Why They Matter To Your HVAC System
Imagine your skin feeling pasty and moist from sweat, the air around it thick and hot. You’re thrilled that breathing is involuntary… otherwise, you might choose to reject air itself for its offensively torrid existence. It’s officially summer, and the strategically-placed high-powered fans can no longer measure up to what Mother Nature is brewing. Your city’s temperatures have hit a level that your spouse finally deems worthy of the ultimate relief… turning on the air conditioner.
Even the thought of cool air sends a calming wave across your flushed face. Slowly, you rise from your chair, conscious of the fact that walking is now legitimately considered overexertion. You take one sluggish step after the next, after the next… until you reach the thermostat. In one subtle and powerful motion, you shift the indicator from its neutral “OFF” position, slightly left to “COOL.” And then you wait.
It usually takes a few moments for the familiar hum to begin. Your eyes are closed in anticipation. You decide that even if you don’t feel the cool air right away, you’re fine knowing that it’s on its way. You stand there, patiently inhaling and exhaling, feeling proud about the money your family has saved by outlasting your neighbors (on both sides). They’d turned their units on weeks ago. Suckers.
As the seconds tick on, you realize that nothing’s happening. Nothing. You look up at the vent, as if flowing air will show itself to you even as it remains silent. It doesn’t. And you know instinctively that something is wrong. You reach for the thermostat again. “Perhaps turning it off, then back on, will reset it somehow,” you think. It doesn’t. You walk outside, almost in a panic, and find yourself staring at your central air conditioning unit. Besides being a bit dusty, it looks fine to you. What you’re about to discover is a problem happening just beneath the surface.
What Causes Damage To The Evaporating Coils?
As summer approaches, heat and humidity tend to follow. Just like we get our vehicles winterized in preparation for the cooling weather, our air conditioning units must be checked to make certain their cooling functions are working properly. One of the most important components of an air conditioning system is the cooling coil (evaporator coil). Air conditioners remove hot air from inside your home through these coils, and the hot air is cooled by refrigerant that flows from liquid to gaseous form through the coils. If these parts don’t work, it can result in a sweltering, miserable time indoors.
So, what causes coils to break down? There are a lot of factors that impact the effectiveness of coils, and the wear and tear that takes place as a result.
Geography ::: Although the standard life expectancy of cooling coils is around twenty years, geography has a definite impact. Areas with higher amounts of moisture in the air require lower coil temperatures. If the coils are unable to condense the moisture, it can cause “high humidity, mold, and human discomfort,” according to a 2016 article published by The Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration NEWS online.
Leaks ::: Over time, cooling coils can develop holes through which refrigerant will leak. This can be a health and environmental hazard, so it is important to quickly seal the leak or replace the coils altogether. Leaking refrigerant oil will leave noticeable stains at the point of the leakage. TO see the leakage, you would have to remove the panel covering the inner workings of the unit, which isn’t recommended unless you’re a professional.
Blockages ::: There are several things that can block the flow of air through the coils, including ice/frost, dirt, and debris. Ice can be the result of incorrect refrigerant charge in your unit, and it can quickly accumulate, blocking the flow of air. Mold can also grow in the coil, closing the opening through which air and coolant are supposed to flow freely. Technicians carry small air flow meters with them, and can measure this with accuracy if you are not sure.
How You Know There Is A Problem
Most people aren’t HVAC experts, so it can be difficult to tell whether or not your cooling coils are in good shape. There are several clues that let you know that there may be a problem with your coils, here are a few:
- A/C is on, but warm air is blowing out through air vents
- A/C continually shuts on and off without cooling
- A/C makes strange sounds such as a banging or hissing
- There are leaks near the indoor unit
- A/C will not turn on at all
What To Do When Your A/C Unit Stops Working
If you notice any of these signs, contact a professional HVAC technician immediately. Turning on a malfunctioning – or worse… non-functioning – air conditioning unit in the midst of a blazing hot -summer is an uncomfortable misfortune. The longer you wait for repair or replacement, the greater the damage. The greater the damage, the more expensive the solution. And the only thing worse than paying a lot of money to fix a problem that could have been avoided… is being really hot while doing it. It’s hard to remember how valuable an efficient air conditioning system is until you are in the middle of your own nature-made sauna. Check your unit today. Don’t wait.