You don't need to be a specialist to know that something is wrong when your home's interior temperature starts making the sun's surface seem appealing. Unfortunately, many air conditioning problems don't start quite so dramatically. If your system suddenly fails or begins blowing warm air, there's a reasonable chance you've missed a few warning signs along the way.
Recognizing that there's a problem with your AC is about more than just anticipating trouble, however. Many HVAC starts relatively small but put extra stress on your whole system. As the problem worsens, you can potentially damage other components and create more significant issues. This guide will help you recognize, prevent, and address small AC issues before they become big problems.
How Should Your Home's AC Function?
The most critical thing you can do to recognize trouble spots with your AC is to understand how your system should behave. When it's operating normally, your air conditioner shouldn't run continually. Instead, it runs in cycles to reach your target thermostat set point. Once it hits the target, the system will turn off until the temperature increases.
These cycles are critical to keeping your system running efficiently and reliably. The time between cycles minimizes wear on the compressor, keeps temperatures down at your evaporator, and allows moisture to drain from the coils. Cycle length is also crucial for dehumidification. Anything that causes your system to run for too long or not long enough will disrupt this behavior.
Likewise, you shouldn't have ice-cold air coming from your vents. Your system's design removes heat from the air, but the temperature at the evaporator needs to remain above freezing. If you measure the temperature at your AC supply vents, it should be about 20 degrees cooler than the temperature at your return vents. Significantly warmer or colder than this may indicate an issue.
How Can You Tell If Something Is Wrong?
Now that you know how your system should behave, it should be relatively easy to spot trouble. Be aware of excessively long or short cycles, changes in supply vent temperature, and unusually humid air. Even if your air conditioner is still running well enough to hit your thermostat setpoint, these symptoms typically indicate that something may be wrong.
Routine annual service visits are another excellent preventative step to catch problems before they damage critical system components. In addition to covering your system's maintenance needs during these visits, your technician will also check for proper system operation. Having a skilled technician observe your system and measure temperatures is an excellent way to locate problems.
Reach out to an HVAC service for help identifying what your system needs.