged ductwork will never allow you to meet the desired temperature setting on your thermostat. Therefore, you’re just forcing your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to, which wears down on the system and will shorten its lifespan.
Summer may as well be here already, with the warmer temperatures we’ve already been dealing with in prior weeks. As such, you’re probably already using your air conditioner on a daily basis, and need it to operate as you expect it to. The last thing you need, after all, is an unexpected breakdown when temperatures are at their highest.
The best thing you can do, if you haven’t already, to fend off ac repair needs is to schedule a maintenance appointment for your system—this allows us to fully inspect, adjust, and clean the system while making recommendations for repairs. Still, though, it’s a wise idea to be aware of the signs that an air conditioner does, in fact, need a repair! Keep reading to learn more.
Common Signs Your Air Conditioner Is in Distress
The good news—and trust us, this is good news—is that most air conditioning malfunctions start giving out signs and symptoms long before they actually cause your system to shut down. So while we don’t recommend trying to diagnose or fix problems on your own due to the potentially hazardous components involved, like refrigerant, you can still spot the signs that your system is suffering. These signs include (but are not limited to):
Low Airflow: Conditioned air that isn’t moving through the vents with the speed you expect can be a big problem. It often means that cold air is trapped in the system, causing the coils to freeze—this disables the coils from being able to absorb heat as they should. Even if the coils are unaffected, reduces airflow means something is causing your system to work harder than it should have to in order to reach the desired temperature on your thermostat. This will create undue strain on your cooling system and cause your bills to rise, too.
Reduced Cooling Power: So, what if the air is coming through just fine, but doesn’t feel cool? This is obviously an annoying problem. And it’s one that can be caused by a number of issues, such as low refrigerant levels, overheating components, or breached in the ductwork. You can detect this issue by simply noting if the air coming through your vents is warmer than you would expect. The reason it creates a problem is the same as above—it forces your air conditioner to work too hard.
Short-Cycling: Short-cycling is the term used to describe when an air conditioner is turning on and off rapidly. The problem with this is that your air conditioner uses more energy turning on and off than it does simply running. You want your air conditioner’s compressor to run for no shorter than 15 minutes at a time—otherwise, it means something is amiss with your system.
Weird Noises: This can be anything from humming and moaning to buzzing, clanging, or really anything that doesn’t match the normal noises you notice while your system is in operation. Listen closely when your air conditioner starts up and when it shuts down to see if anything sounds abnormal—and if it does please don’t hesitate to give our team a call.
With temperatures on the mild side the last couple of months—relatively speaking, anyway—you might not have given much thought to how much we’re going to need our air conditioners in the coming months. And if you run a business or own a commercial property in the Katy area or one of our surrounding communities, it’s even more important you give it some thought. Below are 2 important tips on how to care for your commercial cooling system.
Tip #1: Schedule Commercial AC Maintenance on a Regular Basis
Have you scheduled routine commercial AC maintenance yet? This is one of the best ways to care for your commercial cooling system, helping you avoid major repair issues, saving energy, and improving equipment life. If you think this is an important service for your residential air conditioner, it’s even more so for commercial spaces, no matter what size they are or function they serve.
Efficient air conditioning not only manages the comfort of employees, customers, clients, tenants, and guests, but is vital to protecting sensitive equipment from overheating, too. In a residential space, you need only worry about the comfort of a few, while you have a much larger responsibility in a commercial space.
Taking Care of Business
We understand, since we run a business too, that you are busy, and you have plenty to deal with day in and day out. Scheduling a service for your commercial AC system that you don’t necessary need right now probably doesn’t seem like a big priority in the grand scheme of things, but we urge you to reconsider. Maintenance isn’t about solving problems, but rather preventing them in the first place.
Commercial AC maintenance sessions usually take about 1-2 hours for each unit. If you have a packaged or rooftop unit, you won’t even need to worry about us being in your way or causing any type of business disruption while we tend to your commercial HVAC system. During your maintenance session, our technicians will thoroughly clean and adjust the inside of your system, and comprehensively inspect it for any pending or potential future problems. This inspection includes:
Making sure the air filters aren’t too dirty and clogged.
Lubricating all moving parts to ensure they’re functioning as they should.
Performing a safety check to protect your commercial space and everyone in it.
Tightening electrical connections and checking on the refrigerant levels.
Conducting a thorough check on rooftop units.
If our technicians come across an area of your commercial AC system setup that needs repair to fend off a worsening problem or decline in performance, they will let you know ASAP so you can arrange for necessary repairs at a date and time that’s convenient for you.
Tip #2: Manage Repairs Promptly
Let’s say we notice a problem like a drop in your commercial cooling system’s refrigerant level. Refrigerant is something that shouldn’t ever have to be refilled. If this level has dropped, it means you have a leak. This leak will slowly but surely cause a decline in the performance of your system, and you’ll wind up paying more for less performance.
A commercial AC system can’t adequately do its job with a refrigerant leak, and eventually this will put a lot of strain on the system, which can cause it to break down much earlier than it would have otherwise.
