Air Conditioner Problems - Troubleshooting Common Air Conditioner Problems At Home And In The Car

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June 28, 2011
Air Conditioner Problems

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Troubleshooting Air Conditioner Problems

Now that summer is here, many people would also be saying “Hello” to their air conditioners that are installed at home, at the workplace or in vehicles. Well, you should have said your greetings to this cool gadget, whether auto, home, window, central, or portable, days or weeks before the temperature started its climb to check for and nip possible air conditioner problems in the bud and ensure your comfort even before the weather begins to sizzle. If you have not done so yet and you have encountered some glitches, don’t sweat it. Continue reading to find useful troubleshooting tips.

No Sweat Common Air Conditioner Problems

Almost all air conditioner problems can leave your temper seething, and your first reaction may be to pick up the phone and call a technician. You must realize that there are simple problems that you can easily handle yourself to help you save the money.

So here are some common air conditioner problems that you can handle, no sweat!

Wailing noise. This can really be irritating so better resolve it before it gets louder causing you to lose your cool. Check for a dislodged fan belt and put it back its proper place. Also find out if the bearings of the motor need to be lubricated or replaced.

Leaking water inside the house. This may be due to your unit failing to drain away condensation, probably because of a rusty condensation pan. Start your inspection here then down to the drain itself to check and clear clogs so that water can trickle down where it should trickle down.

Blocked grills. This can cause your unit not to work. To address this, disassemble the unit so that you can carefully wipe down the parts, such as the fan, fins and motor, to enable it to function more efficiently. Make sure that it is disconnected from power and that the moving electrical parts remain dry. Be cautious in taking off the top grill because it may be wired to the fan. After cleaning, put everything back together and test it. Check thermostat settings to make sure they are below the current ambient temperature.

Solutions To Home Air Conditioner Problems Related To Energy Consumption

We can go on and babble about leaking units, busted fuses, malfunctioning condensers, but the there is one problem that does not receive much attention - the substantial energy consumption of A/C’s. Air conditioners are among the top home appliances that are significant contributors to the high energy bill you are paying. So to help you mitigate this problem, consider these tips:

1. Dirty filters can increase your energy consumption because they cause the conditioning systems to work harder to be able to pull out air through the unclean filters. Save five percent of your energy spending by cleaning a dirty filter. This will also minimize CO2 production by 175 pounds.

2. Over-cooling the room can also rob you of your energy savings. Set your thermostat at 75 degrees in the summer. This is deemed the optimal temperature level just enough to enjoy the cool that you need to combat the scorching summer heat and at the same time curtail your energy bill.

3. Positioning the unit in a spot where it gets exposed to direct sunlight can also pose energy bill problems. Reports have shown that energy consumption is five percent less with air conditioners that are stationed in shaded places when compared to those getting direct exposure.

4. Insufficient insulation of ducts for central air conditioning units can also increase energy consumption. So to lower your electricity bill, see to it that the ducts are properly insulated.

Window Air Conditioner Problems? Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

A window air conditioner, also known as a room air conditioner, is the “Mini Me” of a complete house cooling system. It contains the same components as that of an entire cooling system but in smaller sizes. These include interior components, such as the blower, evaporator coil, thermostat, plastic face panel, and filter; and other parts that are positioned outside the window, such as the condenser and compressor. Extending from the interior component evaporator coil to the exterior condensate drain tube is the moisture condensate. It serves to empty out water. All these are tidily enclosed in a metal casing which is partially positioned in and out of a window of a room.

As with an entire home air conditioning system, you may also encounter window air conditioner problems. However, do not let this get you into such a sweat as some of these can be resolved yourself.

Consider these tips:

1. If you see your unit leaking with water from the front panel, it may be because the pan is inclined down toward the room, instead of towards outside. As a result, water coming from the evaporator coil trickles down through the drain tube into your room, rather than outwards onto the rear or the unit. To solve this snag, simply adjust the slope of the unit to the appropriate position to allow water condensate to drain outside.

2. If your window air conditioner does not come to life after you have switched it on, check your power plug connection. It may just be loosely plugged and can easily be solved by using properly-positioned power plug connection. It is also possible that the circuit breaker or fuse has blown, so what you can do is to reset the breaker, or replace the defective fuse.

3. If your unit fluctuates to on and off too often, the problem may be with the thermostat or the temperature sensor. To troubleshoot this hiccup, adjust the wire with care to ensure that the thermostat sensor is correctly sitting close by the evaporator coil. Also find out if the thermostat or a portion of the front panel is not blocked with drapes. If the problem amplifies, have it checked by a technician for possible refrigerant leak. Also make sure that the condenser is not clogged with leaves and that its fins are not seriously mutilated or contorted. Fix twisted fins using a fin comb.

5 Hot Tips To Prevent or Curtail Central Air Conditioner Problems

1. Replace the filter. Clean filters not only nip problems in the bud and ensure a properly functioning central air conditioning system, but also allow you to save on your energy spending. A few AC makers even advise replacement every month or every two months, hinging on the frequency of use.

