Is the A/C System Dying?

It's never pleasant to face the possibility of an A/C system dying, but eventually you or the owner of your building will have no choice but to replace the commercial air conditioner.

A cooling system approaching the need for replacement will usually give several indications of its worsening condition and pending final failure. The following information explains a few of those indicators that will help you answer the potentially costly question: "Is my A/C system dying?"

  • Significant age or poor condition: Most cooling systems should last fifteen years or longer before they need to be replaced. If the equipment has been kept in good condition through regular preventive maintenance, frequent air filter changes, and prompt repairs, it is likely to last even longer. If you think you have an A/C system dying of old age, take into consideration the age as well as the equipment's overall condition. You may yet be able to get another few seasons' use out of it.
  • Frequent or constant running: It may seem odd to think that an A/C system dying tends to run more frequently, but constant operation can be a sign that the equipment is not going to last much longer. The problem could be that the system has lost refrigerant and needs to have more added, but it can also mean that the equipment is nearing failure. Frequent operation also puts more stress on the system's components, which can cause them to break or malfunction.
  • Loss of cooling: An air conditioning system that is losing cooling capacity and general functional ability can be on the verge of a catastrophic breakdown. As noted, this could be the result of a loss of refrigerant, but it could also mean that there has been a loss of efficiency and performance that a charge of refrigerant won't be able to fix.
  • Unusual or unfamiliar noises: An A/C system dying of neglect or lack of maintenance will often produce noises that you've never heard before. Cooling systems usually operate relatively quietly, with the biggest source of noise being the blower fan moving cooled air through the ductwork. However, louder, harsher noises such as banging, clattering, rattling, or other noises that are louder than usual, or that you've never heard before, can mean the system is getting ready to break down.
  • Lack of reliability: If your A/C doesn't turn on when you flip the switch or adjust the thermostat, or if it doesn't function as well as it used to, it may be nearing the end of its life. You may notice issues such as inconsistent cooling; increased amounts of dust and other particulates in the air that indicate a lack of air cleaning; or more humidity inside your commercial building, suggesting that the A/C isn't dehumidifying the air like it should. Frequent tripping of the circuit breaker that controls the air conditioner is also an indicator of the problem. It might be connected to a bad compressor, but it could also mean that there are electrical problems and failures within the A/C that are unreliable and unsafe.
  • Spikes in your cooling bills: You probably have a pretty good idea of how much it costs to cool your building every month. If you notice unexpected increases in your monthly expenses that can't be explained by extra use or higher-than-normal temperatures, it could mean that your air conditioner is failing. When your A/C is getting closer to breaking down, it will often lose efficiency, which means it will run more frequently to keep up with temperature demands. This results in more energy usage and higher bills, along with wasted energy and money.