- Category: Common Cooling Issues
- Published: 26 January 2015
Q. How long should my air conditioner last?
A. The average life-expectancy of an air conditioner is 15-18 years.
Q. Does it hurt if the insulation is damaged on my air conditioner lines?
A. Not necessarily. The insulation is there to prevent sweating. If the insulation is torn, and the lines are exposed inside, it may cause sweating and possible water damage to whatever gets dripped-on. If the insulation is torn outside, the likely sweating should not cause any problems.
Q. How often should I replace my air filter?
A. That depends on two factors 1) the type of air filter in your system and 2) the amount of dust in the air. In a clean environment, a standard 1" filter should be replaced every 2 to 3 months. A media air filter (4 to 5" thick) has a much larger surface area and generally only requires replacement 2 times per year. In a heavy-dust area the frequency may increase dramatically.
Q. What type of filter should I use?
A. If you have a 1" disposable filter, we recommend using a standard-efficiency, pleated filter (high-efficiency, ultra-allergen filters tend to cause too much airflow restriction). If you have a media air filter, you should stick with the exact style and brand. A different brand (even though the same dimensions) may not fit the cabinet correctly and allow unfilterd air through your system.
Q. Where can I purchase replacement filters?
A. Common sizes of 1" replacement filters (16x20, 16x25, 20x20, 20x25, 25x25) can be purchased at most hardware or home improvement stores. Odd size 1" filters and media air filters have to be purchased at a HVAC supply house, a heat contractor or ordered online. GHAC stocks and sells all types and sizes of air filters.
Q. Is it okay to leave my filter out for a little while?
A. Your furnace does not need the filter to operate. The filter is just there to catch dust particles in the air as it circulates through your home. If a system goes unfiltered for an extended period of time, internal components can become clogged and reduce system capacity. Leaving the filter out for a day or two, however, generally won't cause any measurable trouble.
Q. Why is there a red light on my thermostat?
A. Some outdoor units have an equipment monitor that will energize a diagnostic light at the thermostat if it senses an improper operating condition. In some cases, this can be a constant red light, and some units will generate a flashing light. Try turning the thermostat "Off" for a couple of minutes and then back on. If the light comes back, you may need a service appointment.
Q. Should I buy a new programmable thermostat?
A. A programmable thermostat is a good idea if you have a normal schedule when you are away from your home. Honeywell says that you can save 15 - 20% on your home heating and cooling costs by setting your thermostat temperature up or down while you are away. But, if you are normally home during the days then a programmable thermostat will likely be more trouble than it is worth.
Q. Should I set the "Fan" switch to "On" or "Auto"?
A. The furnace will operate fine in either position. In the "Auto" position, the fan will come on only when your equipment is operating for heating or cooling. In the "On" position the fan will run continuous and the heating and cooling will cycle on and off as needed. Some people like to leave the fan in the "On" position to provide more air circulation, more air filtration and more consistent temperatures throughout the home.
Q. What kind of freon is in my air conditioner?
A. That depends on the age of your system. If your unit was installed before 2010, it will have R-22. If your unit was installed after 2010, it most likely has the new R410a refrigerant. However, some manufacturers have been offering "Dry-ship" R-22 units since 2010, so it is possible for a newer unit to still use R-22.
Q. Is R-22 freon still available for my unit?
A. Absolutely. The EPA has mandated reduced production with a planned phase-out by 2030, but there is still adequate supply available. In addition, some companies are reclaiming recovered refrigerant for use in older systems.
Q. How often should I replace the freon in my unit?
A. There is a common misconception that refrigerant wears-out. It does not. As long as your refrigerant systems is leak-free it should never need new freon.
Q. Can I upgrade to a newer refrigerant?
A. An R-22 system cannot be easily upgraded to use R410a. It would basically require all new components. There are some new refrigerants starting to come-out to replace R-22 but their popularity goes up and down with the price of R-22, and there isn't yet a "drop-in" replacement.
Q. Why do I have to add freon to my air conditioner?
A. The primary reason that would require the addition of refrigerant is a freon leak. There are some systems with an abnormality referred to as a "charge imbalance" (heat pumps only) which requires freon to be removed in the fall and added back in the spring.
Q. Is it normal for my air conditioner to make water when it runs?
A. Yes. Condensation is a normal side-effect of cooling (so is dehumidification). All air conditioner coils have a condensate drain designed to remove the water that is produced during cooling.
Q. How much water will my air conditioner produce?
A. That depends on how long the system runs and how much humidity is in the indoor air. On hot, humid summer days, your air conditioner may easily produce 5 gallons or more each day.
Q. Should I have water around my furnace?
A. Generally, if there is water around your furnace, this is an indication that the condensate drainage system is not functioning properly.
Q. Is there any maintenance I should be doing to my air conditioner?
A. The primary maintenance function that homeowners need to perform is keeping a clean air filter in the system. Other tasks may include keeping the outdoor unit free from obstructions and cleaning the drain line. (Watch the "How-to" video on our website).
Q. How often should I have my unit serviced?
A. The manufacturer would prefer that you have your unit serviced each season. GHAC offers a very cost-effective maintenance program that provides seasonal equipment maintenance. (See "Premium Service Agreements" on our website.)
Q. Should I cover my air conditioner in the winter?
A. Covering your unit is not necessary and has little effect on its longevity. However, it may help keep the unit looking better by protecting it from fall leaves and winter weather.
Q. How can I tell if my air conditioner is working properly?
A. The best way to determine if an air conditioner is working at full capacity is by checking the temperature drop (Supply Temp minus Return Temp). A properly functioning system should have a temperature drop of 15-18 degrees.
Q. Should my air conditioner lines have ice on them?
A. No. Ice on the refrigerant lines would indicate a problem of either low refrigerant charge or insufficient airflow across the indoor coil. You should turn the system "Off" and the fan "On" until there is good, full airflow coming from the registers. Check the filter and try restarting the system. If it continues to freeze, you should have the system checked by a qualified technician.