Symptoms and causes of HVAC problems

Lifestyle | 21 Oct |

Your HVAC system has several important features. It helps keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It helps control the humidity and keeps your air clean.

So when you start experiencing a problem with your HVAC unit, your first instinct might be to call a professional. However, there are some HVAC problems you can troubleshoot and solve on your own. HVAC problems are usually easy to spot.

Keep reading to figure out the symptoms of some of the most common problems, what the cause of the problem might be, and how to fix them.

Your home isn’t cooling properly — but your bills are still high

One of the most common HVAC problems is clogged filters. Clogged filters can negatively impact your unit. Dirty filters cause airflow issues, which prevents the unit from properly cooling your home. This leads to your system working harder, which can raise your energy bills and cause your system to overheat. Clogged filters can also cause health problems, such as allergies and cold-like symptoms.

Air filters become clogged when they aren’t replaced frequently. This is because there are contaminants in the air that the filters are catching. The good news is that this is a simple problem to fix. All you need to do is buy new filters, take the old ones out, and put the new ones in. Regular maintenance of your filters can prevent more complex problems. Most manufacturers will tell you how often to replace your filters. If you have pets in your home or you smoke within your home, you will want to change your filters more frequently.

Your HVAC has trouble starting

If your unit is slow to start or not turning on at all, you’re probably having trouble with your ignition. If you’re trying to use your furnace, check to make sure that you have enough gas and that your pilot light is on. If you don’t have enough gas, order more fuel. If your pilot light is off, relight it using a match. Another common cause of ignition problems is clogged air filters. Replacing your air filters is sometimes enough to get everything back up and running.

If you have a basic knowledge of your unit, you’ll probably be able to tell if there is some sort of electrical component that isn’t triggering. Even if you’re not sure how to fix it and end up having to call a technician, having a basic idea of the problem can help save you money because you can tell the technician what needs to be fixed. If you have no idea at all, the technician will have to run a diagnosis test.

There is water pooling near your unit

If you start noticing water leaking out from under your unit, you could have an AC refrigerant leak. Other signs of a leak include a hissing sound coming from the unit, warm air coming from the registers, or ice forming on the evaporator coils. If you suspect you have a leak, check to see if the refrigerant in your unit is lowering. The amount of refrigerant in your unit should always say the same; if it is lowering, you definitely have a leak.

To fix a leak, the first thing you’ll need to determine is where the leak is. You can use an ultrasonic leak detector (such as the ones featured on the Tiny House Huge Ideas website) to determine the source of the leak within your unit. You can then use a sealant to stop the leak.

The outdoor portion of the unit is hissing

A hissing unit is never a good thing. A hissing noise could be an indication that your evaporator coils are corroding or breaking apart. The hissing noise is caused by refrigerant leaking through tiny holes within the coil. Other symptoms of corroding coils are difficulty maintaining a consistent temperature and an increase in your energy bill. Sometimes you can also see visible changes to your coils.

Corrosion is usually a result of volatile organic compounds wearing away at the metal of the coils. To prevent this from happening, you should regularly have a professional clean your unit and install an air cleaner on your unit. If your coils are already starting to corrode, there is no easy fix. You’ll need to call in a professional to look at the unit because there is no easy way to fix holes in coils. The professional will first determine if there is a way to replace just the evaporator coil. If this isn’t possible, you’ll have to replace the entire unit.

You’re constantly having to make repairs

If you feel like if you’re constantly making repairs or that your unit just isn’t functioning properly, it could be time to replace the whole unit. Most units need to be replaced every 10 to 15 years. Common signs that it is time to replace the unit include increasing energy bills, an increase of dust coming from the unit, a burning or moldy smell coming from the unit, or unusual sounds. If the cost to repair a problem is half of what a new unit would cost, it is time to make a change.

When picking a new unit, you’ll want to look at the ratings, the size of the unit, and if the unit is energy efficient. Generally, it is better to purchase a model that is more expensive if it is energy efficient. While it might initially cost more, you have to factor in the money the unit will save you. Cheaper units might need frequent repairs or might raise your energy bill.

You will need to work with a professional to get the HVAC unit replaced. Usually, the professional will have additional recommendations on what type of unit would work best for your house.

In summary

Sometimes, it is easy to fix your HVAC without help from a professional. Knowing the basic parts of your unit and knowing what basic maintenance it requires could save you money. However, if you run into problems you’re not comfortable fixing on your own, always consult a professional.

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