During the spring, summer, and fall in Hilton Head, South Carolina, the weather tends to be hot and humid. You need a working air conditioner to keep you comfortable and remove excess moisture from the air. If your air conditioner is showing any warning signs of developing problems, you should take action immediately. From compressor failure to moisture in and around the unit, learn to recognize the clues to an impending air conditioner breakdown and when to call for repairs.

Compressor Failure Warning Signs

If your air conditioner is pumping out warm air, there could be a problem with the compressor. The compressor maintains the correct pressure level and pumps refrigerant to cool the air. The air conditioner compressor cycles on and off continually, so the compressor is prone to wear out just like any other part of the system. 

Other signs of compressor failure include loud noises coming from the outdoor unit or a clutch within the component that won’t move when the system is running. Grinding or squealing sounds often occur when your compressor’s bearing is seizing. High-pitched squealing noises tend to come from worn-out belts.

You should never try to fix the compressor yourself.  It is one of the most expensive parts, so only skilled HVAC professionals should handle the repair, maintenance, or replacement of any part of a compressor.

The Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On

When your air conditioner won’t turn on at all, the system may not be getting power. Start by checking the thermostat to make sure it is set to cool. When the seasons change, you need to switch the thermostat accordingly. Many homeowners make this common mistake. As long as the thermostat is working and receives the right cues, it will respond as it should.

If your HVAC system is set to cool but still won’t engage when you lower the temperature, check the battery in your thermostat. If you need to replace the battery, the thermostat won’t be able to communicate with the system to start cooling the air. If the battery is good, try resetting the circuit breaker that controls your cooling system.

If none of these simple fixes resolve the air conditioning problem, call Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning. Your service tech will be able to make sure that the unit is receiving power and diagnose what may be causing the problem.

Another issue that could cause your air conditioner to stay off is a damaged sensor. The sensor within your cooling system determines the indoor temperatures in various rooms, then communicates with the main unit to turn on and start cooling the air. Without a functioning sensor, your HVAC system will not work properly since it won’t be able to gauge indoor temperatures correctly.

Check the Age of Your Cooling System

In some cases, reduced efficiency will result because of time, wear and tear. You can take advantage of newer versions which are much more efficient so that you can benefit from lower bills and improved energy consumption. If your air conditioner is more than 10 years old, your HVAC technician may recommend a system replacement. While replacing your HVAC system will come at a cost, you can start taking advantage of savings immediately in the form of reduced air conditioning bills. You may also qualify for federal and state tax credits if your new system meets energy efficiency requirements.

Don’t assume that high energy bills are the result of an inefficient HVAC system. You could see an increase in bills when the price of natural gas or electricity is on the rise in your area. Call your utility company to find out if rates have changed. Your service provider can also tell you whether you have had an increase in energy usage.

Look for Moisture In or Around the Unit

Repair leaks immediately. Ignoring leaks can lead to further system problems. Apart from a failing air conditioning system, high energy bills and damage to your home are also consequences. Some moisture from an air conditioner is normal, but puddles of water or condensation on the unit itself are cause for concern. Excess moisture within the cooling system can lead to mold growth. Fungi growth can cause serious health problems and other structural complications such as rotting building material.

What You Should Do During a Breakdown

If your air conditioner has stopped working, you will need to find ways to stay comfortable until the HVAC technician arrives. Staying cool may seem impossible during this time, especially if the breakdown occurs during the hottest part of the day. Your habits can make a difference in how you feel, so, until a technician repairs your air conditioner, avoid activities that add extra heat to your home.

Try to limit usage of appliances that produce heat. Instead of using the oven, use the microwave, or opt for salads or a meal that doesn’t require a long cooking time. Your clothes dryer and dishwasher also produce heat, so avoid using them during the day, when the temperatures are higher. Keep the lights off during the day, especially if you have heat-producing bulbs. Use ceiling fans for airflow.

If you can’t bear to stay indoors without air conditioning, head to the nearest pool or water park to cool down. You could also head to air-conditioned locations, such as a library, a movie theater, indoor play areas, or a coffee shop to escape the heat in your home.

Pay Attention to Increases in Utility Bills

Slight fluctuations in utility bills between months and seasons are to be expected. When temperatures are warmer outside, your air conditioner will have to work harder to keep up, resulting in more energy usage and higher monthly bills. However, a sharp increase often means that your unit isn’t operating efficiently. Inefficiency could result from several problems including a dirty air filter, so change your filters at least once every month or two.

Dirty ducts can also decrease efficiency since the system has to work harder to move conditioned air through ducts and vents. Clean air improves the airflow and your indoor air quality. Energy waste can also result from damage to ducts. Damaged ductwork will cause conditioned air to leak out before it reaches the vents. Some homeowners choose ductless systems to avoid this problem. If leaky ductwork is the reason, you’ll need to repair or replace all damaged sections.

Your Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning HVAC experts will be able to help you figure out why your bills are high. We will recommend repairs or a replacement to improve comfort and energy efficiency.

Prevent an Air Conditioner Breakdown

No one wants to deal with an air conditioner breakdown. This experience is frustrating and causes discomfort for everyone in the home. One of the easiest ways to prevent your AC from malfunctioning is to schedule regular air conditioner maintenance.

During a maintenance service call, your Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning technician will conduct a full inspection of your HVAC system. We offer comprehensive service and will look for damaged components or other factors that indicate a problem. Instead of waiting for the unit to malfunction, your technician will recommend repairs and maintenance services that will keep the system running smoothly and efficiently, even when the temperatures rise.

Some HVAC technicians are available only during regular business hours. When your air conditioner stops working on a hot, humid day in Hilton Head, SC, you probably won’t want to wait very long to get the problem resolved. At Byrd Heating and Air Conditioning, we offer emergency service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  We consider an air conditioner that stops working to be an emergency—especially when the temperature is soaring. Call us at 912-373-8447 to schedule a consultation for your home’s cooling system so that you can stay comfortable all summer.

Image provided by Shutterstock