What is Considered an AC Emergency? (by HVAC Repair Pros)

May 7, 2021

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If you’re a homeowner, you might have asked yourself at least once in the past few years, what is considered an AC emergency? Obviously, an air conditioner that you cannot get to operate no matter what you do needs emergency repair, but this isn’t the only time you’ll want to call a 24/7 HVAC repair contractor!

An air conditioner that doesn’t cycle on, that smells like it’s burning, or that blows lukewarm air throughout the home needs immediate service. Loud thumping, grinding, squealing, and other sounds can also indicate severe damage that requires immediate attention!

what is considered an AC emergency

A homeowner should also schedule repairs as quickly as possible if the home’s air conditioner is acting up during overly warm, humid days. A hot and stuffy house is not just uncomfortable; it can be downright dangerous! Heat and humidity can make you drowsy during the day while interfering with nighttime sleep, and also result in headaches, mood disorders, and dehydration. Trapped humidity can also risk wood rot and mold growth in the home!

To ensure you’re always keeping your home’s HVAC system in good repair, note a few signs that it’s time to call a 24/7 emergency HVAC contractor. You might also consider some indicators that your air conditioner or furnace needs routine repairs, although not necessarily emergency services, and when it’s time to consider replacing that unit altogether.

What Is Considered an AC Emergency?

air conditioning emergency repairs

Knowing what is considered an AC emergency and why these issues indicate the need for immediate repairs is vital for keeping your HVAC unit in good condition. Check out a bit more information about AC emergency services!

  • If your home’s air conditioner doesn’t cycle on, first check the circuit breaker to see if you’ve tripped the circuit. There is also typically a second breaker for central units, installed outside the home close to the compressor; note if that breaker has been tripped as well.
  • If the circuits haven’t been tripped but your air conditioner still refuses to cycle on, this might indicate a failed motor. That motor works to operate the blower, which pulls air from interior spaces and runs it over the compressor, which pulls heat from that air and then cycles it back into your home. A failed motor won’t operate the blower, so the unit won’t cycle on.
  •  If you hear a humming sound coming from the compressor unit but the blower fan blades don’t spin, this can indicate a working motor but a failed blower. There might also be a broken belt between the motor and blower! That humming might be the motor operating, but if the blower itself is broken, or if the belt that connects the motor and blower is torn, those blades won’t spin and circulate air as they should.
  • Burning smells can indicate worn wiring or something caught in the area of the blower so that the unit now struggles to work. If you notice a burning smell when you switch on your home’s air conditioner, switch it off immediately and call for emergency repairs, to prevent severe damage and even an electrical fire!
  • When an air conditioner cycles on but blows lukewarm or warm air rather than cool air, this often indicates a damaged compressor. Compressing coolant is what draws heat from the air, cooling it before it’s circulated back into the home.
  • In some cases, lukewarm air can indicate a compressor leak and low refrigerant levels.
  • Thumping and grinding noises often indicate something caught inside the unit. A homeowner might switch off the circuit breakers and unplug the unit and then open the top screen to see if there is anything inside you can fish out safely; if not, call for emergency repairs!
  • Worn bearings often create high-pitched squealing noises. These bearings allow moving parts to operate freely; using the AC with worn bearings can risk further damage to the blower and other parts.
  • Damaged belts also tend to squeal as they turn. If a belt should snap, the motor won’t be able to power the blower and your AC unit will simply shut down.
  • A damaged thermostat or worn wiring can also stop an AC from cycling on or off properly. Recalibrating or replacing the thermostat or wiring can get the air conditioner working again quickly!

Is a Leaking AC an Emergency?

leaking air conditioning repair

When an air conditioner doesn’t cool the home as expected, homeowners often assume low or leaking refrigerant is the issue. However, a malfunctioning AC can be the result of a variety of issues, as mentioned above. Your unit might have plenty of refrigerant, but if the motor or other parts are not functioning properly, the AC might simply circulate lukewarm air throughout your home.

Note, too, that AC refrigerant doesn’t get used up, “burn up,” or otherwise evaporate over time. The compressor holding the refrigerant is self-contained; it doesn’t vent or otherwise release this refrigerant as it operates. If an air conditioner repair contractor notes low refrigerant levels in your unit, this often indicates a damaged compressor and leak that needs repairs before the refrigerant is recharged or refilled.

Leaking refrigerant should be addressed as quickly as possible. Not only will more refrigerant leak the longer you ignore needed repairs, but refrigerant is not healthy for the environment.

AC refrigerant can also be expensive to replace, and most AC repair contractors charge homeowners according to how much refrigerant their unit needs for replacement. To avoid otherwise unnecessary repair costs, schedule repairs at the first sign of damage or a malfunctioning AC.

Does My AC Need Repairs?

air conditioning companies doing emergency repairs

In addition to odd noises and burning smells, and blowing warm air through the home’s vents, there are some added signs to watch out for when it comes to AC repair. Knowing when your HVAC unit needs repairs can ensure you keep it in good condition and running optimally.

