Why they may not be worth the expense
Have you ever noticed that once something becomes popular, most people just accept it without question? Air conditioning systems are the perfect example of this. The majority of homes in the U.S. have a central air system; newer houses are usually built with them, and older houses are often retrofitted to accommodate them. And while these systems have some benefits, problems with them are common. Here are the issues that crop up regularly:
1. Coolant leaks
In order to work well, central AC needs the right amount of coolant. If a homeowner notices a fluctuation in temperature, often low coolant is the culprit. And because it doesn’t evaporate, most likely the problem is a leak. Depending on its location and extent, a leak can be very costly to fix.
2. Clogged drain lines
Over time, things like dirt and lint can accumulate within the drain line. When enough debris builds up, the drain pan will fill up and overflow. Not only will the leaking water hurt the AC unit, because it will end up somewhere in the house, it can also cause damage to the structure of a home.
3. Bad contactors
Central AC units have three contactors, one each for the compressor, condenser fan, and blower fan. When a system is turned on, it’s these contactors that create an electrical connection to get things moving. When the contactors wear out or become damaged, they will have a difficult time generating the necessary electric current.
4. Faulty capacitors
Just as there are three contactors, there are also three capacitors for each important part of the AC system. These are batteries that supply extra electricity to start a motor or keep it running. If they aren’t functioning as they should, the motors inside the unit won’t work.
5. Dirty or corroded coils
There are two coils that are essential to a central AC system. The evaporator coil takes heat from the air and sends it into a house through the ducts as cold air. With a lot of usages, these coils can get corroded, which means they won’t do their job properly. Evaporator coils also have a tendency to freeze. Condenser coils are located outside, and because they are exposed to the elements, they can become very dirty, also hindering their ability.
6. Broken outside fans
Another key part of central AC is the outside fan, which aids in taking the warm air out of a home. When a fan doesn’t work well, often this can cause the compressor to overheat. Over time, this can severely damage the compressor, which will require an expensive repair or replacement.
7. Out of place sensors
Most central AC systems have a sensor in the thermostat’s control panel that measures the temperature of the air that flows into the evaporator coil. It is very important that the sensor is in the right position. It needs to be close to the coil but not touching it. If the sensor is in the wrong spot, it will give an inaccurate temperature measurement.
How much does it cost to fix a central AC system?
Because AC units have so many different parts that can wear out or go bad, expenses for repairs can vary widely. While the average cost is about $300, extensive work could be significantly higher. Fixing a leak, for example, could run someone around $1,500. And if a condenser coil can’t be fixed and needs to be replaced, this may end up being close to $3,000.
Why a ductless system is the better option
Most of the potential problems related to central AC systems come down to one thing: ducts. All of the systems parts have to work together to either take the air out or send air in, and it flows through a home’s ducts. The easy solution for this is to ditch a duct-reliant unit. Ductless mini splits are more energy-efficient, provide excellent comfort, and save homeowners money. Learn more about the benefits of going ductless.