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3 Common Causes of an Inefficient Air Conditioner

Maintaining a cool home ranks as a high priority for those who live in regions with hot summers. As temperatures continue to climb in the coming months, you'll rely more and more heavily on the comfort your air conditioner provides. A problematic or poorly maintained unit will quickly show its true colors as cooling demands grow.

A general lack of cooling power is one of the most common complaints regarding residential air conditioners. No matter how long your system runs, your home may never seem to get down to the desired temperature. If this sounds familiar to you, then keep reading. This article will outline three common sources of such air conditioning inefficiency.

1. An Obstructed Condensing Unit

The condensing unit located in your yard is responsible for the reconditioning your refrigerant after each cooling cycle. The motorized compressor increases the pressure to help the hot, gaseous refrigerant flow on to the condenser coil. The condenser coil displaces much of the refrigerant's heat, allowing it to return to its liquid state.

A condenser cools refrigerant by increasing its exposure to outdoor air. Because the refrigerant has a higher temperature than the air, heat naturally moves out of the refrigerant. In order for this transfer to work effectively, the condenser must have access to a steady flow of air.

Air flows in through the sidewalls of your condensing unit. This air flows around the condenser coil and then moves upward out of the unit, with the help of the fan mounted on top.
However, if the sidewalls of the condensing unit are blocked, even this fan won't be able to keep airflow within acceptable limits.

For this reason, you should never store lawn equipment too close to the condensing unit. Likewise, keep bushes and shrubs several feet away. All sides of the condensing unit should be unobstructed by vegetation or objects. Anything blocking the flow of air will reduce the condenser coil's efficiency, leading to less effective cooling inside of your home.

2. A Dirty Condenser Coil

Even an unobstructed condenser unit can have inefficient cooling if the condenser coil becomes excessively dirty. Dirt and grime will naturally accumulate on the coil as time goes on, given its exposure to the elements. As this layer of dirt grows ever deeper, it will insulate the coil.

The refrigerant in an excessively dirty coil will have a much harder cooling down, even with the air passing through the unit. The refrigerant will thus have to make extra passes through the condenser coil in order to change back to a liquid. Even then, the temperature of the refrigerant might be higher than desired. 

A dirty condenser coil ultimately makes it harder for your air conditioner to cool your home. In addition, your system will be forced to run for longer periods of time. This means you'll have progressively poorer cooling - and progressively higher energy bills - until you get your condenser coil cleaned.

3. Leaking Refrigerant

Refrigerant leaks undermine the ability of your air conditioner to properly cool your home. Even the tiniest of holes will eventually allow critical amounts of refrigerant to escape. The lower your refrigerant level, the harder your system will have to work. Meanwhile, the conditions in your home will grow steadily warmer.

A refrigerant leak is one of the most frustrating problems an air conditioner can develop because holes can form in numerous places. If you suspect that your system may be suffering from a leak, then be sure to contact a reputable technician as soon as possible. For more information about how to keep your AC operating at peak efficiency, please contact the cooling experts at Alabama Climate Control, Inc.

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