You need your air conditioning system more than ever when temperatures skyrocket. Air conditioner manufacturers design their systems for these moments, so a well-maintained air conditioner should weather even unseasonably warm temperatures without too much issue. However, systems with underlying problems can sometimes buckle under stress.
Many homeowners discover problems with their AC systems during intense heat waves because the symptoms may have been less noticeable during milder weather. In other cases, the strain of operating for longer periods may have finally pushed a failing component over the edge. Whatever the case, you will want to watch for these three potential issues next time extreme heat strikes your area.
1. Blown Capacitors
Blown capacitors are one of the most stereotypical failure points for air conditioners during heat waves. This issue is so common that you'll often find plenty of do-it-yourself advice recommending capacitor replacements. Your AC's capacitor provides the initial "jump" necessary to start your compressor, and they do commonly fail, but unthinkingly replacing one isn't always the best option.
If your air conditioner struggles to start or won't start, the capacitor may be to blame. Excessive heat can finish off a failing capacitor, but other issues can also cause these symptoms. Unless you have the electrical skills to test and diagnose your capacitor, you should leave diagnosing and conducting this repair to an HVAC professional.
2. Frozen Evaporator Coils
The evaporator coil absorbs heat from the air in your home, producing condensation (and reducing humidity) in the process. Under normal conditions, the temperature at the evaporator remains above freezing, and the condensation drips into a drainage system. Refrigerant pressure problems, either from leaks or restrictions, can reduce evaporator pressure temperatures to below freezing.
Low temperatures will cause ice to form on the coils, which can interfere with system efficiency and cause your air conditioner to short cycle. You might not notice these symptoms in mild weather because there may be enough time between cycles for the system to thaw. On the other hand, high temperatures may cause your system to run long enough to freeze the coils and trigger a shutdown.
3. Increased Maintenance Frequency
While not strictly a repair issue, heat waves can increase the necessary maintenance frequency for your air conditioner and potentially lead to major repairs if you don't stay on top of these added requirements. Since your system must run more often, dirt and debris will build up more quickly on your filter, condenser coils, and evaporator coils.
An annual service visit can help avoid these issues, but you'll also want to check and change your filter more often if you're using your air conditioner more frequently than normal. You should also consider calling an HVAC technician any time you notice a change in your system's behavior since it can often be difficult to tell the difference between a maintenance issue and a problem requiring immediate repair.
For more information on AC repair, contact a professional near you.