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4 Ways You May Cause Your AC to Break Down This Summer

During the Phoenix summer, your air conditioner makes your home an oasis from the scorching heat.

So the last thing you want is for that magical metal box to break down. Yet, you may be doing some things that can cause it to do just that.

And we don’t want that. So we’ve compiled a list of the top 4 things homeowners do that cause their air conditioners to break down (and how you can avoid them).

Closing air vents in unused rooms

The problem: Closing vents actually restricts the airflow through your air conditioner, causing it to run longer and harder. Eventually, this can cause your AC to:

How? Well, your air conditioner is sized to work with a certain amount of airflow. Closing off vents reduces the amount of air flowing over your evaporator coil (the part that sucks the heat out of the air).

And without enough air, the evaporator coil gets really cold. Moisture from the air then freezes on the coils. The ice on the coil further reduces the airflow, which drops the temperature on the coil even more, which causes more moisture to freeze. And this cycle continues.

Eventually, your AC becomes useless and won’t cool your home as well.

Or the air conditioner may begin drawing so many amps (because it’s working so hard) that it trips your circuit breaker and shuts off completely.

And it doesn’t end there. Closing your vents can also create:

  • Higher energy bills
  • Increased duct leakage
  • Shorter AC lifespan
  • Hot/cold spots in your home

Find out more in our article, Why Closing Air Vents Damages Your Heating/Cooling System

The fix: Open up any vents you’ve closed in your home! You should also make sure vents aren’t blocked by furniture.

Not changing your air filter

The problem: Dirt on the air filter impedes airflow. And we already know what a restriction in airflow can mean for your air conditioner:

  • Overheating and tripping your circuit breaker
  • A frozen AC

Related: Has Your Air Conditioner’s Air Filter Betrayed You?

The fix: ENERGY STAR recommends changing your air filter every 3 months, at a minimum. However, during the summer in the Phoenix area, we recommend checking it once a month and changing it when it looks dirty.

Dirty Air Filter

Notice the visible dirt on the filter on the right. It needs to be changed.

Letting dogs go on the outside unit

The problem: Dogs (especially male ones) sometimes urinate on your outdoor AC unit. Dog urine is acidic and will destroy the coils and fins, which are essential to your cooling system. And once that’s happened the whole condenser will likely need to be replaced (not cheap!).

Watch this YouTube video to learn more about why you shouldn't let your dog urinate on your AC.

How to fix it: Keep an eye on your dogs when you let them outside and stop them from doing their business on your air conditioner. Also, you can install a removable fence around the air conditioner.

Ignoring your annual AC maintenance check-up

The problem: AC maintenance helps catch and fix potential problems before they happen. By skipping your tune up, you may not catch common problems like:

  • Low refrigerant charge/refrigerant leak
  • Bad electrical connections
  • Clogged condensate drain
  • Dirty condenser and evaporator coils

For more, check out our article 4 Ways a Tune-Up Prevents Your AC from Breaking Down

How to fix it: Schedule your AC tune-up now. And in the future, consider a maintenance plan which will include your annual tune-ups as well as discounts on repairs and service.

George Brazil has been keeping Phoenix-area homes safe, comfortable and energy efficient since 1955.