When it comes to air conditioning maintenance, you may already know what to do. Once a year, give a professional a call to come in and inspect your system, make any necessary adjustments, clean the unit inside and out, and recommend repairs if needed.
Is that all that can be done, though? If you’re wondering if once a year is often enough to do any maintenance to your air conditioner, the answer is no.
There is one maintenance task in particular that homeowners can not only do on their own, but they should be doing on their own, and that’s changing the air filter in the system. But, why?
To Improve the Wellbeing of Your Cooling System
There’s a common misconception among homeowners that the air filter in their HVAC system is there to protect the indoor air quality of their home. The truth of the matter is the air filter is in place to protect the interior components of the air conditioner itself from dust, dirt, and other debris that can do it harm.
How this works is, the blower fan sucks in air through the filter before heating or cooling it and sending it out to the vents of your home, and the filter is designed to stop the debris from coming in with it. If a filter is too clogged up, though, it can’t do its job.
What’s more, the blower fan can’t suck in much air at all—meaning airflow is restricted and household members are left feeling uncomfortable. In addition, your air conditioner was designed to take in a certain amount of air with each cycle, so any reduction can interfere with the functionality of the entire system.
To Prevent Costly Repairs
The blower fan we mentioned above is prone to becoming overworked. If a clogged air filter blocks airflow, the fan has to work even harder to keep you comfortable. So if you don’t regularly change the air filter, you may need to replace the blower fan much sooner than you otherwise would have.
Additionally, you’ll also be faced with the possibility of coils freezing over, which is a bad sign for your system. The good news is, these potentially costly problems can easily be prevented by changing the air filter!
To Lower Your Monthly Energy Bills
It’s recommended that you change out the air filter every 1-3 months during periods of system use. We get that you may not feel like purchasing a filter this often is a good use of money, however, this will help keep the costs lower on your energy bills and easily compensate for the cost of the filters.
If your fan is working overtime, your energy bills will reflect it. It might not seem like the cost will be significant, but it adds up, particularly when you factor in what you’re saving on potential repairs.
To Prevent Premature Replacement
Last but not least, the less there is restricting your air conditioner from performing as effectively and efficiently as it should, the longer your air conditioner will last!
We are very excited to announce that our company owner has been bestowed Carrier’s highest honor due to his contribution and service to the heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) industry, his customers, and his community.
Watch the videos below to learn more about our hard-working, caring, and thoughtful owner, a Colombian immigrant who has done everything he can to build his company up into what our customers know today. To his friends, family, and customers, Sonny is the epitome of the successful pursuit of the “American Dream.”
Sonny built Fresh Air, L.P. from a two-man operation to the 21 employees and 11 service trucks we have today. We’ve become the leading full-service residential and commercial HVAC company, with 24-hour emergency service, giving our customers a peace of mind that they’re in good hands with our technicians.
In listening to Sonny himself speak about this honor, you know that this is a man who truly values the community he has built and the family he has raised, who are also involved in the business. Please join us in congratulating Sonny!
The official start of spring just a couple weeks ago was a great reminder that even warmer temps are right around the corner. If you’ve lived our area for even just a year, you know how uncomfortably hot it gets as those temps climb. This means that now is the best time to think about your air conditioner. If you have a system less than 10 years old, this means getting maintenance on your schedule. If it’s any older than that, it means it might be time for an upgrade.
Purchasing a new air conditioner, though, is not something you should rush—for a few reasons. The good news is, when you contact our team we will help you make an educated decision on what type of air conditioner to buy—and most importantly, what size.
Why Size Matters
Let’s talk about that some more. Step one in purchasing a new air conditioner is finding the one that’s the best fit for your home, and we mean that literally. Properly sizing your air conditioner is the only way to truly meet your home’s unique cooling needs. And when we talk about air conditioner “size,” we aren’t just talking about the amount of space that your system takes up, though that matters as well.
What we’re talking about is the amount of energy output relative to the size of your home.
In other words, when it comes to your cooling system, size does matter, and bigger isn’t always better! An improperly sized air conditioner will cause system inefficiency, wasted energy, and wasted money. A professional HVAC technician will help you determine exactly what you need.
But what do we mean bigger isn’t better? Well, while a system that’s too small isn’t powerful enough to cool the space, a system that’s too large is too powerful. As a result, it will go through a process called short-cycling, where it turns on and off rapidly and never completes a full cooling cycle. This wears down on your air conditioner much more than just natural wear and tear over the years. This means you may find yourself replacing the air conditioner years before you should have had to.
Hire a Pro!
We don’t expect you to know how to properly size your air conditioner. That’s what we are here for! We do something called a cooling load calculation, where we look at not only the square footage of your home, but also things like insulation, how many windows and doors are in your home, how high your ceilings are, and more. And size is just the beginning on the list of reasons to hire a pro for your air conditioning installation.
A professional HVAC technician will help you find the most efficient system you can get! There are a variety of factors that go into the overall efficiency of your AC, and only a trained and experienced HVAC tech knows how to take all these factors into consideration.
