Every Homeowner Should Learn These Air Conditioner Basics!
It’s nearly time for the kids to gather their supplies and go back to school. But just because summer vacation is coming to an end, that doesn’t mean summer heat is going anywhere anytime soon. In Brentwood and much of California, homeowners will still be blasting their air conditioners to beat the heat by the time fall rolls around!
Of course, the more the AC runs and the harder it has to work, the greater the chance it will develop issues. So while class is back in session for the kids, the adults could benefit from learning more about their air conditioning systems. Understanding the basics of how an AC works and what it needs to perform properly will allow homeowners to spot problems earlier and help prevent them. So read on for a brief lesson on air conditioning fundamentals!
The Two Main Types of Air Conditioners
Air conditioners come in several forms, but the two main types are central and ductless. They have some key differences, but they ultimately operate in much the same way. Each involves an indoor air handler unit, an outdoor condenser unit, and a compressor. A fan in the air handler pulls warm air from the house and blows it over an array of evaporator coils, which absorb the air’s heat. A chemical refrigerant inside the coils is then pumped to the outdoor unit, where the condenser coils radiate that heat energy into the outdoors with the help of a fan. The compressor circulates the refrigerant between the two units, compressing it from gas into liquid as it does so.
A central air conditioning system delivers cool air throughout the home via a series of air ducts. A ductless air conditioner, such as a ductless mini-split air conditioner, doesn’t require ductwork and instead features multiple smaller indoor units, typically installed in various rooms of the house. Ductless systems offer greater zone control because of the multiple indoor units and greater energy efficiency but often come with a higher up-front cost due to the number of units installed. However, in homes without existing ductwork, a ductless system is much less invasive in terms of air conditioning installation.
How to Tell an AC Needs Repair
Understanding how an air conditioner works is one thing, but it’s even more helpful to be able to spot signs of trouble as early as possible to prevent further damage to the system. The most obvious signs that an AC needs repairs are if the house isn’t getting cool enough (even if the AC runs constantly), weak or no airflow, warm air coming from the vents, or the unit simply doesn’t turn on.
Some other signs of trouble include higher energy bills, short cycling (when the system frequently turns on and off), unpleasant odors from the vents, and strange sounds like banging, grinding, rattling, or screeching. Various issues can cause these symptoms, some serious and some relatively minor. In most cases, they can be repaired, but in some cases - particularly if the unit is getting older - they may mean it’s time for air conditioning replacement. That’s why homeowners must call a pro to diagnose the issue as soon as they notice these signs!
Why Regular Maintenance Is So Important
While air conditioner problems of some kind are typically inevitable (on a long enough timeline, anyway), homeowners can take steps to minimize those problems. That starts with replacing the air filters regularly. For most homes, that will be about every three months. But for those with multiple furry friends in the house or anyone with allergies or respiratory sensitivities, every 1-2 months might be optimal. Dirty filters not only hinder airflow and make the unit work harder, but they also contribute to poor indoor air quality – so the benefits of regular filer changes can’t be overstated.
But it’s equally important to have the AC system serviced by a professional every year (preferably in the early spring before the AC starts seeing frequent use). AC maintenance technicians can perform in-depth maintenance tasks designed to mitigate wear and tear, improve energy efficiency, and extend the unit's lifespan. This includes lubricating or replacing fan belts and bearings, testing electrical components and connections, cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils, checking refrigerant levels and recharging refrigerant lines if necessary, and a list of other tasks. So armed with this basic knowledge, homeowners can help keep their AC systems going strong for many years to come.
About Elite Comfort Systems
Elite Comfort Systems is a family-owned and operated company serving Brentwood and the surrounding areas since 2008. They offer transparent pricing, easy scheduling, and 24/7 emergency service. Call them today for air conditioning services in Brentwood, CA.