Signs of an Aging System
A central air system can break at any time, but it is rare for it to completely stop working unexpectedly. In most cases, there will be red flags long before your air conditioner gives out. Watch for the following signs:
Buzzing: Air conditioners often make buzzing noises when they experience restricted airflow.
Squealing: This could mean a dry fan belt or a bearing that needs oil. However, if the sound is coming from outside, you may have a refrigerant leak.
Increased energy consumption: When air conditioners go into total disrepair, their efficiency can go down in ways that dramatically increase your power bills. Monitor your energy bills closely.
Bad smells: Systems accumulate dust or mildew, which can account for that dirty sock smell. Other odors may be due to a clogged condensate drain, which may be leaking water.
How to Determine Your Air Conditioner’s Age
Knowing the date your central air system was made will give you a good idea of how much longer you can expect it to last. However, you may need to do a bit of detective work to determine its age. Older air conditioners are often poorly labeled, and many of them have no clear information about their origins.
Step 1: Find the label. The label should be on the inside of the front door on the unit inside your home. Scan the label for a date of manufacture. If it’s not readily apparent, you’ll need to inspect the serial number for the year.
Step 2: Decode the serial number. The week of the year that the system was manufactured is sometimes represented in the first two digits of the serial number. Likewise, the third and fourth numbers suggest the year. For example, the number 1298 means the system rolled off the assembly line in the twelfth week of 1998.
This how many HVAC manufacturers dated their products in the 1990s. In the 2000s, they changed it up. For systems made in the year 2000 or later, it’s the last four digits of the serial number that you need to pay attention to. These point to the month and the year. For example, 0705 would mean the system was made in July 2005.
Extreme heat and your air conditioner
The extreme heat will cause your air conditioner to run continuously. This will not damage your unit.
- Change your filter! If you have not changed your filter recently, stop what you’re doing and change it! A dirty filter can cause your air conditioner to work harder and lead to breakdowns.
- Your unit was designed and sized for the average regional temperatures we experience 98% of the time. Turning down your thermostat will not make it blow colder air. Set the thermostat to the temperature you want to achieve (76 degrees) and leave it set there.
- When outside temps reach near or over 90 degrees, it is normal for the temps to go up in your home during the hottest part of the day.
- Check your vents. If the unit is blowing cold air, the A/C is working as best as it can during the extreme heat.
- Make sure your outside air conditioner has room to breathe and is clear from bushes, shrubs, etc., on all sides.
- Once temperatures cool back down to normal summer temps, your air conditioner will catch up and resume its normal run cycle.