4 Signs your Heating and Air Conditioning Unit May be in Trouble

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We’re just settling into the fairest months of the year for most Americans. As the outside temperature warms, most heating and air conditioning systems are getting a well deserved break. Hopefully your system survived the winter and is in peak fighting form for a scorching summer. To make sure it is, find time this Spring to look under the hood.

The two main causes of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit failure is poor maintenance and improper installation. The first can be easily addressed with regular TLC, and the latter quickly determined by heating and air conditioning contractors.

Maintaining your heating and air conditioning unit.

As with all aspects of a home, heating and air conditioning units require regular maintenance and inspection. Experts in the HVAC industry recommend having your system inspected once before Winter and Summer each year. With bi-annual maintenance, you’re far more likely to avoid costly repairs and see your heating and air conditioning systems reach the industry average lifespan of 10 to 15 years.

Research conducted by Energy Star found that the average American family spends $1,000 each year on heating and air conditioning. If you’re running on a system that’s out of date or not well-maintained, those costs will only go up. Improper airflow in a heating and air conditioning system, for instance, can reduce it’s efficiency by 15%. Similarly, a dirty evaporator or condenser coils will run up your energy bill by hindering your unit’s ability to keep your home at the temperature you like. It’s best to have your system inspected for dirty air filters, coils, and signs of damage on a monthly basis.

If it’s hard to fathom inspecting your unit each month, at least be aware of some of the major signs of trouble. Here are four of the most common signs your heating and air conditioning unit needs maintenance or repair.

Signs your heating and air conditioning unit needs maintenance.

  • A discolored air filter

    Central air conditioning filters allergens and dust from the air. If your air filter has begun to change color, it’s time to replace it. You should plan to replace your heating and air conditioning air filter every two months to prevent dust and allergen build up.
  • A high energy bill

    If your energy bill seems high, it may be time for an upgrade. The U.S. Energy Department found that switching from an older central heating and air conditioning system to a high efficiency one can reduce energy cost by 20 to 50%. Even something as simple as having a variable speed pump installed on your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning unit could reduce your energy bill by up to 40%.
  • Temperature swings

    If your heating and air conditioning system is struggling to keep your house at the temperature you chose, it could mean a dirty air filter or coils. It could also be be the refrigerant. A unit with too much or too little refrigerant could function poorly or irregularly.
  • It doesn’t fit right
    The size of your heating and air conditioning unit can make a huge impact on your monthly energy costs. An over sized unit will severely increase your costs. Replacing a poorly fit system with one of the right size can reduce your costs by 20%. To help you determine if your heating and air conditioning unit is the right size, look at the clear space around it. An outdoor unit should have two feet of clear space on all sides. This is not only necessary to prevent blockages that would hurt its efficiency, but also to prevent fire hazards.

Regular inspections and maintenance are essential to keeping your heating and air conditioning unit in top form. It’s best to inspect your HVAC system every month for dirty filters and coils and signs of damage. Your system’s air filter should be changed out every two months. At the very least, aim to have your heating and air conditioning system tested for issues once before Summer and once before Winter. Having bi-annual minor heating and air repair and maintenance will help prevent far more costly system failures. And there would be nothing worse than having it fail when you need it the most.