Are there watermarks on your ceiling? Visible leaks around your outdoor unit? Has your AC system completely stopped working? If you notice any of these signs, it’s in your best interest to call an AC technician to fix the issue before it causes more problems for you, your AC system, and your home. To learn more about potential AC malfunctions and how we fix AC issues, visit our AC Repair page.
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According to a 2015 government survey, 87% of the homes in the United States use air conditioning and 65% of those homes have central air conditioning. Most of the homes with central air conditioning have programmable thermostats, but approximately two-thirds of the homes with central air do not use this feature to make their homes more energy efficient.
The condensed, pressurized, and still usually somewhat hot liquid refrigerant is next routed through an expansion valve (often nothing more than a pinhole in the system's copper tubing) where it undergoes an abrupt reduction in pressure. That pressure reduction results in flash evaporation of a part of the liquid refrigerant, greatly lowering its temperature. The cold refrigerant is then routed through the evaporator. A fan blows the interior warm air (which is to be cooled) across the evaporator, causing the liquid part of the cold refrigerant mixture to evaporate as well, further lowering the temperature. The warm air is therefore cooled and is pumped by an exhaust fan/ blower into the room. To complete the refrigeration cycle, the refrigerant vapor is routed back into the compressor. In order for the process to have any efficiency, the cooling/evaporative portion of the system must be separated by some kind of physical barrier from the heating/condensing portion, and each portion must have its own fan to circulate its own "kind" of air (either the hot air or the cool air).
If you happen to live in a hot and humid area of the country, drainage problems can occur with your unit since moisture can trap itself inside the system. Routine maintenance can cut down on drainage issues by cleaning out any mold or algae from blocking the drain. If you notice moldy smells whenever you turn the thermostat down, check on your system.
Start with your utility company; they can help a great deal. Comparing previous bills isn't always a good measure, as the weather is never exactly the same month to month. Instead, if you take your energy bill and divide it by the square footage of livable space in your home, don't count areas like unfinished garages or basements -- you can calculate how much you are spending to heat or cool each square foot of your home. Your energy provider can tell you what the average cost per square foot is in your region for that same period of time so you can compare apples to apples.
Some systems include an "economizer mode", which is sometimes called a "free-cooling mode". When economizing, the control system will open (fully or partially) the outside air damper and close (fully or partially) the return air damper. This will cause fresh, outside air to be supplied to the system. When the outside air is cooler than the demanded cool air, this will allow the demand to be met without using the mechanical supply of cooling (typically chilled water or a direct expansion "DX" unit), thus saving energy. The control system can compare the temperature of the outside air vs. return air, or it can compare the enthalpy of the air, as is frequently done in climates where humidity is more of an issue. In both cases, the outside air must be less energetic than the return air for the system to enter the economizer mode.
Central home air conditioner service systems consist of two major components: a condensing unit that sits outside your house, and the evaporator coil (often referred to as an A-coil) that sits in the plenum of your furnace or air handler. The refrigerant in the A-coil picks up the heat from your home and moves it to the outdoor condensing unit. The condensing unit fan blows outside air through the condensing coil to remove the heat. The condensing unit houses the three parts replaceable by a DIYer: the contactor, the start/run capacitor(s) and the condenser fan motor. The condensing unit also houses the compressor, but only a pro can replace that. The A-coil has no parts that can be serviced by a DIYer.