3 Indications Your Home’s AC Didn’t Weather The Winter Unscathed

You probably don't think much about your air conditioner over the winter, but that doesn't mean it remains in perfect stasis. A lot can happen to your air conditioner over the year's colder months. Your outdoor condenser unit is perfectly vulnerable since it must weather rapidly changing temperatures, driving rains, and heavy snow.

While everyone hopes their air conditioner will turn on and flawlessly run once temperatures rise, the reality isn't always so kind. Recognizing problems early on can allow you to address them before your AC stops working on the hottest days of the year. If you've just turned on your air conditioner for the first time and noticed any of these three symptoms, it's probably time to contact an expert.

1. Unusual Condenser Noises

Your condenser is the outdoor unit that houses your condenser coils, compressor, condenser fan, and the electrical components necessary to run them. The loudest part in your condenser will almost always be the compressor. You'll typically hear your compressor starting whenever your AC cycles on, and the condenser fan should spin up simultaneously.

If you hear strange noises when your air conditioner turns on after a long winter, the condenser fan is the most likely culprit. The condenser fan helps release heat from the coils and cool the compressor. Strange noises might indicate an imbalance or damage to the fan from icicles or storm debris, and you should stop using your system until you can determine the source.

2. Short Cycling

Short cycling occurs when your air conditioner shuts down for any reason before satisfying your home's thermostat. Short cycling typically occurs when the compressor's internal safety triggers, often due to the compressor overworking itself. Your system might short cycle if the compressor is aging and beginning to fail, but a frozen evaporator coil is more likely to blame.

Evaporator coils may freeze due to restricted airflow, restricted refrigerant flow, or low refrigerant pressure. If you've recently changed your air filter, you probably have a refrigerant problem. A long winter can allow a slow refrigerant leak to drain your system, resulting in a freezing coil and system short cycling.

3. Tripped Circuit Breakers

Your circuit breaker should never trip while your air conditioner is running. Frequent trips indicate an urgent electrical issue with your system, but even a single tripped breaker is often a sign of trouble. If your system begins tripping breakers after the winter, it may be due to rodents or other pests entering the condenser unit housing.

The condenser unit can be an attractive nesting place for many pests, but it also contains the high-voltage wiring necessary to run the compressor. Rodents can chew on this wiring, creating a dangerous wiring short that will cause your home's circuit breaker to trip. You will need a professional to help you diagnose this problem, and you should never use an AC unit that keeps tripping its breaker.

For more information on AC services, contact a professional near you.