Does My AC Need to Be Repaired or Replaced? Four Warning Signs

Here’s how to know right away if you need to call someone to look at your air conditioner. And, if you need to think about replacing it. Four problem signs are:
  • Electric Bill Keeps Going Up
  • Strange Smells or Sounds
  • Coolant Leak
  • Old Unit or Frequent Repairs

This summer, your AC is likely even more essential than ever before. For now, we’re all hunkering down and staying in our homes as much as possible.

And, as the weather gets warmer, we’ll rely on our cooling systems to keep us comfortable. That same system will also help improve our indoor air quality by cycling air in and out.

That circulation likely won’t have much of an effect on the COVD-19 virus, but it will certainly help get rid of other pollutants and allergens.

So, you want to make sure it’s in excellent working shape. To help, here are some warning signs to watch for. If you notice these, get to the bottom of them before the problem gets worse.

But, before we go into these points specifically, we do want to mention how a little preparation can avoid these problems entirely.

Air Conditioner Tune-Ups

We’ve written about the benefits of air conditioner tune-ups before. But, when we’re talking about AC problems, it’s worth mentioning again.

A tune-up falls under preventative maintenance: Getting your system fixed up and optimized before there’s a problem, not once it’s too late.

Maintenance makes a big difference. In the long term, you’ll go a few more years without having to invest in a new system. And, each year, it will work more efficiently, saving you money on your electric bill.

And, when it comes to comfort and your stress level, a tune-up goes a long way. A professional looks over the system, cleans it out, and replaces anything broken or worn down. This way, the system is less likely to break down or do a crummy job keeping you cool.

Of course, if you’re already experiencing some of the problems we mention here, it’s time to call in a pro before you lose your cooling completely.

Electric Bill Keeps Going Up

Usually, the first sign you may be heading for an AC breakdown is when it needs more electricity than usual to do its job.

You’re probably used to seeing a spike on your utility bill once you turn on the system for the summer. But, if it’s been steeper than usual, it could be a sign of problems with the system.

It may be hard to track unless you can go back through your bills. But, a smart thermostat makes all the difference here.

The newest wifi-enabled smart devices track your energy usage and make it easy to see in reports. It’ll also let you know if there’s a sudden jump.

Meanwhile, other problems are more immediately noticeable.

Strange Sound or Smells

Your AC should not make bangs, rattles, vibrations, or other weird sounds. Likewise, the smell of urine or rotten eggs is a reason to call a professional.

We’ll break these down a little further.

Strange Sounds from Your Air Conditioner

Generally speaking, rattles and extreme vibrating are signs that your cooling system is working too hard. For whatever reason, it’s unable to cool your house with the normal amount of effort.

So, it’s kicking into overdrive, so to speak, to push past whatever problem it’s experiencing.

This is like the canary in a coal mine.

For now, you may still get the cool air you want. But, eventually, something’s going to bust, burn out, or otherwise break down.

The next step here is the system shutting down earlier than it should. Even if it kicks back on, you’ll start to notice higher temperatures and more humidity.

At that point, a breakdown is on the horizon. So, you want to get ahead of that problem.

Air Conditioner Smells Like Pee or Rotten Eggs

Any strange smell coming through the vents from your air conditioner is cause for concern. But, it’s also helpful to know what’s causing it as soon as possible.

A rotten egg smell has nothing to do with food. Instead, it’s a sign an animal is stuck somewhere in the system. And, it’s passed away.

So, turn off your system if you notice this smell. You don’t want it to get worse. Nor do you want to spread any bacteria, germs, or any other organic waste.

Smelling something like pee or urine from your air conditioner could be one of two things: Mold or a coolant leak.

When it comes to mold, you’re actually smelling mycotoxins or the byproducts of the mold. But, it’s usually a toxic strain. So, you want to get a professional to look at it quickly.

Some people report smelling ammonia rather than urine. Both usually have the same root cause.

Meanwhile, if you have an older system, the smell could be a coolant leak. Sometimes, freon has the same smell as it escapes your system.

A few years ago, that might not have been too big of a concern. Now, however, there’s an extra factor to consider.

Coolant Leak

R22 freon was the coolant in air conditioners for decades. But, the government began phasing it out in 2010. Now, no manufacturers can produce anymore.

So, there’s a limited supply out there. If you have a tiny leak and we catch it early, there’s a chance we can recharge your system. Or, we can use recycled R22 in a small amount.

But, if the leak is substantial, it’s time for a new system.

As a consolation, you’d likely need a new AC soon, anyway. All air conditioners built in the last decade used a new coolant. So, yours must be older than ten years old.

Of course, it’s still frustrating to make that investment when you’re not ready to put out that kind of money. But, it likely wasn’t that far off, anyway. And, a newer system will run more efficiently than an old one.

Old Unit or Frequent Repairs

Have you had your air conditioner for more than a decade? And, have you needed to call us more often over the past few summers for repairs?

If so, you don’t necessarily need a new unit right away. But you should be prepared to make that investment.

Older units, especially ones that have needed more frequent repairs, are due for a breakdown. And, at that point, it may not be cost-effective to repair it again.

Of course, we’ll do everything we can to help you save money. But, if the cost to repair doesn’t add up when you consider the cost and benefits of a new unit, we’ll let you know.

Remember: another repair now doesn’t mean you won’t need to call us again in a few weeks. That’s especially so if you’ve had regular trouble in the past.

Having to buy a new air conditioner quickly can be stressful. But, we’re here to help you make the best, most informed, and financially sound decision possible.

And, if we can, we’ll help you make that decision on your own time by keeping your current system up and running for as long as possible.

Air Conditioner And Furnace Replacement In Elgin, IL

Compass Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. is the trusted name for air conditioning and furnace replacement in Elgin, IL. For over a decade, we’ve served the Fox River Valley with HVAC work done right the first time. Click here to schedule an appointment online. Or, call us at (630) 504-8688.