2. Allow the condenser some rest. Just as you take the time to unwind in the summer, your air conditioner also needs some time off. Overusing it will not just push your energy bill up, it could also lead to malfunction. Turn it off when the weather is cool, such as during the early morning hours, and when nobody is at home. Set the thermostat at 65 degrees or higher if you are using it.

3. Clean the vents. Periodically check the vents for any obstruction. Wipe away dust and dirt to allow air to sufficiently and efficiently flow.

4. Clear the outdoor unit. The HVAC motor is housed in the large box that is sitting outside your house. Make sure that its surroundings are free from clutter to allow about one to two feet of free space surrounding the vents. Never put anything atop the unit, especially when it is running. It would be a good idea to cover it during the summer when it is not in use to shield it from moisture that can lead to rusting and corrosion.

5. If you sense that something is wrong, turn it off. Try some of the troubleshooting techniques you may know, but if those do not work, do not push the system to struggle on to avoid further damage. Instead, just shut it off and have it checked and resolved by a qualified technician.

Air Conditioner Compressor Problems Can Compress Your Wallet

When you sense some problem with your air conditioning unit, pray that it does not concern your compressor since repairing (or worse, replacing) it can cost you an arm and a leg. One of the most common compressor problems is losing its capacity to cool. A service technician can diagnose this by connecting certain test gauges to the system. If he detects discharge pressure that is lower than normal and suction vacuum higher than normal, this will confirm the issue. A competent technician though will not do this test right away to minimize cost and to be methodical, except if he sees palpable signs that there is something wrong with the compressor, such as hard starting, does not start at all, and noise). He would follow certain standard procedures in examining the system, beginning from the least-expensive, like checking for electrical power, right setting and operation of system controls, function of blowers, condition of filters and duct work, and the like, to the problems that would cost more, such as those concerning the compressor. He examines the compressor by checking the pressures, air conditioner operating temperatures and current draw in Amps.

Car Air Conditioner Problems That Make Your Ride Uncool

Just like your home air conditioner, the air conditioning system in your automobile may also go kaput, making your ride sticky and uncomfortable especially when driving in the summer heat. Brace yourself from this vexation by getting familiar with some these common car air conditioner problems.

Low or Zero Level of of Refrigerant or Lubricant. A large number of car air conditioner problems are a result of the insufficient or zero levels of refrigerant. Certain auto air conditioning systems even disable the compressor from turning on if refrigerant levels are low, hence, cannot flick the low pressure safety switch. The refrigerant, and its oil components, is not just responsible for giving out the cooling effect, it also ensures the proper lubrication of the seals and certain moving parts of the compressor. This is the reason why the system must regularly be turned on, even during the cold months. To keep the compressor from drying up, make sure that the mineral oil is topped up when the system is undergoing maintenance.

Fluctuations in Air Temperature. There can be many causes for an air conditioning system that blows cool, and then hot air, such as a defective AC on/off switch, a lousy temperature sensor, a malfunctioning clutch or clutch relay, a broken low-pressure cutout switch, a blown fuse or faulty wiring, or an inoperative controller module. Another reason would be a frozen tube or evaporator, hence clogging the circulation of the refrigerant. This usually results from the presence of air or moisture in the system. You can diagnose this with the use of an air-con vacuum pump to see to it that the system has no more than two percent air by weight. This certain level is required for optimal function. Some owners of the Dodge Durango have experienced this hot and cold air problem.

Dripping Air-Conditioner. Another prevalent problem with the AC system of vehicles is leak, which is caused by the declining level of pressure shortly after charging the system with refrigerant. Wet marks around seals and service ports are the symptoms to watch out for. If you drive vehicles with R-12 systems that contain more oil in the system, you can easily detect this. But it may be challenging to diagnose this problem using this technique if you have the later systems, particularly the R-134a, and may require a special equipment, such as an electronic freon sniffer and UV light to pinpoint leaks. Certain vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee have this issue.

Honda Car Owners Steaming Over Honda Air Conditioner Problems

The various car models of Honda is not exempt from car air conditioner problems. For instance, a common complaint for Honda Accord owners is that their air conditioning system just stopped working. This could be due to a missing clutch relay or some burnt wires or a hole in the tube. Some Honda Odyssey owners also complain that their air conditioning fans, which work only at high setting, blow hot air only. This can be resolved by checking the control panel; the transistor panel may just need to be replaced. You can also refer to the above-mentioned tip on temperature fluctuations. Honda CRV is this manufacturer’s car model receiving one of the highest complaints about its air conditioning system. This is briefly discussed below.

The Blackest Snag Among Honda CRV Air Conditioner Problems

The air conditioning systems of some Honda CRVs die a slow, black death. The epithet refers to the black sludge and metal fillings that contaminate the system leading to the breakdown of the compressor. This black debris is pumped through the system as the compressor goes on the fritz, entailing substantial and more expensive repairs, which would cost about $3,000. The sad part is it is no longer covered under warranty as this drag often occurs in cars with 50,000 to 80,000 miles. This problem is common among 2002 to 2004 Honda CRV’s. Despite the number of complaints though, this cannot prompt a recall since it does not involve safety issues.

Air conditioner problems can be so vexing, but instead of loosing your cool, try to have a basic understanding of how air conditioners work and learn how to diagnose and solve simple snags.

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