If your air conditioner isn't keeping you cool and it seems to be running most of the day, then it's time to take a look at the problem so you don't waste money on your energy bills. If there's a malfunction or other problem that restricts airflow, your air conditioner might be running more than it should to cool down your house. If there's a problem with the refrigerant, then your AC can run all day and you'll not stay cool. The AC may even ice up and stop working. Here are some signs it's time to have your air conditioner serviced.
The Outside Unit Makes Unusual Noises Or Has Smashed Fins
Your AC has three parts that have to be working properly for your home to get cool. One part is outside, one is inside, and the third is the ducts. The outside unit takes a lot of abuse from the weather and from debris such as dust, leaves, bugs, and falling branches. The debris can get inside the cage and create clogs and restrict airflow. It's also possible that the fins along the side of the AC unit can be smashed. A few might get bent if a tree limb crashes against the unit or you hit it with a lawnmower. If too many fins are bent, then airflow can be reduced. These problems along with parts that wear out due to age and a leak in the refrigerant can cause malfunctions that need repairs so air can circulate properly and chill your house.
The Ducts In Your Attic Have Gaps That Leak
If the unit outside and the air handler inside all check out, then the problem might be in the ducts. If a duct seam comes loose or is damaged by a rat or raccoon, chilled air will leak into the attic and the airflow into your home will be reduced. This problem might be repairable with duct tape, and repairs should be done as soon as possible so the leak doesn't drive up your power bill. It's a good idea to have the ducts checked regularly to make sure they haven't started leaking.
The Filter Or Air Handler Is Coated With Dust
The first thing to check when you have trouble with your AC is the filter. If you find it coated with dust, then change it and see if the problem is fixed. It's also possible the inside of the air handler is coated with dust due to the dirty filter. You won't be able to see some of these parts, but clues there might be a problem with the air handler include ice on your AC, unusual noises when the fan kicks on, dampness around the unit, mildew odor, and a sudden increase in your power bill.
If you have your AC cleaned before summer, then you can eliminate problems that arise from a dirty unit. However, it's always possible that parts will wear out or the unit will be damaged in some other way. Therefore, when your AC sounds or runs differently than usual, it's best to schedule an air conditioning service call to find out why.