Troubleshooting Central Air Conditioning Issues
Troubleshooting Central Air Conditioning Issues

By David Markoff

Hot weather got you thinking of buying a new air conditioner? Is your current air conditioning system not cutting it anymore? If you have central air conditioning, it may be time for an upgrade, or time to delve into the area of troubleshooting central air conditioning problems. Before making a big investment in a new system, take some to read and learn more about troubleshooting central air conditioning units.

Your current air conditioning unit may be ineffective ...

If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, it may not be functioning at its optimum efficiently. You may need the assistance of a professional who is an expert in troubleshooting air conditioning problems or you may need replace the unit with a more energy-efficient air conditioning model. Older air conditioners typically mean higher energy bills.
If your air conditioner needs frequent repairs, it may not be properly suited for your home. You need a heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) specialist to assess your current system, or you could investigate yourself by reading through a central air conditioning troubleshooting guide.
If your cooling bills continue to rise, your system may be working inefficiently. Some of the cost of a new air conditioning system will be offset by lower energy bills.
If some of the rooms in your home are either too hot or too cold, it could be your air conditioning equipment malfunctioning or functioning inefficiently, or it could be a result of problems with your ducts or inadequate insulation.
If you have problems with humidity, your air conditioning equipment may be defective or otherwise performing inadequately, or you may have leaky ductwork, which can be corrected by a qualified HVAC contractor.
If there is a lot of noise coming from your air conditioning unit, there may be a problem with its indoor coil, or your duct system may be too small. For any of these scenarios, you may want to contact a local HVAC specialist to perform some in-depth central air conditioning troubleshooting and make some sound recommendations for you.

For any of these scenarios, contact a local HVAC specialist for an assessment and recommendations or you may want to refer to a central air conditioning troubleshooting guide.

A bigger air conditioning system is not always better

The most important factor when purchasing a central air conditioning system is that it is the appropriate size. Bigger is not necessarily better. If your system is too big, it will not be as effective at dehumidifying, which will make your home feel hotter. Also, because oversized systems cycle on and off more frequently than they should, which can cause them to break down more often and you will need more frequent air conditioning troubleshooting by yourself or a professional. An air conditioning system that is too small will not be able to cool your house adequately. It will be overworked, use excessive electricity, run loudly and be prone to premature failure. It may even freeze over on the warmest days and you may see not end to the constant need for troubleshooting air conditioning problems.

Get a professional air conditioning contractor to assess your system requirements

A professional installer would be excellent at troubleshooting central air conditioning issues and is trained to consider various factors that determine the right size of air conditioning equipment to meet the specific needs of your home - beyond square footage. Factors such as the age of the house, its size, how many stories it has, how well it is insulated, the number and quality of windows, and even local energy rates. They should use industry-standard "Manual J" and "Manual S" sizing calculations, however their years of experience can be used modify the results. They may take into account other factors such as the shade effect of trees or the positioning of the windows on the house, to further inform their recommendations. For this reason, it is best to get more than one opinion and you may even want to consult a central air conditioning troubleshooting guide yourself to get all the facts.

Once you know the proper size of air conditioning unit required for your home, you can compare different models for energy efficiency, price, warranties offered, quiet operation, etc. To compare energy efficiency, each system is given a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating, or SEER (look for the yellow Energy Guide tag attached to each appliance).

Go for air conditioning units with SEER 13 or above

To keep it simple, the higher the SEER value, the more energy-efficient is the system. Right now, a SEER of 10 is the lowest rating of air conditioner allowed to be sold by law. However, on January 26, 2006, the law will change requiring a minimum mandatory SEER rating of 13. So for now you are still able to purchase SEER 10, 11 and 12 air conditioners, but it is a good idea to buy at least SEER 13. Aside from its better energy efficiency (i.e. lower cooling bills) and less damage to the environment, further down the road you will not have as much difficulty and expense of air conditioning troubleshooting and trying to find parts for an outdated system.

Energy Star means energy-efficient

To ensure that you are getting a system with exceptional energy efficiency, buy an air conditioning unit with an Energy Star label affixed. Energy Star is a program developed jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to promote the use of appliances that reduce energy consumption and have less negative impact on the environment. According to the EPA, an air conditioner that qualifies for Energy Star will save you 20 percent in energy costs compared to new systems and should mean a reduction in troubleshooting air conditioning problems for you.

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