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6 Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs AC Maintenance

6 Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs AC Maintenance

Did you know that from 1980 to 2016, more than 4,000 cases of hyperthermia occurred in Missouri? It's a potentially life-threatening condition caused by an abnormal increase in body temperature. The chief cause is extreme heat, which in MO, including St. Louis, is quite common.  Let's talk about AC maintenance.

St. Louis health experts recommend staying in cool areas during hot days. That includes air-conditioned places, such as the comfort of your home.

The thing is, a lack of AC maintenance can make you end up with a non-working space cooler. If this happens, your home can become just as hot or even feel hotter than the outdoors.

There's still a bit of good news, though: your AC will likely exhibit a few cues and hints before it breaks down.

With that said, be on the lookout for the signs listed in this guide. Then, get your AC serviced right away as soon as you notice them.

1. Thermostat Setting Doesn't Reflect What Your Home Feels Like

woman cooling herself

You can think of the thermostat as the "boss" of your entire air conditioning system. It's the critical component enabling your AC to control the temperature.

Despite its small size, the thermostat is what triggers the air conditioner to cycle on and off. It senses the temperature in the room, and from there, tells the AC to either run or stop.

The thermostat triggers the air conditioner to run if the temperature is lower than what it's set at. Once the temperature reaches this setting, the thermostat signals the AC to stop.

For a thermostat to do its job right, it must be accurate and properly calibrated. By contrast, a thermostat that loses its calibration can take incorrect temperature readings.

Let's say you set your thermostat to at least 78° F in the summer, as advised by the experts at the University of Missouri. Unfortunately, if the thermostat is inaccurate, it may "think" that the temp in the room is already 78° F, when in fact, it's still above the 80s. As a result, your thermostat's wrong readings can make your AC cycle off sooner, so your home won't get cool enough.

In such cases, it's best to schedule your air conditioner for maintenance. HVAC experts can determine if your thermostat is accurate, and if not, re-calibrate it. You can also opt to replace an old, manual thermostat with a programmable or smart thermostat.

2. Your Air Conditioner Frequently Turns On and Off

An inaccurate thermostat can also make your air conditioner cycle on and off more than usual. Known as short-cycling, this issue can cause an AC to run for shorter periods, only to turn back on after a few minutes. For that reason, a thermostat that loses its calibration and misreads the temp can also be a culprit.

If your AC cycles on and off at intervals of less than five minutes, it likely is short-cycling. As a result, your air conditioner may need repairs, or you may only need to have the thermostat adjusted.

In any case, it's time to schedule an AC tune-up, as short cycling can lead to higher energy bills. More than that, the increased cycles can also place more strain on your unit, cutting its life short.

3. Your AC Blows Out Warm Air

A bad thermostat can again cause this problem with the inaccurate temp readings it takes. In addition, a faulty thermostat can also activate the heating mode in AC units with this function.

Another possible culprit is a filthy air conditioner filter, which impedes airflow. Filters help keep air conditioner components free of dust and debris so that they can get dirty over time. How long this can take depends on where you live, too; faster, if you live in an area with polluted air.

Now, keep in mind that many parts of Missouri, including St. Louis, have air pollution problems. The most recent State of the Air Report gave St. Louis a grade F for its poor air quality.

The dirtier an AC filter, the less air that gets in and out of the system. As a result, you may feel as if your air conditioner is blowing out warm air.

Dirty coils inside your air conditioner can also be a culprit behind the warm air the unit blows. For example, residue build-up on the evaporator coils can make your AC unable to draw out the heat from warm air. If this happens, your AC won't cool the air, so it will only blow warm air back into your space.

Warm air isn't always an indication you need AC repairs, but it does mean you need AC maintenance. It's best to schedule yours as soon as possible; otherwise, you'll have to endure MO's hot and humid summer. Plus, your AC's motor can overheat, which, in turn, can lead to system failure.

4. Sniffles and Sneezes Abound

man sneezing

According to researchers, malfunctioning HVAC systems can increase indoor air pollution. For example, clogged vents can become ineffective in circulating air in and out of your home. This may then result in stale, polluted air being unable to exit your home.

Ill-maintained air conditioners can also pave the way for poor indoor air quality. One way this can happen is if your AC's air filter becomes too dirty. Dust and debris can get airborne again and mix with the cool air produced by your air conditioning unit.

Either way, having poor indoor air quality can give rise to air conditioning sickness. This malady can cause symptoms like sniffles, coughs, and sneezing. It may also result in eyes, nose, and respiratory irritation.

In addition, improperly maintained air conditioners could trigger allergies and asthma. Again, this can happen if your AC starts to harbor dust, debris, and allergens such as molds, pollen, and dust mites. Now, keep in mind that allergies affect about 50 million people in the US, while about 24 million have asthma.

If anyone in your household exhibits symptoms only when at home, your air conditioner may be a factor. Take this as a sign you need prompt AC maintenance.

For extra protection, consider investing in a whole-house air purifier, such as iWave. This device eliminates contaminants and pollutants present in indoor air. It then sends the clean, fresh air back into your home.

In a way, air purifiers also help make your air conditioner's job, especially its filter, easier. After all, your AC's filter will have fewer air pollutants to catch and trap. This then reduces the risk of dust and debris contaminating the inside of your AC unit.

5. Weak Airflow

This is different from the AC blowing out warm air; you'll still feel the cool air from the AC. However, the force of the air itself will be weak, so it might not travel far. As a result, the area in front of your AC may feel cool enough, but spots further away may feel warm.

One of the top culprits behind this issue is a residue-ridden air conditioner. The dirtier your AC's air filter, vents, or grilles, the weaker its airflow will get.

So, if you experience hot and cold spots while running the AC, call an HVAC specialist. Your AC most likely needs not only a fresh air filter but a thorough deep-cleaning job, too.

6. Your AC Emits Funky or Foul Smells

African american woman smelling something stinky and disgusting


A bad odor coming from the air conditioner can signify molds, bacteria, or even dead critters. Your AC can harbor molds and bacteria due to the presence of moisture. You might also notice your air conditioner leaking water aside from the musty smell.

In the situation above, the excess moisture can come from a clogged or overflowing AC drain pan. After all, this pan collects the water droplets formed by warm air touching your AC's cold coils. So if it gets clogged, the water won't drain, and instead, keep collecting enough to overflow.

Those are optimal conditions for mold and bacterial growth.

Critters, such as bugs and even small rodents, can also make their way into your air conditioner. If they die inside the AC, their decaying bodies can give off a nasty, putrid odor. The stench can travel all over your home as soon as you turn the AC on.

Your AC should never give off foul smells, so if it does, it's time to call in the HVAC pros.

Keep Cool and Safe With Prompt AC Maintenance Services

There you have it, your guide to the signs indicating you need AC maintenance as soon as possible. Please don't ignore these cues, as they usually precede a complete system failure. Besides, the sooner you get your AC tuned up, the more protected you can be from heat illnesses.

Ready to get your air conditioner deep-cleaned and serviced? Then please know that our team of experienced HVAC pros here at Crystal Heating & Cooling can help! Get in touch with us now to book your AC maintenance schedule.

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