Go Back

Air Conditioning 101: A Beginner's Guide to AC Basics

Air Conditioning System Essentials

It is the hottest time of the year, and everyone has air conditioning on their minds. The back-to-school season is also here, and learning about a home’s air conditioning system has never been easier. Basic knowledge of air conditioning systems can be helpful for both a homeowner and any professional they hire to work on it.

An educated homeowner can direct a pro to the problem and save the technician time by answering questions. The general knowledge explained in the following article can help the next time a home needs AC maintenance or repair.

The Two Main Types of Home Cooling

ductless mini-split air conditionerWhole home cooling has relied on a system of ducts to move air from the AC unit throughout the home for many years. This traditional method is called central air conditioning because of the single central unit for regulating temperature. While central air is still the most often used in new home construction, an alternative is becoming increasingly popular.

The ductless air conditioner or mini-split air conditioner is an excellent choice for renovating older homes or homes without space for ducts. Mini-splits use one or more heat pumps that use copper tubing and coolant to remove the heat from home and expel it outside. A ductless system has the advantage of being able to have different temperature zones within the home, increasing flexibility and energy efficiency.

Indicators of Air Conditioning Problems

high energy billsHow can a homeowner know that there are issues with their home air conditioning units? An air conditioning unit will communicate through several signs that it may need repair. Below are a few ways an air conditioner may be saying, “Fix me!”

  • High Energy Bills: If the home’s energy bill has skyrocketed without apparent reason, this may indicate that something is wrong with the AC.
  • Hot Air: If the air coming through the vents from the AC is blowing hot, there may be an issue with the coolant or the thermostat.
  • Not Reaching Proper Temperatures: If the air conditioning is constantly running but doesn’t reach the temperature that the thermostat is set on, there is likely an issue.
  • Strange Noises: If loud banging, whistling, or popping noises come from the unit, something may need to be replaced or repaired.


Regular maintenance is required for any appliance, but especially for those that work daily, like an air conditioning unit. The homeowner can perform some maintenance tasks, such as spraying dirt and debris off the exterior unit with the hose or changing the air filter, which should be done every three months for maximum airflow. There are quite a few tasks that must be done regularly by a professional to ensure the proper function of a house’s AC unit. Here are a few of those:

  • Checking the blower
  • Checking compressor/condenser
  • Checking the drip pan
  • Cleaning air ducts
  • Cleaning coils
  • Cleaning vents
  • Tightening electrical connections
  • Inspecting system for damage

About Elite Comfort Systems

Voted “Best of Brentwood” several years in a row, Elite Comfort Systems is a family-owned and operated company serving Brentwood, CA, and the surrounding areas. They offer 24-hour emergency response and upfront pricing. Call them today for punctual and professional air conditioning service in Brentwood, CA.