1. Dirty or Clogged Filter
The air filter in your HVAC system traps dirt, dust, and debris, preventing them from getting into your living space. It cleans your indoor air and contributes to a healthier home. If you fail to replace your filter regularly, it can accumulate so much dirt and dust that it becomes clogged. This can weaken airflow and put extra strain on your air conditioner, resulting in a less comfortable home, higher energy consumption, and poorer indoor air quality.
As a general rule of thumb, you should replace your air filter at least once every three months. However, you may have to change it more often if you use your HVAC unit frequently, have pets in your home, or have a family member who is suffering from asthma or allergies. There’s no strict guideline for changing filters, but it’s recommended that you check your filter once every few weeks. If you see a thick layer of dirt that obscures the filter material, it’s time to get a new one. Replacing the air filter is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your HVAC unit in good working condition.
2. Thermostat Malfunction
The thermostat is essentially the brain of your HVAC system. It delivers instructions to different components in your equipment to raise or lower the temperature or turn on or off the system. Any time your air conditioner isn’t producing your desired temperature, it can mean that you have a bad thermostat. A thermostat may fail to keep your home comfortable because of a number of reasons, including accidental changes to the temperature settings, dead batteries, or a mechanical problem.
Check your thermostat to make sure it’s showing the right temperature setting. Someone may have bumped into or tampered with your thermostat and accidentally changed its temperature setting. This problem can be easily solved by setting it back to your desired temperature. If you find that the batteries are low or dead, you can replace them to get your thermostat working again. If your thermostat isn’t malfunctioning because of any of these reasons, try resetting it completely and then call an HVAC professional if that still doesn’t do the trick.
3. Pilot or Ignition Issues
If your furnace is unable to start properly, it can be because of a minor problem such as a dirty flame sensor, pilot, or burner. When these components are dirty, they can lead to a furnace lockout, pilot outage, delayed ignition, or short cycling. An Ignition issue may also result from a gas supply problem or a faulty ignition component that needs to be replaced, such as the thermocouple or hot surface ignitor.
Regardless of the reason why your furnace is failing to ignite, it’s best to hire a trained technician to identify and fix the problem. Fixing an ignition issue is a task that involves exposure to dangerous elements such as high voltage and natural gas, so you shouldn’t try to do it yourself.
4. Unusual Sounds
Your HVAC system makes certain sounds when it’s running, which is nothing to worry about. Nevertheless, it may sometimes emit sounds that are distinctly different from its operational sounds. These unusual sounds may indicate that a certain component isn’t in good condition and needs maintenance, repair, or replacement. Some examples of these noises include:
- High-pitched screeching sounds: Screeching sounds usually mean that a motor in your system is having a bearing problem or a worn or damaged belt. This problem can be fixed by lubricating the bearings or replacing the bad belt, which are both inexpensive tasks.
- Loud rattling or banging sounds: These noises indicate that there may be something wrong with the blower motor. Rattling sounds suggest that a component in the motor is coming loose, and you should have the problem fixed before the part is completely disconnected. If you hear banging noises, it may mean that something in the motor is already disconnected or broken. When this happens, you should shut your system off and contact an HVAC company immediately.
- “Thwapping” sounds: “Thwapping” sounds are similar to the sounds a playing card makes when it’s hitting the spokes of a bicycle wheel. If your HVAC unit is emitting these sounds, it may be because an object or debris is caught in the blower’s fan blades or something in the housing is in contact with the fan while it’s spinning. These noises may not be critical, but the debris or object may create resistance and cause the blower motor to wear out at a faster rate.
- Unusual sounds from the outdoor condenser: If your outdoor condenser unit is making rattling sounds, it’s an indication that it may have a loose component or a faulty motor. Humming sounds suggest that the motor may be failing or the capacitor needs to be replaced.
If you hear your HVAC system making unusual noises, you should have it checked by a professional. A qualified technician can help you identify the exact cause of the sounds and fix the issue before it develops into a major problem. As much as possible, avoid trying to repair any HVAC problem yourself, because even the slightest mistake can cause significant damage to your equipment. If the sound appears inconsistently, use your phone to video record the noise its making and the approximate area it’s coming from. This will help the technician make a correct diagnosis the first time, without having to wait for the sound to appear.
