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The Ghost in the Machine

AC replacement
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The start of the fall means that everyone is preparing for the holiday season, but normally the gift budget doesn’t include paying for an AC replacement. Though air conditioner units are meant to last 10-15 years, poor maintenance and bad habits can seriously shorten the life of them. Yet if you perform some simple checks and watch out for specific symptoms, you can ensure that your AC lasts for the full 15 years.

An AC is made up of 3 main parts, the compressor, the evaporator coil and the condenser coil. If any of these three is badly maintained the whole system is compromised. The basic idea of an AC unit is to collect heat from the building, concentrate it in an area and then expel it from the building. The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant which then moves through the condenser coil which normally sits in a box outside the building. In the condenser coil, the refrigerant loses heat to the surroundings allowing it to condense, after it has condensed it moves into the evaporator coil where it collects heat from the air brought in from the building, cooling the air which is then recirculated to cool the building. After this the refrigerant returns to the compressor and the cycle restarts.

Beginning at the compressor, if there isn’t enough refrigerant in the loop, the AC will struggle to maintain the correct temperature, meaning higher energy bills and the AC might not even be able to fully cool the air during the day. This can get uncomfortable, but normally isn’t the start of problems.

The condenser coil is a big one to look out for, because it is normally exposed to the elements. Dust on the coil acts as an insulator, preventing the heat exchange from occurring. This means that the refrigerant stays warm and can’t properly cool the air at the evaporator side. Again this means a high electric bill, but it also means increased wear and tear, which could mean a costly AC replacement in the not too distant future.

The last two aspects that need to be regularly checked are the air filter and the drain line. The air filter needs to be changed once a month, if it isn’t regularly changed, dust will build up. This buildup of dust can restrict air flow to the evaporator coil, which then means the evaporator can’t do its job. It can actually make your AC freeze up, this means that your evaporator gets covered in ice. If you notice ice around your coil, you will need to immediately turn off your AC and have it checked by a technician, because the cause could be a variety of reasons other than a dirty air filter and if it’s not checked, you could cause irreparable damage.

Finally, the drain line. The drain line drains your AC of the water which has condensed in it. This process is relatively simple, but if the line gets clogged, you could be looking at water leaking out into your home. In the beginning, it should be quite small, maybe a stain on the ceiling, but if left unchecked, you could be looking at flood and bad damage.

But the good thing is that all of these problems can be easily managed and just requires a call to Art Plumbing, AC & Electric to come in for maintenance.

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