Plus, only professionals are licensed to work with refrigerant. This is the liquid used to allow the cooling process to actually happen, and contact with it can be hazardous. An amateur installation could lead to refrigerant line damage, which is definitely not something you’d want.
There are a surprisingly good amount of misconceptions out there around the operation and maintenance of HVAC systems. If you want to save as much energy, money, and headache as possible, it’s a good idea to find out if these myths are true or not. Fortunately, that’s what we are here for! We want to debunk some of the leading myths about air conditioning that could leave you paying more than you should be each month for the operation of your cooling system.
Myth #1: Refrigerant Has to Be “Topped Off” Regularly
Upon installation, your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant to ideally last its entire lifespan. That refrigerant goes through a continuous cycle and never runs out. That is, unless you have a leak. If you have a leak, then yes, your refrigerant will need to be refilled (what we in the HVAC industry call “recharged”).
But, the next step is actually repairing the refrigerant line where the leak occurred so it never happens again. If an amateur handyman or ‘professional’ tries to convince you that you need to fill up your refrigerant every maintenance appointment, and they plan to charge you extra for it, please know this is not correct.
Myth #2: Turning the Thermostat Down Lower Will Cool My Home Faster
Well, no. It will cause your air conditioner to run longer, in order to meet that lower temperature, but it won’t cool your home down any faster. “Why does this matter,” you may be wondering. Well, because you’re causing your air conditioner to run longer than it needs to, and therefore work harder than it needs to. Ultimately, this means you’re paying more in energy bills and wearing your cooling system down faster.
Myth #3: You Don’t Really Need to Change Your Air Filter
Have you ever looked at your air filter after a few months? Dust and dirt builds up on it and it makes it very difficult for air to move through the unit. Letting a dirty air filter stay put for too long puts undue stress on the system, not to mention you won’t feel as cool and comfortable as you should when using your air conditioner.
Another part of this myth is you can just have your HVAC technician check the air filter during your maintenance appointment. We will look at your air filter, but given that the most often people typically have maintenance done is every 6 months to a year, we wouldn’t recommend waiting. In fact, we suggest that depending on the type of air filter you have, you change it every 1-3 months.
Myth #4: Turning Your AC Off When You Aren’t Home Wastes Energy
There’s good intent behind this myth. The fact is that your air conditioner uses most of its energy cycling on and off. Therefore, if you come home to a warm house and your air conditioner has been off all day, your home is going to be hot, and it’s going to take longer for your air conditioner to reach the desired temperature on your thermostat.
Ultimately, this will leave you feeling uncomfortable for a bit longer than you would like, but to say it wastes energy is actually a misunderstanding. It does waste energy to turn the thermostat down as low as it will go, as we referred to above, but if you want to turn your air conditioner off during a warm weekend that you’re not going to be home, and you don’t have any houseplants or pets to worry about, then by all means, turn it off.
Temperatures are climbing back up, and if you haven’t already it’s almost time to turn on your air conditioner. Air conditioners are an absolute necessity here in Sugar Land, which is why you should make sure you keep yours in good shape. The middle of summer is the most common time of the year for problems to develop with AC systems, because of the immense strain they’re put under.
But yours can stay in good shape throughout the spring and summer seasons! You can achieve this first by scheduling maintenance, if you haven’t done so already. Next, you should keep an eye out for warning signs that your air conditioner is in bad shape. The faster you can identify that your cooling system is having trouble, the faster you can get it repaired and the better off your home will be. What are these signs?
After a few seasons of using your air conditioner, you should be pretty familiar with the everyday sounds it makes during operation. If your AC system suddenly begins making strange noises, it’s definitely a sign you should call for repairs. Unusual sounds could mean a number of different things, depending on the specific noise.
For instance, hissing or bubbling sounds mean you air bubbles in the refrigerant lines, which likely means you have a refrigerant leak. Grinding noises are a sign that your cooling system’s air handler is experiencing more friction than it should be. This probably means that the bearings in the air handler motor are failing, and need to be replaced. You should have this looked at right away, before the motor overheats and burns out as a result.
These are just a few examples of odd noises you might hear from your air conditioner. Really, anything that sounds off or unfamiliar to you is worth having investigated.
A Drop in Cooling Output
One of the first indications that an air conditioner is experiencing trouble is a drop in output from the system. Just like with strange noises, this problem can manifest in a number of different ways and have a number of different possible causes.
Is your cooling system still blowing air, but that air doesn’t feel cold? It may be due to a refrigerant leak depriving the system of its output capacity. Is the AC system not circulating much air at all? You might have a clogged air filter, or potentially a problem with the air handler. Regardless, low output isn’t a good sign. You should have a professional check your air conditioner thoroughly if you’re experiencing this.
If your cooling system is turning on and off every few minutes rather than going through a few cycles each hour, you’re dealing with what’s called short-cycling. It dramatically increases the amount of wear and tear that the system suffers. Short-cycling also lowers the amount of output the system is capable of generating and also shortens its lifespan. Be sure to have your system inspected if you notice this problem.