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(707) 539-4533 |  Sonoma Napa and Marin Counties

Air conditioners can be pretty pricey appliances. Between the cost of buying the new unit and having it installed, replacing an old air conditioner is an expense that’s definitely not to sneeze at. Luckily, today’s AC units are typically built to last, and you can easily use the same air conditioner for a decade or longer without having to replace it.

However, that doesn’t just mean you can turn your AC on and ignore it for the next ten years. Like any machine, air conditioners require a certain amount of maintenance and the occasional repair to stay in tip-top shape for years on end. Any HVAC contractor can help you out with the repairs, but it’s still important for any AC owner to know a little bit about the unit so you can stay on top of things. Sticking to a consistent maintenance schedule and keeping an eye out for any potential problems will go a long way toward keeping your air conditioner up and running for the next five, ten, or even fifteen years without any significant costs to you. We’ve put together this post full of tips and basic information you can use to stay ahead of any serious repairs or replacements.

HVAC 101 Everything you need to know


What are the Signs that Your AC Needs to be Repaired?

Even the most well-maintained air conditioning unit will require some attention now and again. As the years go by, parts start to wear down and the occasional fix is needed. While the actual AC repair should be handled by a professional HVAC technician, the job of catching potential problems ultimately falls on you as the homeowner. Luckily, the symptoms can be pretty simple and easy to spot if you know how to look for them.

  • A/C is Blowing Warm Air – Many homes have heating and cooling systems connected to the same ducts so the air can come out either warm or cold. However, if you’re running the AC, you should only ever feel cold air coming from the vents. If the air is coming out warm or even just room temperature, there’s likely something wrong inside the unit.
  • Weak Air Flow – When you first installed your AC, you or your HVAC contractor likely found a system with the right BTU rating for your space. If you’re getting cold air from the vents but there just doesn’t seem to be enough of it to make a difference, then something is wrong. This problem is often caused by dust or dirt building up somewhere in the system and a good cleaning is often enough to get things running smoothly again.
  • Strange Noises or Odors – For the most part, we all tend to tune out the sound of our air conditioners running. Still, it’s pretty easy to tell when something sounds different inside the unit. Grinding, squealing, or scraping noises often signify a mechanical problem with the air conditioner and you should have it looked at right away. The same goes for a strong smell coming from the vents, which could mean a burnt-out wire or mold somewhere in the system.
  • Moisture Leaking From the Unit – This particular symptom is more difficult to spot without actually taking a look at the air conditioner, but it could signify a few different problems. Water dripping from the AC unit can mean there’s a clog in the drain line, or potentially ice forming on the coils inside. More serious, however, is a refrigerant leak. If the actual freon is leaking from the unit, not just water, it could present an environmental hazard and should be taken care of as soon as possible.
  • Spike in Power Consumption – Most problems with your air conditioner will result in a loss of efficiency in the system, whether that’s from air being blocked in the vents, low refrigerant levels, or something else entirely. Whatever the reason, the unit usually compensates for the reduced efficiency by forcing itself to work harder – switching on more frequently and staying on for longer. For this reason, a sudden spike in your power bill is both a symptom and a consequence of an air conditioner in need of repairs. Even if you don’t notice any other signs, it’s easy to spot when you’re suddenly being charged significantly more money than usual, and the AC is often the culprit.


Services Offered by Valley Comfort Heating and Air for AC Repair in Napa

As your friendly neighborhood HVAC contracting company, Valley Comfort Heating & Air is here to help you out with any problems your air conditioner might run into. We handle both heating and cooling repair, so our technicians can easily figure out what’s going on with your air conditioner, heat pump, furnace, or any other HVAC system. This goes for both residential and commercial HVAC systems, so business owners are encouraged to give us a call as well.


Besides repairing existing problems, our technicians can also help prevent damage before it occurs with regular AC service. The single most important thing you can do to extend the life of your air conditioner, even more important than catching issues early, is keeping up with regular preventative maintenance. The vast majority of repairs can be prevented by a yearly maintenance appointment with a reputable HVAC technician from Valley Comfort Heating & Air or another contractor. Not only will we check the parts inside the unit for any potential stress or wear and tear, but we’ll also top off the refrigerant levels and give the whole thing a deep clean before putting it back together, keeping dust from building up inside.


We also offer other HVAC-related services like air quality testing and duct cleaning, which can help protect you from mold building up in your ducts while making sure your air conditioner runs as efficiently as possible. Finally, when the time does come to retire your AC unit and find a new one, we’ll be there to help you find the right system for you and install it in your home or place of business.


