Your HVAC unit has several moving parts such as the belts, motors, and electronics that allow the system to chill and heat your air. Any of these things can go wrong and cause your HVAC to malfunction although regular maintenance can help prevent such breakdowns. Other times, simple leaks and clogs can be to blame for a failure to control the climate in your home. Here's a look at how leaks and clogs affect the three main components of a central HVAC unit.
The Outdoor Compressor
Your air conditioner relies on the outdoor compressor to chill the air with refrigerant. Sometimes the refrigerant leaks out due to damage to the line. When that happens, your AC no longer works properly. Repairing the line and adding more refrigerant is a job for a licensed contractor. The compressor can be affected by clogs too. If the coils are very dirty or if the fins are bent and causing an obstruction, the operation of the unit will be affected. You can probably clean the coils and compressor cage yourself and straighten out bent fins. This is a job that should be done at least once each year. If you don't do it, you should hire a contractor to inspect and service the compressor right before you turn on the air conditioning in the summer.
The Ducts And Registers
The ducts are what distribute the chilled or warmed air throughout your home and then the air blows into the rooms through register vents. This pathway for air has to be kept clean and free from holes and other damage so there are no air leaks. If your AC or furnace runs but very little air comes out of the registers, the problem could be with the ducts. Ducts are sometimes made of metal and other times they are made from coils. The coils can be easily damaged by rodents or raccoons.
Even metal ducts can be damaged so that air leaks into the attic rather than being blown into your home. Besides duct leaks, register clogs are another problem that can interfere with the distribution of airflow. You should vacuum or dust out the register vents and keep them open so there are no obstructions that prevent heated or cooled air from circulating through your home.
The Air Handler
The air handler is usually located indoors in your attic or in a closet. Its performance can be impaired when it becomes clogged with dust. The coils in the air handler need to be cleaned annually. Also, the vents on the sides of the unit should be dusted or vacuumed to keep them free of debris. One of the most important things you can do to protect your HVAC unit is to change the filter on a regular schedule. If it is clogged with dust and other airborne pollutants, it can seriously affect the performance of your HVAC.
Most of the leaks and clogs in your system can be prevented with annual cleaning and inspection of your system. If clogs do develop, you can often take care of them yourself. However, calling in an HVAC repair person for an annual inspection is still a good idea because clogs and leaks are only a small part of things that can go wrong with an HVAC. The internal parts, motors, fans, and wiring needs to be checked annually too and replaced when they are worn so you can prevent a heating or cooling emergency due to a breakdown.