  • If your home’s air conditioner seems to cycle off too quickly, or stays on far longer than it should, this can indicate a damaged thermostat that needs recalibrating. If the thermostat cannot read interior temperatures properly, it will shut down the unit prematurely or keep it running longer than it should.
  • Air conditioners vent heat from their compressor unit. If the unit does not have proper air circulation or its vents are blocked, the unit might then overheat easily and shut down prematurely.
  • Air conditioners remove humidity as well as heat from the air. If your home feels cool but clammy or otherwise overly humid, this can also indicate a malfunctioning thermostat or worn wiring between it and the AC unit itself.
  • An air conditioner struggling to operate will often draw more power than usual; in turn, you might notice a spike in utility costs, even if you don’t cycle on the system more often than usual.
  • Undersized or underpowered air conditioners tend to cycle on and stay on for long periods of time, but without providing proper cooling throughout your interior spaces. If you notice that your home never seems cool enough, or that some spaces don’t get cool at all, despite the unit cycling on for long periods of time, it might be time for repairs or replacement!

Avoiding AC Repair Costs

As with all home appliances, your air conditioner will need eventual repairs no matter how well you maintain it. Parts simply wear down over time, and harsh weather, pests, and other factors can damage outside compressor units as well.

ac emergency repairs

However, a homeowner can often avoid otherwise unnecessary AC repair costs by ensuring they’re protecting the unit from damage as much as possible. Note what is meant by that and how you can keep AC repair costs low.

  • One simple tip is to change the furnace filter often, even once a month during peak HVAC usage! Your home’s air conditioner and furnace both pull air through that filter; if the filter is clogged, the HVAC system will work harder to operate and suffer a premature breakdown.
  • Ensure your air conditioner has space for venting hot air. A blind, fence, or another cover should sit at least one foot away from the unit.
  • Keep the grilles along the front of your compressor unit cleaned as well, for proper venting. Brush away any grass clippings, leaves, twigs, and other debris from its front as often as needed.
  • Central air conditioners also have a tube for draining condensation. If that tube is clogged, the unit might freeze over and stop working. Clean the front of the tube as needed, to ensure proper draining.

Regular, professional HVAC maintenance is also an excellent investment in keeping your home’s AC in good working order. Regular maintenance typically includes a check of all belts and other moving parts, thermostat checks and calibration, and thorough cleaning. A maintenance call can also spot worn and damaged parts that need repairs before they shut down the unit altogether!

Signs for AC Replacement

ac replacement

A new air conditioner can be a costly investment for some homeowners, but there are times when it’s needed or even a better choice than repairing your current appliance. Note a few factors to consider when deciding if it’s time for repair or replacement of your air conditioner or furnace.

Size of the current unit

An undersized or underpowered unit might run incessantly but still not cool your home, as said. Cycling on too often or running too long means added wear and tear on the unit as well as increased utility bills.

On the other hand, an oversized unit might cycle off too quickly, before it can remove humidity as well as heat. Your home might then feel cool but clammy and uncomfortable. If your current air conditioner is not properly sized for your home, take the opportunity to replace it as soon as you can, to keep energy costs low and ensure a cool, comfortable environment.

Age of the current unit

While your current appliance might be repairable, note if it’s reaching the end of its expected lifespan. If so, you might face repair after repair, and then need to replace it in a few years anyway! Investing in a new unit rather than repairing an older appliance can actually be more cost-effective in the long run and will also mean a reliable appliance that should operate for years without issue.

Choosing an upgraded and energy-efficient model

new air conditioning replacement

Even if your current HVAC system functions properly, consider some advantages of upgrading to a brand-new appliance. Today’s HVAC systems are more energy-efficient than ever before, so you might see a reduction in your energy costs or be able to use the system more often without increasing your electric bills!

Today’s HVAC systems also offer added features that can improve comfort levels in the home and even enhance your safety! Some systems are equipped with sensors that note elevated levels of radon or other pollutants, and which can alert you when the furnace or air purifier filter needs changing.

Remote operations also allow for a more comfortable environment. A system connected to an app on your smartphone allows you to switch on the AC or furnace before you arrive home, so your interior spaces are perfectly comfortable right when you walk through the door! If you forget to adjust your thermostat before leaving the house, you can use those remote operations as well, and not waste electricity.

Will you be putting your home on the market soon?

At first glance, it might not make sense to invest in an upgraded HVAC system for a home you might put on the market sometime soon, but consider that an old, outdated air conditioner and furnace can turn away potential buyers easily. Many homebuyers might also lower their offers considerably to compensate for both the time needed to replace those appliances and their cost!

new air conditioner

Choosing new appliances now typically ensures that they’re operational and in good condition when you’re ready to sell your home. You’ll then attract more potential buyers willing to pay a higher cost than if you put your home on the market with an outdated HVAC system.

24/7 AC Repair Austin is happy to provide this information to our visitors and we hope it helped you better understand what is considered an AC emergency. If you need HVAC repair for your home or business, call our trusted Austin AC repair contractors! We offer over 20 years of industry experience and provide a full guarantee for all our services. To find out more, give us a call today.

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