These 3 Minor Problems Can Lead To Major Air Conditioning Failures

There's sometimes no way to avoid an expensive air conditioning repair. As systems age, expensive components such as the compressor can begin to wear out, leading to dramatic and expensive repairs. While prompt repairs can help delay the inevitable, all air conditioning systems will eventually succumb to these costly failures.

However, most problems suffered from otherwise healthy air conditioning systems are not nearly so remarkable. While well-maintained systems may still encounter issues, they often require less costly and intense repairs. Still, ignoring these three minor problems may set you on a path to much more expensive future failures.

1. Crumbling Refrigerant Line Set Insulation 

If you look at your outdoor condenser unit, you should see a bundle of wires entering the casing and two copper pipes. These pipes carry the refrigerant that makes air conditioning possible, with one line returning cool refrigerant to the evaporator and the other bringing warm refrigerant to the condenser. In most cases, the return (or suction) line should have insulation, at least for its outdoor portion.

Unfortunately, this insulation can crumble over time, exposing the pipe to the elements. Once exposed, the refrigerant can absorb heat from the surrounding air, reducing its efficiency. It may also be subject to condensation, damaging the pipe or even leading to eventual refrigerant leaks. Repairing the insulation is a cheap and easy job that maintains system efficiency and prevents future problems.

2. Damaged Condenser Coil Fins

The condenser coil fins are the stars of the show for your outdoor unit. While most units will have a metal casing to protect the fins from damage, you can usually see them through openings in the casing. These fins will wrap around all or most of the outdoor unit and conceal the lines that carry warm refrigerant.

Since the condenser relies on the maximum surface area for efficiency, damaged or dented condenser coil fins will greatly reduce system efficiency. If enough fins are damaged, they can interfere with the refrigerant cycle, strain the compressor, and cause short cycling. An HVAC tech can often use a fin comb to repair the damaged sections, ensuring your system can keep you cool all summer.

3. Small Refrigerant Leaks

When refrigerant leaks develop in an air conditioning system, they can often be small and difficult to notice. While a major leak will stop your system from working, a minor leak may reduce system pressure over many months. Initial symptoms can be relatively unobtrusive since your evaporator may only freeze over on hot days and under heavy usage.

Unfortunately, these problems are anything but minor. Like your condenser coils, your evaporator coils need their surface area exposed to air to function. Ice insulates the coils, stopping them from absorbing heat, preventing your refrigerant from vaporizing, and potentially causing damaging liquid refrigerant to return to the compressor. If you want to avoid serious damage, it's crucial to repair even small leaks.

Contact air conditioning repair services to learn more.