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


The summer heat can be brutal, and not having air conditioning (AC) on hand can make it even worse. If you’re in this situation, fear not—there are several ways to tell if your AC system has actually broken down completely or if there’s another problem at play. Here are five ways to tell if your AC is broken.


HVAC 101 Everything you need to know


Symptoms #1: High Energy Bills

One of the clearest signs that your air conditioner is broken is an unusually high electric bill. With an older model, you can usually check right on your energy usage meter to see if you’ve hit a record level. However, it’s not as easy with newer models that aren’t constantly registering data. If your cooling system has been running nonstop and your bill is much higher than normal, there’s a good chance there’s something wrong. In some cases, like after a power outage or during a heat wave, you may get hit with extra charges at peak times because of higher demand; however, if your bills don’t drop back down after things have settled down again then it’s time to call in professional help and have someone look at it for you.


The best way to reduce your cooling costs is by investing in a programmable thermostat, which automatically adjusts your temperature settings based on when you’re home and when you’re away. This reduces energy consumption and keeps your house comfortable without needing to be constantly adjusted by hand. When it comes time to replace an older system or install a new one, be sure that you look at Energy Star models as they have been certified by independent parties as being among the most efficient air conditioners on the market. You can also earn tax credits if you purchase a qualified model through a state or local government program or through your utility company.


Symptoms #2: Cool Air is Leaking In

When an AC unit is damaged, it often means that cool air is escaping and warm air is leaking in. This means you’ll feel more cold air blowing in through your windows, even when your thermostat indicates that it’s set at a comfortable temperature. If you notice cool air coming in through cracks or gaps near your windows, you may need some minor work done on your home to keep it sealed properly. Otherwise, check in with Valley Comfort Heating and Air – they should be able to quickly diagnose any issues that could be causing airflow problems.


If you can see a possible source of air leaks, then check around doors and windows for drafts. Are there any spots in your walls or around your door where you can feel cold air coming through? Use caulk or weatherproofing spray to fill any holes you find. If you’re worried about getting these issues fixed as quickly as possible, contact Valley Comfort Heating and Air. They will be able to fix issues like these immediately so that you won’t have to worry about further damage. Even if they aren’t able to fix things right away, they can probably still come up with some creative solutions until they have time!


Symptoms #3: Dusty Discharge

An easy way to tell if your air conditioner is broken is by looking at it from outside. The discharge from an air conditioner should be clear, but if you see a dusty-looking substance being pumped into your ducts, that’s a sign that something is wrong with your unit. Some things might clog up your system’s outlet, but others can cause even bigger problems. For example, if there are little particles that are getting blown out of other vents, they could get stuck in other parts of your HVAC system and even result in damage down the road.


If you see an accumulation of dust in your ducts, or if there’s a strange or unfamiliar smell coming from your system, that can be a sign that something is wrong. If you have any reason to suspect that there may be a problem with your air conditioner, it’s always a good idea to contact a professional before things get worse. Valley Comfort Heating and Air offers 24/7 emergency air conditioning repair service so no matter what time of day or night it is we’ll be there as soon as possible. And while you might think our job would involve just fixing broken units, one of our most important jobs is educating our customers on how they can better maintain their equipment so they don’t need repairs as often in the future.


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Symptoms #4: Blowing Hot Air

If your air conditioner is blowing hot air, then you’re definitely dealing with a broken air conditioner. Most of the time, if your system is working correctly, then it will blow cold air at all times. If you notice that your A/C is blowing warm or hot air most of the time, then it may not be getting enough electricity or gas. This is often caused by a bad connection in your electrical box. Because everything in your system relies on electricity, including ignition and cooling coils, there’s a good chance that something just needs reattaching or cleaning out. That should do it—your A/C should be pumping out cool air again!


Not blowing cold air could be caused by a few different things. Most of them are easy fixes, but before you can fix it, you need to know what’s causing it. Don’t worry—we have a few good tips that will help determine whether or not your A/C is broken. Here are some common signs that your A/C is broken: Your filter isn’t working properly – If your filter doesn’t get changed regularly or if it gets clogged easily, then there might be dust particles in your system that can keep it from operating properly.


Symptoms #5: Strange Noises

If you hear a clicking, hissing or humming noise coming from your unit, something is definitely wrong. Unfortunately, these noises could also indicate other problems with your air conditioner such as refrigerant leaks. A trained HVAC technician can help you get to the bottom of any strange sounds your unit might be making. As a rule of thumb, if an air conditioner sounds louder than it used to or makes new and unfamiliar noises, it’s probably time to call in an expert.


Ac units make all sorts of noises, from a low hum when they’re running to a click when your thermostat turns them on or off. All these sounds are normal and shouldn’t make you think twice unless they change significantly. Noises can be indicators of bigger problems, so it’s important that you familiarise yourself with air conditioner noises in general as well as any new ones your unit makes now that it’s getting older. That way, if something seems out of place, you can take action right away rather than waiting until a major problem develops.


Schedule AC Maintenance For Your Broken AC


While you can certainly treat your air conditioner as a set-it-and-forget-it appliance, you’ll get better value from it—not to mention a longer lifespan—if you follow some basic preventive maintenance measures. The first step is getting it serviced annually. If your unit is more than five years old, that could be every six months. Some service plans and all warranties require it, so check your paperwork (or call!) before signing up. If possible, use an EPA-certified contractor with experience servicing air conditioning units like yours. Remember, though! You’re paying them to keep your unit in good working order—and not just any ac tech will do.


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