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It's Time To Go Back To School with Air Conditioning 101!

ac outside home

Understanding the Basics of Your Air Conditioner

Air conditioners are common fixtures in much of the world - in most parts of America, it’s hard to find a home or business without an AC or another. But while air conditioners themselves may be common, general knowledge about them usually isn’t. Beyond operating the thermostat, most homeowners are in the dark about how their AC units work.

But it can be extremely valuable for every homeowner to have a basic understanding of their air conditioning system. It will help them troubleshoot issues, keep their unit in good shape, and make a more informed decision when it comes time to replace the unit. So homeowners can keep reading to learn everything they need to know about air conditioners!

Common Air Conditioner Types

ductless mini split

To understand the basics of air conditioners, it’s helpful to grasp the different types of AC systems available. Air conditioners come in many forms, but the two most common (especially in homes) are central and ductless systems.

Central air conditioning systems feature one large “air handler unit” that removes heat and moisture from the indoor air and distributes cool air throughout the home via a network of air ducts. The moisture trickles away down a drain line in condensation, while the captured heat is sent to an outdoor “condenser unit” and vented into the outdoor air.

A ductless air conditioner operates in the same way, except instead of one large air handler/condenser unit serving the entire home, each room has its own smaller air handler and condenser units. The air handler pumps cool air directly into the room instead of sending it through air ducts.

Ductless systems - often called mini-split air conditioners - tend to be more expensive to install but offer greater zone control and efficiency since each room’s temperature can be controlled independently. However, a central AC is usually the more economical option if the home already has existing ductwork.

How To Tell When an AC Unit Needs Repairing

signs of ac damage

No matter what type of air conditioner they have, every homeowner should know the symptoms of a failing AC unit. A few of the most common signs that something is wrong are if the house never gets cool, the AC is blowing warm air (or very little air), or the unit runs constantly but still fails to maintain the correct temperature.

Unusually high energy bills (which may or may not be accompanied by one or more of the above symptoms) often indicate that the AC is malfunctioning and consuming more power to meet the thermostat’s demands. Strange sounds (rattling, banging, screeching, hissing) or odors (mildew, mold, burning) coming from the unit may signal that it’s time to call for air conditioner repair.

AC Maintenance Basics

As important as it is to know the signs of AC trouble, it’s even better to know how to prevent problems from arising in the first place - and that’s where maintenance comes in. Air conditioner maintenance starts with regularly replacing the air filter, which homeowners can easily tackle on their own. The general rule of thumb is to replace the filter every 3 months, but if there are multiple pets or anyone with respiratory sensitivities in the home, more frequent changes may be a good idea.

Staying on top of air filter replacement is crucial, but it can only do so much. That’s why it’s imperative to have the unit routinely serviced by a professional. This typically involves inspecting the system, cleaning the unit, lubricating belts, and bearings, testing electrical systems, and ensuring the system is working properly. This helps reduce wear and tear, improve efficiency, and prevent minor issues from turning into major ones. Ideally, one should do this every spring to prepare the system for summer, but the sooner the better!

About 4 Seasons Heating & Cooling

The family-owned and operated 4 Seasons Heating & Cooling has been Reno’s go-to resource for all things HVAC since 2008. Their licensed, insured, and background-checked technicians always arrive in fully stocked trucks on time and leave every home better than they found it. 4 Seasons offers a 10-year parts and labor warranty and complimentary 2-year maintenance on all new installations. Call them today for air conditioner maintenance and repair in Reno, NV!

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