Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Troubleshooting a Window-Mounted Air Conditioner

In homes that do not have central HVAC systems, window air conditioners provide great relief especially when summer is at its peak. Window air conditioners, just like other comfort systems, are susceptible to damage, if they are not maintained well. 

Maintenance and periodic cleaning are essential for all home appliances. They are the health mantras for the long, efficient, and problem-free lives of your home comfort systems. Those of you who have wall-mounted window air conditioners have a set of tasks to perform. These, if neglected, can make a hole in your pocket and cause a lot of inconvenience as well. 

There are some HVAC problems that you can fix yourself. All you may need to do is some troubleshooting. If problem solving is something you would rather not do, troubleshooting will help you in narrowing down the potential problems, helping you make informed decisions about repair or replacement.

Common Problems in Window Air Conditioners

1. The air conditioner does not turn on 

If you experience problems when you turn on your window air conditioner, i.e. if your window air conditioner refuses to start up, check if it is receiving power. Try unplugging and plugging it again. Next, you could try plugging it in a different socket. Check the same socket with another appliance to ensure power is passing through. If you are still having problems, check your circuit breaker. If there is power, there could be problems in any of the related components in the unit, such as wiring, compressor, thermostat, selector switch or control board. Please call a professional HVAC technician to handle these. 

2. The fan does not blow out cold air

If there is no cold air blowing out from the system, but the fan is running, you need to check if the thermostat is set correctly. If this is okay, check the compressor motor, which is situated inside the air conditioner, in the form of a small case. If the compressor makes a humming nose continuously, there could be a problem in the condenser, or the evaporator or the compressor itself. Another option is that the motor may be broken. Here again, you will need a licensed technician to fix the problem. 

3. The air conditioner does not blow out cold enough air

If you feel that after having kept your air conditioner on for a few minutes, the air that is blowing out is not cold enough, you will first need to check the temperature of the air. This can be done with a simple thermometer. If you notice that the temperature of the air going in is 15° higher than that of the air that is blowing out, you can conclude that the unit is doing more work than it is capable of. This is not a good sign.
On the other hand, if the difference is less than 15°, check if the air damper is open. Next, check the back cover, which may have been forgotten after the winter has passed. Finally, you need to check the condensing coils. For this, remove the cover of the air conditioner and clean the coils with a soft brush.

4. The coils are freezing 
 
This problem could be due to a dirty air filter. Dirt that accumulates on the air filter restricts the air flow to the evaporator coils. This reduction in the airflow makes the evaporator too cold. This causes humidity inside the room, which causes condensation and the coils freeze. When coils freeze, further problem is caused as there is reduced airflow because of the frost. 

5. Water leaks out of the air conditioner 

When you notice water at the base of the air conditioning unit, the main reason could be improper installation. You could try to tilt the system backwards a little. This will allow the water to drain away. Window air conditioners are known for water collection water at the base of the unit. 

Being aware of these troubleshooting tips will help you in detecting the problem and deciding on the need to call a HVAC professional. Some of these common problems can be fixed by the average homeowner, for some a technician may be required.

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