Managing Your HVAC System

Warning Signs Of A Malfunctioning Air Conditioner

The central air conditioner in your home should enhance the comfort of your living space, but occasionally things can take a turn for the worst. An old unit, lack of preventive maintenance, and dirty duct work can lead to dangerous breakdowns in your cooling system. Here are some warning signs of a malfunctioning air conditioner and why you should immediately contact an air conditioning repair professional as soon as possible:

Noxious Odors

If you notice strange or noxious smells every time you turn on your air conditioner, call a heating and cooling professional right away. If you notice a musty smell, it could mean that your ventilation system has a mold problem.

This is typically caused by moisture in the ductwork, and if you inhale mold spores when your unit is on, you could get sick. Even if your home smells musty when your air conditioner is running, there is no way to tell if your unit has a mold problems until a professional visually inspects it.

Hire an HVAC contractor to clean the air ducts and inspect your system to determine where the condensation or moisture is coming from. Once the source of moisture has been identified and mitigated, you will no longer be at risk for mold formation inside your ventilation system.

In addition to musty odors, burning odors can also mean trouble. While you may smell a slight burning odor when you turn on your heat at the beginning of the cold-weather season, you should never smell it at any time when your air conditioner is on.

Burning odors can be caused by an oil leak or faulty motor. If you detect a burning smell when your air conditioner is on, turn it off right away, then call an air conditioning professional. Motor problems or oil leaks can cause an electrical fire and even lead to respiratory problems and headaches.

Another dangerous smell that can originate from your air conditioning unit is that of rotten eggs. This is typically the result of a gas leak, and while furnaces can sometimes give off a slight natural gas smell, it should be very subtle.

If the rotten egg odor is overpowering, you could have a significant natural gas leak in your furnace. This can cause a fire or even put you and your family at risk for an explosion. If you smell gas or rotten eggs when your air conditioner is on, do not try to diagnose the problem yourself. Get out of the house as soon as possible, then call the fire department, gas company, and a heating and cooling contractor. Also, do not return to your home until you get the "all clear" to do so from all three of these professional disciplines. 

Fluid Leaks

A leaky air conditioning unit can result from insulation problems or faulty refrigerant lines. Significant leaks can cause mold growth, and if the fluid leaks onto your floor in the basement, it could pose a fall risk. If your unit is leaking refrigerant, small children or pets could be in danger if they drink or taste it.

If you see a puddle of water near your air conditioning unit or furnance, do not try to figure out which type of fluid it is. Call an air conditioning repair person, who will evaluate and repair the broken line. In the meantime, close off the area of the leak so that it cannot be accessed by children or pets. 

If you notice any of the above warning signs, enlist the help of a central air repair services professional. He or she has the expertise and knowledge to troubleshoot just about any problem relating to your heating and cooling system to ensure that you and your family stay cool, comfortable, and safe.