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Troubleshooting Your Air Conditioner

It’s coming. You can feel summer in the air … and with it, the heat!  Last year, heat waves made things uncomfortable for air-conditionermany people and downright stressful for some air conditioning systems.  This year, we can probably look forward to similar conditions, so it’s a good time to be thinking about what you can do to make the season easier on your HVAC, and your wallet. If you use your Sandbridge cottage as a vacation rental properly functioning AC can help you avoid upset guests who may demand monetary compensation if a problem persists for a extended period.

Problems with air conditioning systems can be caused by several types of malfunctions. Modern systems place a large, metal box outside your home.
This is the condenser.  It’s where the refrigerant and evaporator coil combine to process and cool heat from the inside of the house.

So, if you’re having a problem keeping cool, here are some things to check:

  1. Check to make sure the thermostat is correctly set. Of course, it probably is set correctly, but check it anyway. You can save yourself some embarrassment by doing so.
  2. Next, check your electrical panel for tripped breakers or blown fuses.
  3. Examine your system, inside and out.  If you notice frost or ice on any of the equipment, shut the system down. You’re going to need a professional at this point.
  4. Make sure all outside equipment is clean and has a free flow of air around it.
  5. Pools of water near the equipment could be a sign of blockage in the drainage tubes. Algae are a common cause and can be removed with a bleach solution.

Filters are one of the key points where you can save yourself a lot of headaches. Air drawn in by the air conditioner for cooling passes through air filters to remove dust and other particulates. A dirty filter causes the system to have to work harder, resulting in less cooling, higher electricity bills and potential damage to the equipment.  The lower air flow can cause your evaporator coils to ice-up and completely block air flow. Filters should be replaced more frequently in houses that sleep large groups, my houses sleep 18 and at full occupancy the filters can become really dirty in a week. Siebert Realty provides filter changing service. Some housekeepers will replace the filters if you provide a supply of filters in an accessible closet. In rental service don’t spend money on the expensive filters which claim to last longer, they actually become cogged quicker.

The evaporator may be inside your home, perhaps in a closet or an attic.  Since you’ll want to regularly change the air filter, also make sure the area around the equipment is clear with nothing blocking or interfering with the system. Twice (if you use your house year round) yearly preventative maintenance are a good investment, be sure they check to be sure the condensate drain lines are clear.

The condenser unit, typically on the side of your home, needs to be kept clean as well. You’ll need to cut back grass, weeds and shrubs that may impede the flow of air.  A dirty condenser here at the beach needs to be hosed off to remove salt spray, which causes premature rusting.  This should be done with the system off.   Additionally, you’ll want to be sure that your condenser unit is mounted level for best operation.  If you are selling, these are issues certain to be noted by your buyer’s home inspector.

Should you elect to have a professional HVAC technician at your home, be sure to ask questions.Find out as much as you can about the unique nature of your system. For example, ask where the filters are located and what type of filter is right for your home.  Keeping your HVAC system clean and functioning well is certainly important for anyone trying to sell their home, and should obviously be of concern when buying a home. So take care of it now before it gets too expensive … or too hot and uncomfortable as the summer months progress!

If you need a professional and don’t know one, please contact me. I can refer one that is close by.

Charlie Kelly
Realtor, MBA
SIEBERT REALTY – The Beach People
601 Sandbridge Road Virginia Beach, VA  23456
(757) 355-2233
[email protected]

Charlie Kelly is your ultimate real estate resource for Sandbridge and surrounding areas. Visit my website for detailed information regarding today’s real estate market