5. Dirty Evaporator and Condenser Coils
The evaporator and condenser coils in your HVAC system work together to produce a continuous supply of cool air. Over time, dirt and grime can build up on these coils and cause them to become less effective. This can result in an uncomfortable home and higher energy consumption as your unit has to work harder and longer to deliver the desired amount of cooling. If your air conditioner is blowing warm air, it may be a sign that your evaporator and condenser coils need to be cleaned.
Cleaning the evaporator and condenser coils is a task that should be handled by an HVAC technician These coils are located in hard-to-reach places, and they have to be carefully cleaned in order to prevent damage to their delicate fins. A skilled and experienced technician knows how to use the right methods to thoroughly clean your evaporator and condenser coils without causing any damage.
6. Refrigerant Leaks
The refrigerant in your HVAC unit travels in a closed loop between the evaporator and condenser. It absorbs heat and facilitates the production of cool air. Your air-conditioner can only deliver peak performance and efficiency if its refrigerant charge is exactly the same as the manufacturer’s specification. If your system is low on refrigerant, it’s either because it was undercharged during installation or it leaks. Refrigerant leaks not only affect the comfort level in your home; they’re also detrimental to the environment.
If your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant, simply topping up the refrigerant won’t solve the problem. Repairing refrigerant leaks should be done by a trained technician because refrigerant is a hazardous substance that must be handled with extreme caution. The technician can locate and fix the leaks, charge your system with the right amount of refrigerant, and dispose of the leaked refrigerant in a safe manner.
7. Tripped Breakers and Blown Fuses
One of the most common causes of tripped breakers and blown fuses is an overworked blower motor. The blower motor will experience more strain if something is blocking airflow in your HVAC system, such as a clogged filter. When it’s working extra hard, the blower will consume more energy and may trip the circuit breaker or blow a fuse. There are several other factors that can cause your blower motor to overwork, including closed or blocked vents, leaky ducts, and dirty evaporator or condenser coils.
If your HVAC unit is tripping the circuit breaker or blowing a fuse, the first thing you should do is check the vents. Make sure they aren’t closed or blocked by any furniture, rugs, curtains, or other objects. If they aren’t blocked or closed, take a look at the air filter. Replace the filter if it’s clogged and reset the circuit breaker. If the issue occurs again, you should work with an HVAC company to solve the problem.
8. Blower Running Continuously
There are several factors that can cause your blower motor to run continuously. One common reason for this problem is because the fan setting in the thermometer is in the “on” position. Many homeowners accidentally set the fan to “on” instead of “auto,” which causes the blower to operate nonstop. Also, there’s a fan relay in your HVAC unit that turns on the blower motor when there’s a need for cooling or heating. As long as the relay is switched on, the blower won’t stop running. If your air-conditioner is overheating, its circuit board will automatically activate a limit or safety switch to shut down the system. This allows your equipment to cool down so that it won’t be damaged. If the limit or safety is faulty and fails to reset, your blower will run continuously.
If you notice that your blower motor is running nonstop, you should check your thermostat first. If the fan setting is in the “on” position, switch it to “auto” to make your blower operate only when cooling or heating is needed. A malfunctioning safety switch is likely the culprit if your blower won’t shut down when the fan is set to “auto.” Another thing you can do is remove the thermostat from the wall. If the fan stops blowing, then it’s a faulty thermostat. In this case, you should seek the assistance of a professional.
9. Water Leaks
Your HVAC system produces condensation and uses drain lines to ensure proper water drainage. If the drain lines are clogged or damaged, it can leak water. There are several other possible leak sources, including the evaporator drain pan, heat exchanger, and the collector box. If left unattended, water leaks can cause damage to your air-conditioner and property, promoting mold, mildew, and other harmful biological growth that can be detrimental to your health.
You can prevent clogged drain lines to a certain extent by pouring bleach into them every now and then. However, if your drain lines or other parts of your system are already leaky, you should hire a technician to fix them.
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