The most common reasons A/C units fail & what you can do to prevent them

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We’re helping you stay cool during our hot summer months.

News4JAX talked with a local air conditioning company about the most common reasons A/C units fail — and what you can do to prevent it.

Let’s start first inside — with your air handler unit. One of the most common reasons your A/C will shut off is if the drain pipe is clogged.

“Your drain line can back up because during wintertime when you’re not using the air conditioning much and using the heat quite often, there’s no water condensating,” said Tim Wood with Snyder Heating and Cooling.

Wood explains how to clear it.

“You can take a cup or so of white distilled vinegar, pour it in there,” Wood said as he poured the vinegar into the drain pipe. “And follow it up with two to three times the amount of hot water.”

News4JAX spoke with Wood as Snyder was performing a maintenance check on a unit. Cleaning the drain pipe is part of the service.

So is checking the filter, which you should change at least twice a year. The one in the unit that Snyder was doing a maintenance check on was dirty. An old filter can cause your A/C to break, too.

Outside, there are two other common reasons your A/C can fail. There could be a problem with the capacitor, which helps the compressor keep running.

“Most of the time, when we come out, people are, like, ‘Please, let it be the capacitor.’ Because it’s one of the least expensive repairs, and the guys all have them on their truck,” Wood explained.

One way you can help keep the compressor working smoothly is by ensuring there is nothing around it that could cause a problem.

“Some viny plants will grow in toward it, and before you know it, get wrapped around the motor,” Wood said. “Also looking for any type of ants. Ants can be really bad on electrical components.”

Anything that interferes with air passing through the unit can make it stop.

Something else you need to remember: If you’re working in the backyard or have a landscaper, you want to make sure they avoid damaging any lines or wires. If the suction line is damaged, it can cost up to $2,000 to repair. Keep in mind mulch can conceal these lines, making them harder to see.

The unit that Snyder was checking is nearly 20 years old. The homeowner is thankful he signed up for Snyder’s maintenance plan.

“It’s like a vehicle. If you keep maintenance up on mechanical things, they don’t break down as often,” said homeowner Ray Male.

In addition, Wood says, when buying filters, stick with ones that are at least a MERV 7 or 8 rating.

If you want to save some money on your electric bill, JEA suggests you set your thermostat at 78 degrees. And remember fans cool people — not rooms. So turn them off when you leave the room or the house.

About the Author:

Jennifer, who anchors The Morning Shows and is part of the I-TEAM, loves working in her hometown of Jacksonville.