Your AC unit is clearly not working properly and you have called your local air conditioner repair company —preferably Cool Change Heating and Air if you live right here in Raleigh 🙂 — What should you do now, while you wait for the AC repair man?
The short answer is TURN YOUR AC OFF. But let’s talk about why.
Your HVAC system is made up of a lot of components, each relying on the other to work correctly. When one part stops working properly, and especially when it gets to the point you notice it’s not cooling your home, it affects all the other components in the system.
In other words, if you HVAC system is not performing correctly and you continue to run it (usually in hopes that it will magically start working again before the ac repair man shows up) other parts can be destroyed! What could have been a very reasonable repair cost can turn into a much higher bill.
The two most common reasons an AC system “breaks down” is low on freon or a bad capacitor. Of course there are many other reasons your cooling system can show signs of malfunction, but these are the most common.
A capacitor is a small part but it is vital to the health of your motors in the HVAC system. The capacitors in the condenser (the outside unit) give your fan motor and compressor the extra juice they need to run. If all or part of that capacitor is bad, it can literally cause the fan motor or compressor to burn up! Very Bad! Simply shutting your AC off when it isn’t really running correctly, can potentially save yourself big repair costs in this instance.
Problems associated with running an ac system when it’s low on freon is a little more difficult to explain, but I’ll try to make it as simple as I can without getting too deep into the science. As you lose freon and it gets below a certain pressure, freon will get below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That will cause that box/air handler in your attic, or crawlspace to freeze.
A few things happen at that point. The first is a big block of ice forms in that box and no air, or very little air, can pass through to your vents as a result. The next, and perhaps the most important, is that when the AC repairman gets there and the system is “frozen”, he will not be able to do anything until it defrosts. Several hours must now pass, while you sweat, until the ice melts and the repairman finally comes back to put a little freon in your ac system.
Low freon also causes unbalances in the system. When the freon is low, it does not “flash” from a liquid to a gas as it goes through the ac unit. That mean that the freon is now entering the compressor as a liquid. NOT a good thing! It is impossible for a compressor to compress liquid. This will destroy, or at very least, shorten the life of your compressor.
Again a fairly inexpensive AC repair can turn into something else if you don’t turn your AC system off when you notice it doesn’t work properly.
So what should you do while you wait for AC repair?
Turn your heat/cool selection to “OFF”. Then, if you like, you can turn your fan selection from AUTO to ON. This will circulate air in your home until your AC repair company gets there and remedy the situation.
Also, if you haven’t already, go ahead and replace your filters. They probably haven’t been replaced in ages and it will save you from having to hear a lecture from one of our technicians.
Once that’s done, it’s time to wait. But if you live in Raleigh and called Cool Change Heating and Air, we’ll be there soon and you too will be the “coolest client in town” in no time!