Top 10 Ways to Avoid a Major Air Conditioning Repair

Avoiding a large and costly air conditioning repair is easier than you might think. Good habits and some simple tasks can reduce wear on expensive parts. They can also avoid breaking out in a sweat indoors during the warmest days of the year. Aside from maintaining your comfort, the following steps can prevent costly AC breakdowns, emergency calls, and early system replacement:

1. Hire a Qualified Professional for AC Installation

Avoiding future repairs starts before you turn your AC on for the first time. A licensed contractor matches the right air conditioner with your home, considering factors such as unit type, efficiency rating, and size. An AC’s size refers to its capacity. If the unit is too large for a space, it will cycle on and off too frequently, while too small a unit will run too long. Either way, you’ll see poor cooling performance, higher energy bills, and possibly increased repair costs.

Hiring a professional also ensures the system is properly installed and connected. The refrigerant, drain, and electrical connections must be secure for it to run smoothly, efficiently, and safely. The upfront cost is worth it considering what you may pay in air conditioning repairs otherwise, especially since most warranties won’t cover a system unless a licensed contractor installs it.

2. Change the AC Filter as Recommended

Most HVAC professionals recommend changing the air filter at least every three months. However, depending on the filter, how dusty your home is, and if you have pets, it may need to be changed as often as every 30 days. Following these guidelines can avoid major repairs. The filter protects your AC system from dirt and debris that can damage sensitive components. 

A clogged filter also blocks airflow. Your AC system will then work harder and less efficiently, which can make your home uncomfortable and lead to expensive repairs. Changing the filter takes just a few minutes. Therefore, save time and money by following the manufacturer’s recommendations. This can extend the life of your air conditioner significantly.

3. Lessen the Demand on Your Air Conditioner

The more you use your AC, the greater the rate of wear and tear. However, you can reduce the demand on the system in a few simple ways. You can possibly avoid a major air conditioning repair by taking these steps:

  • Turn up the thermostat a couple of degrees, but still at a comfortable temperature.
  • Install a programmable thermostat so you can schedule when your AC turns on and off.
  • Use a ceiling fan to make it feel a few degrees cooler.
  • Turn the air conditioner off when you’re not at home.
  • Close blinds and curtains to keep out heat from sunlight.

4. Open All Vents and Keep Them Clear

If you’re not using a room, closing an AC vent won’t reduce energy consumption. Keep all the vents open to avoid efficiency and air pressure issues that can strain the system. Also, move furniture, storage units, blinds, drapes, or other items that block any vents. Just by keeping all the vents open and clear, you can avoid the surprise expense of a major air conditioning repair.

5. Keep an Eye on the Thermostat

Although it’s relatively small, the thermostat is among the most important parts of your HVAC system. It is the control center for your AC, heating unit, and system fans. Therefore, a thermostat problem can cause the system to run when not necessary, not turn on when you need it, or turn on and off too frequently. 

Any changes in system performance can point to a malfunctioning thermostat. Check the unit’s accuracy; the temperature reading should match the set temperature when the system is running. Mechanical problems and wiring damage can affect temperature/humidity control and increase the risk of shocks, fires, and other hazards. Call for help as soon as you notice any changes in how your thermostat is working.

6. Make Sure the Outdoor Unit Is Clean

The outdoor condenser unit contains vital components that maintain airflow and release heat. If it becomes dirty, your entire AC system can malfunction. To prevent issues that can lead to a major air conditioner repair:

  • Clear leaves, branches, and twigs from the top of the unit.
  • Maintain at least two feet of clearance on all sides.
  • Keep the unit shaded so direct sunlight doesn’t overheat and strain it.

Also, check the outdoor unit’s coils and fins for dirt and debris. Cleaning the unit can prevent various problems. To do so, turn off the power, remove the fan assembly, and use a soft brush or vacuum to clean the coils and fins. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning your specific type of unit; or, to be on the safe side, call a professional. 

7. Check for a Clogged Condensate Drain

The condensate drain line removes water that condenses from moisture your AC system collects from the air. If the line becomes clogged, indoor humidity levels can increase, while the problem can also lead to water damage and mold (resulting in serious damage to your HVAC system and home). Check the condensate drain often for blockages. There are home remedies for unclogging it, but hiring a professional can save money and avoid a major air conditioning repair.

8. Call for Help If the Evaporator Coil Freezes

A frozen evaporator coil can do a lot of damage and is often a sign of other problems. Turn off your AC right away. Leaving it off or running the fan for a while may thaw out the coil. However, the best option is to call a repair technician to defrost it and determine what caused the problem. The reasons can range from a clogged filter to a refrigerant leak. Ignoring the issue may lead to damage that requires replacing the coil or the most expensive AC repair—compressor replacement.

9. Don’t Ignore Signs of a Refrigerant Leak

A refrigerant leak can cause your AC system to overheat and break down. Over time, wear and tear and corrosion can affect the coils. The refrigerant is contained in a closed system and doesn’t get used up. Therefore, if you have to recharge the system, there’s most likely a leak somewhere. Call a professional for the following signs of a refrigerant leak:

  • Reduced cooling performance
  • The AC isn’t dehumidifying the air
  • Cooling cycles are running longer
  • The evaporator coils are icy
  • Hissing or bubbling sounds from the outdoor unit
  • Inefficiencies are driving up your energy bills

10. Schedule an Annual AC Tune-Up

As much as you want to avoid calling a local AC contractor, doing so annually can prevent costly air conditioning repairs. A technician has the tools and expertise to properly clean sensitive components, measure refrigerant levels, and lubricate moving parts. They can also check for damage to electrical parts and look for duct leaks. Taking corrective measures for smaller issues can avoid larger repairs and save much money over the life of the system.

Schedule AC Maintenance or Repair with Trio Heating & Air

We are a reliable and experienced air conditioning company serving the The Greater San Francisco Bay Area area. Our licensed technicians are committed to high-quality results and customer satisfaction. They are equipped to address any problem and respond quickly to get your system running again. With regular maintenance, emergencies and costly major repairs can be avoided, which is why we recommend annual AC tune-ups. To schedule air conditioning repairs, routine maintenance, or other AC services, book an appointment online or call (415) 223-5615.

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