How to Know If Your A/C System is on Its Last Leg

How to Know If Your A/C Is on Its Last Leg (and What to Do about It)

August 31, 2020

When your A/C system is on its last leg or in big-time repair trouble, you may have a gut feeling about it. However, you want some sort of clue, confirmation or evidence that it is indeed time to replace your A/C unit. Below, we discuss some of the top indicators that your A/C is failing. If your A/C is exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, reach out to the HVAC professionals at Lozier and make an appointment to have someone look at your A/C unit. Depending on what we find, it may be time to start shopping for a replacement.

How long does an A/C last?

In general, an air conditioner should last 10 to 15 years, but this can vary according to a number of factors. With regular A/C tuneups and preventative maintenance, your A/C can last 15 years or more. With neglect or overuse, an A/C may only last 10 years.

When it’s time to invest in a new HVAC system, be sure to consider your home’s cooling needs, along with other factors like unit efficiency and budget priorities. Reach out to Lozier if you have questions about whether you should repair or replace your A/C.

How do I know if my A/C is broken?

If you suspect your A/C is failing, keep an eye on your A/C unit and look for these key indicators of a broken air conditioner:

  1. Unit running continuously
  2. Vents blowing hot air
  3. Unusual noises
  4. Strange smells
  5. Moisture or leaks
  6. House is humid

Some A/C issues may require simple repairs or replacement parts, but bigger problems may reveal a need to replace your whole A/C system.

1. Why does my A/C unit keep running?

Sometimes an A/C unit that's on its last leg will run continuously, unable to keep up with your home's cooling load. This can happen for a number of reasons, including electrical issues, low refrigerant, ice buildup and dirt or debris.

  • Electrical: A bad electrical part, such as a contactor, can keep your A/C running and wasting energy and blower life.
  • Refrigerant: Low refrigerant indicates a leak that may require a major part replacement. When you have a refrigerant leak, your A/C won't be able keep up with your home's cooling load.
  • Ice Buildup: Ice buildup on the evaporator effectively halts the cooling process, but your A/C will continue to run. Ice buildup is often caused by an electrical problem, low refrigerant or excessive dirt in the A/C.
  • Dirt and Debris: When the air filter in your A/C is clogged with dirt, dust and other debris, air flow is restricted and your A/C may not function as expected. Replacing your air filter will improve airflow and efficiency.

2. Why is my A/C running but not cooling?

If your A/C is blowing hot air, you may have one of the following problems: blocked or clogged condenser coil, low refrigerant, ice buildup or a dirty filter. Some of these issues require a simple fix and some may be indicators of a bigger problem.

It’s always a good idea to have a professional HVAC technician look at your A/C unit, help you diagnose your problem and offer repair recommendations.

3. Why is my A/C making a loud noise?

Your air conditioner will make some noise, but it should not make loud grinding, screeching or whirring noises. Unusual noises coming from your A/C unit could be caused by a faulty fan motor, bad compressor or another electrical or mechanical issue in the A/C system.

Here are some common reasons for the following unusual noises:

  • Grinding: Grinding noises indicate a failing blower motor. Turn off your A/C and contact your HVAC technician.
  • Squealing: Squealing may also indicate a blower problem, but more often it indicates a loose blower assembly, which doesn't require A/C replacement.Whirring: A whining, whirring and droning noise is indicative of a failing compressor — the heart of your A/C system. Start planning your A/C replacement.

4. Why does my A/C smell bad?

There are many different reasons for various bad smells in your HVAC system. A smelly air conditioner could be caused by sitting water, mold or even a small dead animal stuck in the outdoor unit. An HVAC technician can help you diagnose any odd smells coming from your A/C.

Learn more about bad smells coming from your air conditioner or flowing through your air vents.

5. Why is my A/C leaking?

If you see extra moisture or leaks around your A/C unit, there may be an issue with one or more parts of the refrigerant system. Check on the condition of your air conditioner's condensate drain and pump, refrigerant levels, drain line and air filter.

6. Why is my house so humid with the A/C on?

When your A/C is working properly, it should remove humidity from your house. If your house is humid with your A/C running, it could be a problem with leaky ductwork or dirty evaporator coils — or you may need to replace your aging air conditioner.

As an A/C unit ages, it becomes less effective at cooling your home and removing humidity from the air. A technician from Lozier Heating & Cooling will be able to help you understand why your house feels muggy with the A/C running.

Need a New A/C? Contact Lozier!

When it seems like repairs are never-ending, it’s time to retire your old A/C and invest in a new efficient system that will keep your home cool for years. If you suspect your A/C system is on its last leg, simply text Lozier at (515) 393-4262 or submit a service request online to schedule an appointment. To speak with a team member, call our 24-hour service line at (515) 267-1000.