Heating Maintenance


AC Repair Costs in Napa – Free Estimates

The AC repair cost you’ll experience when your unit does need fixing will depend pretty heavily on what’s wrong with it, which unit you have, and whether or not it’s still under warranty. Any reputable HVAC contracting company will offer a free, no-strings-attached estimate before you agree to any work orders so you know exactly what you’re going to pay. However, it’s tough to make that estimate without first taking a look at the air conditioner in question, and the range can be pretty wide.


As a general rule, air conditioning service costs are significantly lower than a repair bill would be, and replacing a broken part will cost more still. Yearly maintenance tune-ups rarely cost more than $200, which seems a bit expensive until you take a look at some of the other repair costs. The most important parts of any air conditioner are the compressor, the evaporator coil, and the condenser coil. Replacements for these parts can easily have price tags in the thousands, so ten straight years of maintenance appointments will often cost you less than a single coil replacement.


When your air conditioner gets older, the repairs will become more frequent, even if you’re taking good care of it. At this point, you might wonder when you should just cut your losses and pick up a new AC unit. One good rule of thumb is to take the estimate for your repair bill, multiply it by the number of years you’ve had your current unit, and compare that number to the cost of buying a new air conditioner – currently about $4,000 for a budget system, $5,500 on average, and $7,000+ for a high-end air conditioner. If the cost of the repairs times the age of the unit is higher than the cost of a new AC system, it might be time to say goodbye and look for something new.


Is Your AC Causing Health Problems?

Besides the discomfort and higher electricity bills, an air conditioner in need of repairs can also lead to indoor air quality problems for you and your family. This is especially true if there’s dirt, dust, or mold caught up somewhere in the system and contaminating the air. The most common health problem you might experience from a dirty AC is an increase in allergy symptoms. As dust, pollen, and other air conditioner allergens make their way into the air in your house, you could find yourself sneezing and coughing a lot more than usual. The best way to avoid this is to make sure every part of your air conditioner is kept clean year-round.


More serious than allergens, however, is the risk of mold spores growing in your air conditioner or up in the ducts. Mold can be hard to detect and get rid of, and can also present a serious health risk to you and your family. If you have a central air cooling system, we highly recommend having your ducts cleaned once every few years to prevent mold from growing up there. If you notice that you or other members of your household are experiencing nausea, headaches, brain fog, or other unexplained symptoms, you should get the air quality of your home tested for mold. Although most mold is annoying but relatively harmless, some mold spores can be dangerous or even deadly if inhaled for an extended period of time.


Troubleshooting Tips for Commonly Encountered AC Problems

While Valley Comfort Heating & Air is more than happy to help you with any AC problems you might run into, we know most people would prefer to handle things themselves whenever possible instead of spending the money on professional check-ups. Next time your air conditioner is on the fritz, here are a few things you can do to fix the problem yourself before you give us a call:

  • Check the Air Filter – Air filters are an important part of any HVAC system, keeping dust and other contaminants from making their way into the air in your house. Unfortunately, all that filtering makes them clogged and dirty which can block airflow from the AC to the ducts. Air filters should be cleaned or replaced about once a month, and if your air conditioner is having trouble, the first thing you should do is check the filter.
  • Check the Thermostat – Even the most well-maintained air conditioner needs the thermostat to tell it what to do. If the temperature feels off, make sure your thermostat is set correctly and the switch is set to COLD. Thermostats also need batteries to run, so check those as well!
  • Check the Circuit Breakers – Air conditioners use a lot of power, and it’s not uncommon for them to end up tripping circuit breakers while they’re running. If the AC won’t turn on at all, take a look at the fusebox and make sure it’s actually getting power. While the occasional tripped fuse isn’t a big deal, frequent trips could signify an electrical problem.
  • Clean the Vents – Just like a dirty air filter, clogged vents can prevent airflow from actually reaching your home. You can use a vacuum cleaner to suck up any dust, pet hair, and other dirt from the vents to make sure there’s enough room for air to flow freely.
  • Check the Outdoor Unit – Split-system air conditioners have two units, one inside and one outside your house. The outside unit has exhaust vents that need to be cleaned every so often for the system to run correctly.


If you’ve checked all these things and you still haven’t fixed the problem, it’s time to give us a call. If you’re in Napa or the surrounding area and you need someone to take a look at your air conditioner, you can contact Valley Comfort Heating & Air through our website here, over the phone at (707) 539-4533, or at our physical location in Santa Rosa CA.


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