Summer is almost here! Fun in the sun, beach days, and family vacations are right around the corner. Of course, with summer also comes sweltering heat and unbearable humidity. Your home's air conditioning system is your reprieve against the summer sun, but it is also a complex system with many potential points of failure. The compressor is the core of the system, and it is one of the most vital components to check before the summer and monitor while the system is in use.
What Is the Compressor?
The compressor is the heart of your air conditioning system. As the name implies, it is responsible for compressing the refrigerant, which returns from inside your home. In a standard, two-unit central air system, the compressor is usually located in the main outdoor unit (also known as the condenser unit). As warm, gaseous refrigerant enters this unit, it is forced into a high-pressure state by the compressor. The high-pressure gas is then forced through the condenser's coils so that it can eliminate its heat and move back into the house as a cool liquid.
Since the cool, condensed refrigerant is what allows your home's indoor unit to remove heat and humidity from the air, your compressor must be functioning properly for your system to actually cool your home.
Checking Your Compressor Before the Summer
Routine maintenance of your air conditioning system before the summer begins is always a good idea. This means checking and replacing your filters, cleaning the condenser's exposed coils and the area around the condenser unit, and cleaning out your ducts if at all possible. It will also pay to check for any obvious signs of compressor failure at this time. While it is difficult to conduct a thorough evaluation without a professional, there are a few obvious problems to watch out for. In particular, any signs of moisture or leakage around the condenser unit are cause for alarm, as this may mean the system is losing refrigerant.
Be Aware of the Signs of a Failing Compressor
Once you've started your AC unit up for the first time, it will pay to watch out for any signs of compressor failure. Noticing and dealing with problems early will limit the amount of time that you and your family will have to live with a hot and humid home, and dealing with problems before they get worse may even save you some money.
Luckily, compressors do not tend to go quietly, and there will often be early warning signs of a problem. The first time you fire your system up for the summer, stand near the condenser unit, and listen for any unusual sounds. A loud banging, rattling, or popping noise as the compressor engages almost certainly indicates a problem. If you hear these noises, call a professional, like those at Vacinek Plumbing Heating & Roofing, as soon as possible. Likewise, the condenser should not vibrate or rattle visibly under normal operation. In some cases, these may be symptoms of a failing blower, but this is still an important problem to address as it can ultimately lead to compressor failure in the future.
Somewhat less obvious symptoms of a failing compressor include reduced air flow or air that just isn't as cool as it should be. These symptoms can potentially be caused by other problems, however, and they will not always be accompanied by more obvious compressor problems such as loud noises. Even if the compressor does not appear to be to blame, it will pay to contact a technician any time your system is not functioning properly. Many AC problems can create stress on the system that will quickly lead to additional component failures if not addressed as quickly as possible.
Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Do you struggle to have enough space to hold family dinners with all of your extended family? If so, it is time to consider adding an outdoor living space to your home. Something as simple as a furnished patio can make your life a little more enjoyable. You could even go all out like I did and have a full outdoor kitchen installed. During the summer, I never use the kitchen inside my home. I am always outside cooking dinner, baking goodies and spending time in the fresh air. To get a few ideas about how to design your outdoor living space, go to my site.