5 Common Portland Air Conditioning Problems and Solutions

During the hottest days of the year in Portland, Oregon, the last thing you want to experience is a problem with your air conditioning. Even the slightest interruption to your home’s ability to cool itself can have miserable consequences: extreme heat leads to a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, leaving you tired, grumpy, sluggish, and unproductive.

Of course, like all technologies, air conditioning is prone to a variety of issues. Some of these are large and some are small, but all are problematic if you’re trying to seek refuge from a heatwave. Fortunately, most of these problems have relatively simple solutions, many of which you can enact yourself. Below are five of the most common Portland air conditioning problems, as well as their solutions:

1. The Problem: Your Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On, No Matter How Hot It Gets

Some people like their homes to be cooler than others. For this reason, HVAC systems are designed for you to be able to adjust your thermostat to achieve your desired temperature. However, occasionally, you may notice a problem: you’ve turned down the thermostat but the room doesn’t seem to be cooling at all. Indeed, no matter what temperature you set your thermostat to, your air conditioner doesn’t seem to turn on at all.

The Solution: Check Your Electrical Connections

It’s possible that your thermostat isn’t communicating properly with your air conditioner due to a faulty connection. There are actually many electrical connections throughout your HVAC system, and if one of those becomes faulty, it can cause the entire unit to fail. If you notice that your air conditioner won’t turn on, regardless of the setting and the outside temperature, it’s likely to be an electrical problem with your thermostat. Check your connections, and if necessary, get an HVAC professional to make repairs for you.

2. The Problem: The Air Coming from Your Vents Isn’t Cold Enough

Maybe your air conditioner is turning on just fine and seems to be humming along doing its job perfectly, but the air itself doesn’t actually seem that cold. You notice that, even though the thermostat appears to be doing its job properly, the room doesn’t seem to cool down. Even holding your hand up to a vent indicates the air isn’t especially cold.

The Solution: Clean Your Ducts

After the AC unit cools the air in your home, a blower motor distributes that air throughout a system of ducts. In this way, each room in the house can be cooled down to your desired temperature. However, over time, the ducts in this system will become dirty and, ultimately, clogged and inefficient. Regular cleaning and maintenance will prevent this from happening. Regularly replace the filters in your air ducts, as well as cleaning dust and other buildup so that cool air can flow through your home easily.

3. The Problem: Your Air Conditioner Is Making Strange Noises

One of the most obvious signs that there’s something wrong with a mechanical system is an unusual noise. This can happen, of course, with air conditioning units as well. Different noises can indicate different problems. A loud buzzing could be an electrical problem. A rattling sound could mean the blower motor isn’t functioning properly. A refrigerant leak could be indicated by a hissing sound.

The Solution: Depends On the Source of the Noise

Because there are several causes for unusual sounds coming from your air conditioning unit, there’s no single solution we can list here. In many cases, it may be a simple fix. For example, if you hear a strange rattling caused by your blower motor, it could simply be a result of debris blocking the smooth motion of the fan. In this case, you can easily clean the area yourself. In other cases, you may need to contact a professional from Watts Heating and Cooling to perform a more comprehensive repair.

4. The Problem: Your Electric Bill Is Unusually High

Running the air conditioning requires continuous power usage. As a result, it will affect your electric bill, especially during the hottest parts of the year. However, you may notice that your energy usage seems unusually high and your bill seems unusually expensive, even for the summertime. There are several reasons why this may be the case.

The Solution: Stop Wasting Energy

In many cases, the reason your electric bill is so high is that you’re simply wasting energy and not allowing your AC to work at maximum efficiency. There are a number of simple fixes for this: close doors and windows when running the air conditioner. Shut blinds and curtains so that the sunlight doesn’t reheat a room you just cooled. Don’t run the air conditioner if it’s a cool night or if no one is in the house.

In some cases, the problem may require a bit more effort. Sometimes, your energy bill might be too high as a result of having the wrong air conditioning unit for your space. If your air conditioner is too small, it will have to work extra hard to circulate air throughout your home. If it’s too big, it will cycle on and off continuously, also driving up the price. In these cases, you may have to ask Watts Heating and Cooling to install an entirely new AC unit for you.

5. The Problem: Your Air Conditioner Is Leaking Refrigerant

The technology that allows air conditioners to cool homes is actually fairly simple: warm outside air is passed through coils filled with refrigerant and then recirculated throughout the home. This refrigerant has a unique property: it absorbs heat energy. As a result, the air is cooled down to a comfortable temperature.

The type of refrigerant used varies. Older air conditioners may use Freon. However, due to environmental reasons, this has been phased out in modern AC units in favor of HCFC-22, which is also called Puron. The amount of refrigerant and the pressure that it’s kept at also varies depending upon the unit. This means that if any refrigerant leaks out, the unit will begin to operate at less than optimal efficiency.

If you see ice forming on the evaporator coils of your AC unit or if you hear a telltale hissing sound, these can be signs that your air conditioner is leaking refrigerant.

The Solution: Call a Professional

Unfortunately, this problem isn’t one you can easily fix yourself. This is because the pressure on the refrigerant in your Portland air conditioner has to be kept at an exact level. It’s not enough to simply add more refrigerant to the machine. Besides this, the refrigerant used in older models, Freon, is toxic and must be treated with caution. If you notice any signs of a leak in or around your evaporator coils, contact a company like Watts Heating and Cooling. They will be able to make any necessary repairs safely, while also performing regular maintenance to avoid similar problems in the future.