Understanding the most common HVAC problems can help with safety and reliability. HVAC systems are crucial in any type of business or home, providing comfort to their users. HVAC systems can be composed of air conditioning systems, heating pumps, air handlers, ductless systems, thermostats and more. But, like any equipment, problems arise that cause safety and reliability issues.
Problem 1: Dirty Filters
One of the most common HVAC problems that people face is the presence of dirty filters. Filters are extremely important in keeping the circulating air clean. Filters are able to catch pollen, filter out particles in the air, and also catch microorganisms that can make people sick.
The absence of a clean filter can cause air-handling fans to take on extra stress, leading to faster deterioration of internal parts. Because of this, overall safety can become an issue. Also, once efficiency goes down, the machine has to work harder, causing energy costs to increase. Additionally, when filters become dirty, they become less effective, causing portions of air to become unfiltered. Spotty filtration means dangerous particles are constantly lingering in the air.
The MERV rating system is a great standard to use when purchasing filters for your unit. MERV 8 level filters are great for filtering dust, pollen, mold, and dust mites out of circulating air. MERV 11 filters add the ability to filter out smoke and smog, along with general coughing and sneezing. The most comprehensive filter is the top-rated MERV 13. This level adds protection against airborne viruses and bacteria that can cause harm. Replacing filters should happen every 60-90 days to ensure top performance.
Problem 2: Blockage Of The A/C Drain
One facet of air conditioning that is often brushed over is dehumidification. The cooling process in AC units condense humidity in the air back into water. The drain line is a way for all of this water to exit the air conditioner and the building it is cooling.
Problems begin to occur if the drain line becomes backed up. With nowhere to go, the water that would normally leave the A/C unit begins to backfill into the drain pan. As this water evaporates inside of the unit, indoor humidity levels begin to rise, defeating the initial purpose of dehumidification. Along with this, the internal parts of the A/C begin to develop rust and corrosion. This not only shortens the life span of the unit, but also leads to costly repairs in the long run.
If this problem is not caught in the early stages, disaster can occur. A complete overflow of the drain pan can lead to water damage on walls, decreasing their structural integrity and causing staining. This excess water can also pose an issue to the electrical system within your building, in the worst cases, causing an electrical fire.
Problem 3: General Wear
With the amount of use that a unit gets every day, it makes sense that general wear and tear is a common HVAC problem. After around 10–12 years, HVACs begin to lose integrity in some of their major elements. Energy Air, INC. provides information saying:
The Department of Energy recommends homeowners replace their HVAC system every 10 to 15 years. Modern air conditioners are durable, but their major components will begin to deteriorate after around ten years.
AC units that are more than ten years old also likely use a refrigerant known as R-22. R-22 is a type of Freon that is outdated and harmful to the environment. Upgrading to a newer unit will reduce your carbon footprint while cutting down on your monthly energy bills.
Replacing old HVAC units helps lower your energy costs while at the same time reducing the amount of greenhouse gas usage.
Problem 4: Odd Noises
Many common HVAC problems revolve around irregular noises. Weird noises are great indicators of a problem in an HVAC system. Each unique noise points to a different cause and a different remedy.
A single, reoccurring, loud bang can be a very startling noise, but is generally nothing to worry about in the long run. This noise happens due to a temperature change in the HVAC unit. While it can be annoying, this is likely just the ducting flexing due to thermal expansion and contraction. Improving the insulation of your ducts should make a noticeable difference.
If your machine is screeching or whining, there may be a problem with your motor or fan. There are two common remedies for this problem. Applying lubricant has the ability to stop these noises if friction is the cause. However, if this doesn’t fix the problem, then a professional might need to come in to fix the fan belt or motor.
A grinding noise signals a very serious problem. When components of the HVAC are grinding together, there is a risk of a fire starting. If you suspect that you are hearing grinding within your HVAC system, turn it off immediately and contact a service professional.
Problem 5: Warm A/C
If your air conditioning system is sending warm air out of the vent, something is clearly wrong. The compressor in an air conditioning unit is tasked with compressing the refrigerant, which cools the air. If warm air is coming out of your vents, there are two possible causes. The compressor needs maintenance, or more refrigeration needs to be added to the machine. These fixes generally need to be done by a professional.