There are a number of HVAC maintenance issues that can crop up when operating your air conditioning system. Two of the most common problems that Cincinnati homeowners face during the sweltering weather conditions of summertime are water leaks and AC units freezing over.
Of the two, water leakage is a more minor and less frequent problem. When it does occur it is also less usually less costly to take care of.
AC units do not typically leak water, in part because most are designed to recycle some of the water they produce during operation, using the water they take out of the air to help keep the air conditioning unit cool. In all AC units, the air is dehumidified as it's processed through the system and the water extracted is collected in the base of the air conditioner. In window AC units this water drips out of the back, and in central air conditioning systems it is channeled via pipes or a hose into an exterior runoff.
If the built-in drains in the air conditioner become blocked, it can cause a water leakage problem. Also, if the unit is improperly installed water can leak out through the wrong places instead of the appropriate drain holes. Window AC units should be installed with the front of the unit at least one inch higher than the rear. Central air conditioning compressors should be installed so that they are level.
A much bigger challenge in HVAC maintenance is that of air conditioners freezing over. Ice forming on AC units quickly impairs their ability to function properly. There are a number of reasons why your air conditioner might freeze. One would be if your air conditioning is running when the outside temperature drops. Make sure your AC is turned off when it gets cool outside.
Another reason it could ice up, and the easiest to take care of, is due to a dirty air filter. If you see ice forming on your air conditioner, or on any of the pipes that lead from the compressor into the house, check your HVAC unit's air filter and, if it's dirty, change it immediately. From then on, make sure to replace it monthly.
Another easy fix for a freeze up is to check the vents in your home and make sure none are blocked. If air flow is reduced too much to the evaporator coil in an air conditioner, it can cause freezing. The evaporator coil also needs to be kept clean – make sure regular cleaning is part of your annual HVAC maintenance, performed by a licensed heating and cooling contractor.
The biggest cause for ice forming on AC units is a lack of refrigerant, usually due to a leak somewhere in the air conditioning system. You will want to call a licensed HVAC contractor if this is the case, not only to refill your refrigerant levels, but also to run a test to find and repair the leak. Only a certified air conditioning technician is qualified to test and replace refrigerant.
As with so many aspects of heating and cooling maintenance, regular inspection and testing will help you avoid a host of problems, including water leaks and freezing over. Your air conditioning until will also last longer if you keep up the preventative maintenance.
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