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Common Summer HVAC Problems and How to Fix Them

As summer temperatures soar, your HVAC system becomes your home’s best ally, working tirelessly to keep you cool and comfortable. However, with increased use, HVAC systems are prone to encountering a range of issues during the summer months. Understanding these common problems and knowing how to address them can save you from uncomfortable indoor temperatures and costly repairs. Here’s a guide to the most frequent summer HVAC problems and practical tips on how to fix them.

1. Refrigerant Leaks

Problem:

Refrigerant is crucial for your air conditioner to cool the air. A leak in the refrigerant lines can reduce cooling efficiency, leading to a warm home and increased energy bills. You might notice the unit running constantly but failing to cool the space effectively.

Fix:

  • Identify the Leak: Look for hissing sounds or ice on the refrigerant lines, which are signs of a leak.
  • Seal and Recharge: A professional technician can locate and seal the leak and then recharge the refrigerant to the correct level.
  • Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular maintenance to catch potential leaks early and ensure the system is operating efficiently.

2. Dirty Air Filters

Problem:

Air filters trap dust, pollen, and other particles to keep your indoor air clean. Over time, these filters can become clogged, restricting airflow and making your AC work harder, which can cause it to overheat and malfunction.

Fix:

  • Check Filters Monthly: Inspect your air filters at least once a month during peak usage periods.
  • Replace as Needed: Replace disposable filters or clean reusable ones as recommended by the manufacturer, typically every 1-3 months.
  • Upgrade Filters: Consider using high-efficiency filters that capture more particles and improve air quality.

3. Thermostat Issues

Problem:

A malfunctioning thermostat can cause your AC to run inefficiently or not at all. You might notice the system short-cycling (turning on and off frequently) or not reaching the desired temperature.

Fix:

  • Check Settings: Ensure the thermostat is set to “cool” mode and at the appropriate temperature.
  • Replace Batteries: If your thermostat uses batteries, replace them regularly.
  • Recalibrate or Upgrade: If issues persist, recalibrate the thermostat or upgrade to a programmable or smart thermostat for better control and efficiency.

4. Blocked Condensate Drain

Problem:

Your AC removes humidity from the air, which is drained outside. Over time, algae, mold, and debris can clog the condensate drain line, causing water to back up into your system and potentially leading to water damage or mold growth.

Fix:

  • Clear the Drain Line: Use a wet/dry vacuum or a plumber’s snake to remove blockages from the drain line.
  • Install a Safety Switch: Consider installing a float switch that will shut off the AC if the water level gets too high.
  • Regular Cleaning: Periodically pour a mixture of vinegar and water down the drain line to prevent clogs. 

5. Frozen Evaporator Coils

Problem:

The evaporator coils inside your AC unit absorb heat from the air. If the coils get too cold, they can freeze, restricting airflow and causing the system to malfunction. Frozen coils can result from low refrigerant levels, poor airflow, or a dirty filter.

Fix:

  • Turn Off the AC: Shut off the system and let the coils thaw completely.
  • Check Airflow: Ensure that filters are clean and that vents and ducts are not blocked.
  • Inspect Refrigerant Levels: Have a professional check and top off refrigerant levels if needed. 

6. Compressor Failure

Problem:

The compressor is the heart of your AC system, circulating refrigerant to cool the air. Over time, it can wear out, especially if the system is under stress from other issues like refrigerant leaks or electrical problems. A failing compressor may cause the unit to struggle to cool effectively or stop working altogether.

Fix:

  • Professional Repair: Compressor issues are complex and typically require a professional technician to diagnose and repair.
  • Regular Maintenance: Preventative maintenance can help catch issues early and extend the life of your compressor.

7. Electrical Problems

Problem:

Summer storms and power surges can cause electrical issues in your HVAC system, including blown fuses, tripped breakers, or damaged wiring. These problems can prevent your AC from turning on or functioning properly.

Fix:

  • Check Breakers: Ensure that circuit breakers and fuses are intact and replace or reset them if necessary.
  • Inspect Wiring: Look for any visible signs of damage or wear on wiring and connections.
  • Professional Inspection: Have an HVAC technician inspect and repair any electrical components. 

8. Inadequate Maintenance

Problem:

Neglecting regular HVAC maintenance can lead to a host of issues, from reduced efficiency to complete system breakdowns. Components can wear out, refrigerant levels can drop, and filters can become clogged without routine care.

Fix:

  • Schedule Tune-Ups: Schedule professional HVAC tune-ups at least once a year, preferably before the summer season begins.
  • Follow a Maintenance Plan: Create a maintenance plan that includes regular filter changes, coil cleaning, and system inspections.
  • Stay Proactive: Address minor issues promptly before they escalate into major repairs. 

Stay Cool All Summer Long

Maintaining your HVAC system and addressing issues promptly is key to enjoying a cool, comfortable home throughout the summer. By understanding these common problems and implementing the suggested fixes, you can ensure that your system runs efficiently, keeping you cool while saving on energy costs. Don’t hesitate to call ComfortPro for professional HVAC service from a licensed technician for any complex issues. Sign up now for one of our Professional Service Agreements, and we’ll help you keep your system in top shape to avoid costly breakdowns.