When the temperature rises, it is good to know that your air conditioner is available to provide relief. However, like other mechanical devices, air conditioning needs a system in which all parts can do their job properly. If neglected, elements of your air conditioner can become blocked, which will have a negative impact on performance. Signs that your air conditioner is blocked include little air being produced or warm air coming out of the unit. If really backed up, your air conditioner will not work at all.
It is a good idea to check various parts of your air conditioner to see that nothing is being blocked so that your air conditioner won’t pack it in on the hottest day of summer! Dirt and pollution are the enemies of the air conditioner, and over time it is inevitable that these will accumulate to the detriment of your unit.
Air conditioners have filters, and if these are clogged, the air will not flow freely through your unit to provide the cooling breeze that you desire. Signs that this is happening include dirt (and even mould) in the duct system and grime on the fan blades. Fans can also be blocked by dirt, which will impair performance and can lead to the air conditioner breaking down.
There could also be an unpleasant smell coming out of the unit, especially if the clogged material is becoming mouldy. This is a health hazard, so needs to be addressed. It is a good idea to clean the fan blades and to keep the duct system free of dirt. While cleaning, any holes or damage to the ducts should also be repaired and dirty air filters should be replaced with fresh ones.
Air filters are found near the return duct air inlets or near the air handler unit. They help protect the air conditioner from dust and pollution while the unit is working, and thus improve air quality.
However, they cannot do their job if they are already full of grime. Dirty filters also use more energy and so cost you more money.
Another problem to watch out for is the evaporator coils freezing. This can be made worse by dirty air filters, which stop air circulating freely. The evaporator coils contain refrigerant, which absorbs heat from the atmosphere, but if they get too cold from a lack of hot air they can freeze and the production of cool air will be blocked.
It could also be worth looking at the outside components of your air conditioner. Condenser coils take the heat absorbed from the air inside and discharge it outside. But the coils don’t work very effectively if they are blocked with dirt, leaves or debris.
Leaking water is another sign that your air conditioner is not functioning well and that the drainage system may be blocked. This can cause damage to walls and furnishings, and can also be a source of mould. Moisture in the air is collected and should drain into a pan and eventually down a drain. If any element is blocked or if the pan is full, then water will back up and overflow.
The good news is that regular maintenance can easily prevent most air conditioner problems.