It is frustrating to turn on your air conditioner during the summer and find it not working. Not knowing the problem, worrying about the cost of repairs, and waiting for the HVAC technician to arrive all add to the irritation. Thankfully, you can take steps to ensure your air conditioner is properly maintained for peak efficiency during the warm months, keeping you and your home’s occupants cool while using energy effectively.

Understanding the Functions of Air Conditioning

Many perceive air conditioners solely as cooling devices. However, a properly functioning air conditioner performs three crucial functions: cooling, dehumidification, and ventilation. Failure in any of these functions can compromise your comfort, health, and safety during the summer.


The primary function of an air conditioner is to keep your home cool. Factors such as space size and building design influence the type of air conditioner required. Larger commercial buildings often rely on powerful roof systems for efficient cooling.


Air conditioners also act as dehumidifiers, especially during humid summer months. Excess moisture indoors can lead to discomfort and potential health issues. The cooling process of the air conditioner helps remove moisture from the air. The system has drains in place to expel water condensation.


Air conditioners play a vital role in ventilation. They circulate air throughout your home, preventing rooms from becoming stuffy. Using the air conditioner in fan mode can provide circulation without cooling. It also prevents outdoor allergens like pollen from entering your home.

Key Components of an Air Conditioner


Most people are familiar with what a thermostat does. You set the temperature on the thermostat to the level you desire in your home. The thermostat will then regulate the functioning of the air conditioner, allowing you to achieve your desired indoor air temperature.


Air ducts serve as conduits, allowing conditioned air to be blown through your home, creating maximum circulation. The warm air from inside your home is forced out of the house via the air ducts with the aid of a motorized fan.


Refrigerant is a substance that travels through the indoor and outdoor parts of your air conditioner. Most refrigerants have hydrofluorocarbons as well as hydrocarbons. These absorb heat and transfer it outside the home during the cooling process.


The condenser sits outside your home. Its job is to condense refrigerant gas into a liquid. The liquid then dispels the warmth that was transferred from inside your home to the outside.

Expansion Valve

The expansion valve sits between the evaporator coils and the condenser. The expansion valve dictates the amount of refrigerant that enters the evaporator coil.

If you are unhappy with how your air conditioner is dehumidifying, ventilating, or cooling your home, it’s likely because there is an issue with one of the key components in the system. During annual spring maintenance, an HVAC technician will review the different components in your HVAC system, identify the potential problems, and make recommendations to ensure that by the time summer comes, your air conditioner will be working the way you want it to.

Addressing Common Air Conditioner Maintenance Issues

Air conditioners typically have a life span of 10 to 15 years, but proper maintenance can extend their longevity. However, several common maintenance issues may affect the efficiency of your air conditioner during the summer.

Refrigerant Leaks

A low refrigerant level can result from undercharging during installation or a leak afterward. Identifying and fixing refrigerant leaks requires the expertise of a trained HVAC technician. Once the leak is repaired, the technician will test the system to ensure it maintains the recommended refrigerant charge. A proper refrigerant level is crucial for optimal air conditioner performance and environmental impact.

Electrical Circuit Failures

Fan and compressor controls can wear out, particularly if the air conditioner experiences frequent short cycling. Short cycling occurs when the system turns off and on too rapidly. This can be due to an oversized unit. Other electrical circuit issues may include corrosion, loose contacts, or wiring problems.

Problems With Sensors

Various sensors measure temperature and control functions within the air conditioner. If a sensor becomes misaligned, the air conditioner may cycle continuously or operate erratically. HVAC professionals can adjust sensors to ensure proper functioning.

Drainage Problems

Air conditioners dehumidify living spaces using condensate drains during humid conditions. A blocked or improperly emptying condensate drain can lead to leaks, water infiltration, or sensor-triggered deactivation of the air conditioner due to water accumulation in the condensate pan. Regular maintenance can prevent drainage issues and ensure efficient operation.

Preparing Your Air Conditioner for Summer

While having regular professional maintenance of your air conditioner is the best way to ensure it is going to work when you need it to, there are also some steps that you, as a homeowner, can take to maximize the efficiency of your air conditioner.

Change the Filter

Regularly changing the air filter is essential for trapping airborne pollutants and maintaining airflow. Hold the filter up to a light. If light passes through, it’s still usable. If not, replace it. Consider having your HVAC technician handle this task to ensure the right filter type for your needs.

Cleaning Your Air Conditioner

Like all other appliances, your air conditioner will collect dust and debris over time. Cleaning the air conditioner includes ensuring that the coils, fans, and housing are clean and free of debris. Cleaning the coils and cleaning around electrical components in your air conditioner is a very delicate task. If someone is not careful, they could inadvertently damage the air conditioner. This is why it is recommended to leave the annual cleaning of your air conditioner up to your HVAC technician. During the cleaning, your technician will be able to identify issues with your air conditioner that might need to be fixed.

Straightening the Fins

Outdoor compressor units have metal fins that can easily bend, reducing heat dispersion. Use a fin comb to straighten bent fins, ensuring optimal airflow. While fin combs are available, it’s best to leave this task to your HVAC technician during maintenance to avoid exacerbating the problem.

Clean Up Around the Outdoor Unit

Take a moment and look around the outdoor unit of your air conditioner. If you see loose leaves, debris, or sticks, remove them. You want to ensure that any bushes or tree branches are at least a few feet away from the air conditioner. This will ensure a free flow of air through the system.

The Best Local Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Company

At Perfect, Plumbing Heating & Air, we aim to please with quality service, knowledgeable technicians, and high-quality parts. You can rest easy knowing that whatever task you need us to perform is going to get done promptly and in the right way. Our service professionals are prompt, polite, and dedicated in everything they do. We are passionate about delivering exceptional results tailored to your needs.

Our services include general plumbing repair, pipe repair, and water heater, sump pump, water filtration, and water softener installation. We also offer HVAC installation, maintenance, and repair. This includes installing heat pumps and ductless air conditioners and performing indoor air quality testing. If you’re located anywhere in the vicinity of Boise, ID, contact us at Perfect, Plumbing Heating & Air today, and let us show you why you can trust us to put your family’s needs first.

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