Like virtually any household appliance, your air conditioning unit will eventually begin wearing out and operating in a suboptimal fashion—and, one day, it will likely stop working altogether. When the AC is completely dead and can’t be fixed, the solution is obvious: You need to replace the unit.
However, what happens when the unit is still operating, but not like it once did? It’s still blowing cool air, more or less, but it’s clearly not doing the job very well. Or maybe there are no obvious signs of diminishment, but the unit is undeniably old and isn’t up to the standards of newer models. What should you do then?
A lot of us prefer to keep running that old air conditioning unit for as long as possible. That’s understandable enough—when money is tight, it’s hard to justify spending cash on items that do not need to be replaced immediately. Even so, there are sound reasons why you should consider doing just that.
An old or worn-out AC unit can cause a host of annoying problems for you. Let’s take this opportunity to examine some of the problems associated with defective air conditioning equipment.
Wear and Tear
As we’ve mentioned, no matter how carefully you tend to your air conditioning unit—cleaning it out, replacing filters every so often, etc.—it’s going to wear out. So, why not just keep running it until it dies? One reason has to do with the fine print in a lot of people’s homeowners’ insurance policies.
These policies generally make a sharp distinction between personal air conditioning units (like the ones you install in your window) and those built into the home. The ones in the first category are generally not covered by homeowners’ insurance, while those in the second category, which are considered to be part of the home itself, usually are.
This all means that the strategy of running your air conditioning unit to the point of total failure may not work out for you—it’s probably not insured, and you won’t be getting a free replacement. A better strategy is to replace the unit at an appropriate time once it’s clear that wear has set in. At least, in that case, you won’t be taken by surprise by a sudden breakdown in the middle of summer.
So, what kinds of wear and tear tend to afflict air conditioning units? Fin damage is one common issue. Fins are those grille-like collections of thin metal on the outside of your air conditioning unit. They’re quite delicate, which makes them vulnerable to damage and deformity.
Once the fins have been bent out of shape—due to falling hail, accidental human contact, or any number of other things—air can’t pass through them easily, resulting in premature wear to the unit. Fortunately, it is possible to repair fin damage—to a certain extent. Seriously damaged fins can’t be restored to their new condition; you’ll have to replace the unit after a while.
Rooftop air conditioning units, commonly found on commercial buildings, are especially vulnerable to damage caused by hail or other gifts from Mother Nature. Environmental phenomena like this can be expected to significantly shorten the lifespan of the AC unit.
Incidentally, you need to be careful when throwing out your worn-out unit. Some old air conditioners use chlorofluorocarbon refrigerants that must be disposed of properly—or else you could incur a huge fine from the EPA.
If you suffer from allergies, then you’re already aware that it’s not necessarily an easy task to find an environment where you can relax in peace. What a lot of people don’t fully appreciate, however, is that their air conditioning units can be the cause of their torment. Why is this?
For one thing, humidity that tends to collect inside the unit can breed toxic mold. That’s not good for anyone—but it’s significantly more troublesome for anyone suffering from allergies. Mold spores in the air can easily trigger an uncomfortable attack.
Another issue is posed by improperly sealed air conditioning units that inadvertently permit outside air particles to enter the room. You need to ensure that your unit is entirely sealed so all air must pass through the filter. If this isn’t possible, due to the shape of the equipment or another obstruction, then allergy sufferers might wish to consider finding a new AC unit that will fit properly.
As we’ve mentioned, AC units can be expected to undergo significant functional deterioration as the seasons pass. This deterioration can present itself in many ways. Sometimes the AC refuses to turn on at all despite the prompting of the thermostat. Sometimes the AC runs but the air that comes out isn’t sufficiently cool, or, even worse, it’s uncomfortably warm.
It’s not always easy to figure out the cause of inadequate cooling, as it could be any one of a number of things. Low coolant fluid, a clogged outdoor compressor, a blocked condensate drain, a broken blower fan, an obstructed refrigerant line—any of these problems could compromise your AC’s ability to deliver cool air that you need to maintain an agreeable room temperature.
Often, the cause can be discovered through a brief inspection and easily corrected by the homeowner. In many cases, though, you’re going to need professional help. As your air conditioning unit ages, you can expect to see these problems with increasing frequency, and, eventually, the total cost of all this ongoing maintenance will exceed the cost of simply purchasing a new one. Your best bet is to replace the AC instead of putting up with recurring hassles of this nature.
Does your air conditioning unit stop and start frequently? That’s not an uncommon issue, and, in the industry, it’s known as “hard starting.” Often, it points to a serious electrical problem with your AC unit, such as a blown fuse or similar issue. Over time, hard starting will overburden your compressor, resulting in its eventual failure.
Similarly, a wiring problem inside your unit may cause your compressor to overheat, also resulting in an early death. When you have electrical problems like these, your AC is well past the point where a little tinkering from a non-professional will solve anything. You definitely need a maintenance man to take a look at it. You may want to look into buying a new air conditioning unit, particularly if the professional diagnosis calls for replacing the compressor.
You probably don’t need to be lectured about the dangers of toxic mold in the home. If you’re susceptible to allergies or suffer from a weakened immune system, it can be a major hassle. What most people don’t realize is that their air conditioning unit can promote the growth of mold inside the home. Why would this be so, you ask?
Mold thrives in high-humidity environments. That’s one reason why it’s best to keep your air conditioning running continuously during the summer—doing that will reduce the humidity present in your house. However, if your AC unit isn’t running well, it may not be able to perform this important function, and you could end up with potentially dangerous mold.
As you can see, there are a number of sound reasons to replace your air conditioning system, especially if it’s getting advanced in years. When you need a new AC unit, you can trust the team of experienced professionals at Kaiser AC to install one for you, so you can have access to a high-quality cooling system for years to come. Contact us for your air conditioning needs—we’re here to help.