During a sweltering Australian summer nothing offers more relief than a well-functioning air conditioner. But if you’ve noticed lately that the airflow has diminished, your unit’s not cooling like it used to, or it’s started to make some very strange noises, then it’s definitely time for an air conditioning service.
However, if that’s been done recently and you’re still having problems, it’s worth remembering that like all appliances, air conditioning systems have a limited lifespan regardless of how often they’re maintained. So how do you know when to replace your air conditioner?
Sign #1 – The unit is blowing cold or hot air inconsistent to temperature settings
One of the most obvious signs that you need to repair or replace your air conditioner is when it just isn’t cooling or heating properly. Regular air levels may still be produced, however, if the air isn’t coming out (cool or hot) as per its settings, you know there’s a problem. During regular use and from time to time, you may experience some warmer air on a cool setting, however, if your unit stops producing cool air altogether, it’s time for some investigation. The cause could be due to low refrigerant levels, however warm air production when the unit’s set for cooling, ultimately indicates a more serious problem, such as a damaged compressor.
If the temperature of the air being produced is also inconsistent with the setting you’ve chosen, you may have to repair or consider replacing your unit as well. If certain rooms often become cold zones and other rooms don’t seem to get any cooler air at all, or your unit is producing hot and inconsistent air, it’s worth having your air conditioning technician inspect the valves, filters, coils and condensation drains. Worst-case scenario? You need a new unit.
Sign #2 – The unit has diminished airflow even after you’ve had the filters cleaned
Significant decreases in airflow are another sign that your air conditioner may be faulty. If your thermostat is set to a reasonable temperature and there is little or no air coming out of the vents or your home is still too warm, then your air conditioning unit is simply not working at its optimum level. Book in an air conditioning service call and a thorough filter clean, and if you’re still experiencing the same issues, there could be a problem with your unit’s compressor, in which case, yep, it’s time for a new air conditioning system!
Sign #3 – The unit is making strange noises or giving off strange emissions
If your air conditioning system is functioning correctly it should operate almost silently, so if you start to hear noises that are outside of the norm, it’s definitely time to have your air conditioner serviced. Minor noise changes can simply mean air conditioner repairs are in order – it could be that the fan isn’t working properly, an internal mechanism is clogged, or something inside the unit has become loose. However, if the noises are stranger and louder (like buzzing, rattling, grating or screeching), it could indicate a serious problem and you may need to replace your air conditioner.
The same goes for unusual emissions. Foul odours can mean that your unit’s insulation is damaged or that the ductwork is dirty or mouldy. Dirt, mildew and mould inside the unit can easily circulate contaminated air throughout your home, which can be a serious health risk to you and your family. The problem could be that the filter just needs replacing, however, if the problem is long-term or extreme, it’s time for a new unit.
Sign #4 – The unit is leaking or producing excess moisture
Some air conditioners naturally emit small amounts of condensation, which often results in water dripping from the unit (outside of the house). For the most part, however, your air conditioning unit should stay dry regardless of whether it’s in use or not, and there should be no moisture inside the house, no leaks, and no sudden increases in condensation. Your safest option here is to book in for an air conditioning service as soon as possible, as your unit could be posing a significant safety risk (because we all know that electricity and water definitely don’t mix!) Some units may spring refrigerant leaks, which can also be a health risk, so this type of issue also needs to be investigated by a professional technician. They will promptly locate the source of the leak and advise on whether a new air conditioner is the best source of action.
Sign #5 – Your energy bills are unexpectedly and dramatically increasing
During certain times of the year you will often see changes in your energy bills due to your heating and cooling usage, however if your bills suddenly spike, you’ve investigated other factors that may have caused the increase, and all signs point to your air conditioner, it may be time to book your air conditioning technician in to conduct an audit. Diminished cool capacity can lead to major increases in energy costs because your unit is actually struggling to maintain its desired temperature ineffectively. Your technician will probably replace your filters, clean the air
vents, check for knots or lumps in the condensation coil, and if all else fails, you may need to replace your air conditioner.
Air conditioning systems should ideally be serviced once a year to keep them clean and well maintained, and it’s quite normal to expect the odd minor repair or part replacement once in a while. However if your unit consistently needs repairs and/or your warranty has expired, the system simply won’t be running efficiently and it will be adding to what is probably an already increasing energy bill. Time to replace it!