Homeowners rely on their air conditioning units the most during the summer, especially in warm climates like Southern California. Unfortunately, the added workload makes summer the time of year when air conditioning units are most likely to break down and require emergency repairs.
Living without air conditioning simply isn’t doable for most people, especially those with health conditions requiring them to maintain a comfortable climate in their living space. Emergency air conditioning repair work can be expensive, but homeowners can greatly reduce their chances of a breakdown by taking care of their air conditioner units and investing in regular maintenance by air conditioning service professionals.
How Air Conditioners Work
Here in the U.S., about three-quarters of all homes have air conditioners. Air conditioners are big consumers of electricity, using about six percent of all the electricity produced in America. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that U.S. homeowners spend more than $29 billion each year on energy costs related to their air conditioners.
Air conditioners employ the same principles of thermodynamics that refrigerators use to create a cool area by transferring heat. Refrigerators use energy to move heat from the interior of the refrigerator to its exterior. Air conditioners transfer heat from inside your home to the outdoors.
In your air conditioning unit, a compressor pushes refrigerant between the evaporator and condenser. The refrigerant will evaporate in the evaporator coil inside your home and capture heat from inside the home, and then be pumped outside the home in gas form. The heat is dispersed and the refrigerant is changed back into liquid form by the condenser. The cool air inside the home created by the heat transfer is circulated throughout the home via fans and ducts.
In the summer months, air conditioning units work harder to maintain desired temperatures within houses and other buildings because they must move more heat. All that work puts extra wear and tear on the mechanical systems of the unit, and, without proper maintenance, air conditioner units can become at higher risk of breaking down. HomeAdvisor says that the average A/C repair bill can run between $164 and $508, and if the whole system must be replaced, the cost will easily run north of $3,500.
|Most Common Air Conditioner Repairs & Price Range|
|Refrigerant leak detection and repair||$225 – $1,600|
|A/C refrigerant recharge||$160 – $400|
|Circuit board replacement||$120 – $600|
|Replace fuses, circuit breakers, or relays||$15 – $300|
|Thermostat replacement||$60 – $250|
|A/C compressor repair hard start kit||$100 – $250|
|Capacitor or contactor replacement||$90 – $400|
|Home air compressor replacement||$1,350 – $1,800|
|Evaporator coil replacement||$650 – $1,200|
|Condensing unit fan motor replacement||$100 – $300|
|Condensate pump replacement||$90 – $250|
Reducing Your Need for Emergency Repairs
The name of the game for reducing the likelihood that you’ll need emergency air conditioning repairs is reducing your usage of your unit. The harder your unit has to work to keep your home cool, the more likely it is that parts will wear out or replacement refrigerant will be needed. Try these tips for keeping your air conditioner running smoothly:
- Install a smart thermostat – Smart thermostats can help you reduce the wear and tear on your air conditioning unit. You can program a smart thermostat to only cool your home while you’re there, reducing energy wasted on cooling an empty home. Many modern thermostats can be programmed remotely with smartphones, giving you more convenient control over your air conditioning. For people who own out-of-town or out-of-state vacation rental properties, this can be very helpful in managing energy costs in their condos, houses, and townhomes.
- Keep the area around your outdoor unit clear – Leaves, twigs, and other debris can infiltrate your air conditioner unit and damage its mechanical components. Also, if your unit is near a tree, that tree may fall on it if a severe storm strikes. To prevent damage to your unit that may result in an emergency repair, keep the area around it clear of trees, shrubs, and weeds. Trim any limbs that may be hanging over your unit, to avoid potential damage if that limb were to fall.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated – Insulation will help keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, reducing the work your HVAC unit must do to maintain a comfortable temperature. If your home doesn’t have enough insulation, chances are you’ll be spending more money on energy costs to control the climate in your home, and you’ll also likely spend more money on maintenance as your unit must work harder.
Your attic is a good place to start checking for adequate insulation. It’s easy to access and by insulating your attic you can have a big impact on your unit’s workload.
- Keep your blinds and curtains closed – Much of the heat that comes in your home comes via sunlight shining through your window. By keeping them covered with blinds and curtains, you can reduce the heat coming into your home and cut your air conditioner’s workload.
- Don’t ignore changes – Changes in how your air conditioner performs—even small things like a slightly higher power bill or occasional noise—can indicate a serious problem with your unit. While the unit may not immediately break down or send your power bills spiraling, given time these minor problems can become large and expensive problems. If you feel your unit isn’t working properly or if you notice a change in its performance, get in touch with an air conditioner repair service right away.
- Turn up the thermostat – By turning up your thermostat just a few degrees, you can greatly reduce the workload on your unit. Try turning the thermostat up to 78 degrees and placing fans at strategic points in the home to improve air circulation. You’ll find that your comfort level is unchanged, but your power bill will likely go down.
- Change your air filters – Regularly changing your air filter is probably one of the most important things you can do to keep your unit functioning. Clogged air filters can greatly reduce your unit’s efficiency, making it run continuously to maintain a comfortable temperature. Air filters that are dirty also lose their effectiveness at keeping dirt and debris out of the system where they can cause damage to your unit.
- Schedule regular maintenance – Hiring an air conditioning maintenance company to check out your unit once or twice a year can help you extend its life and avoid surprise repair needs. A/C technicians can clean your ducts, add refrigerant to your unit, check for damage or malfunctions, and make needed repairs. With regular maintenance, you can catch problems early and address them to avoid costly repairs later down the road.
When searching for an air conditioning repair and maintenance company for your unit, it pays to find a company with a good reputation in the local business community and a track record of success.
Kaiser Air Conditioning is an Oxnard, CA air conditioning installation and maintenance company serving Southern California. In business since 1981, Kaiser Air Conditioning has grown from a small, one-man operation to a successful company with 20 employees, 12 trucks, and a 5,000-sq.-ft. sheet metal fabrication facility.
Kaiser Air Conditioning’s investment in its sheet metal fabrication facility gives it the capability of handling custom work where specialized parts are needed. A responsible corporate citizen, the company also supports a number of local charitable organizations, including affordable housing and crisis pregnancy groups.
Contact Kaiser Air Conditioning today to set up a maintenance plan or discuss your other air conditioning needs.