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The best ways to avoid air conditioner breakdowns.

By National Refrigeration July 22, 2018

Whether you depend on your cooling system at home, the office, or a public-service facility, it’s important to think about the interior and exterior parts of your unit before the sweltering heat and humidity arrive for three major reasons:

1. Preventative maintenance can let you enjoy uninterrupted air quality and comfort

2. Avoiding emergency service calls will save you a lot of money

3. Developing a relationship with your service provider builds trust


Going over our data from five decades in the business of heating and cooling reveals people typically make the choice to “not fix it if it’s not broken.” Sometimes these people and businesses suffer the consequences of ignoring the major reasons mentioned above to regularly service units. Other times, the units run fine... for the first year or so.

National’s technicians are factory trained and courteous.

What can go wrong with air conditioning systems?

This is a good place to discuss reason number three to schedule periodic service: trusting your HVAC service provider. Having confidence in the ability and honesty of any service provider makes decisions easy and free from worry, especially if what they are servicing is a mystery to you. It’s okay—not everyone is an expert in heating and cooling, and when you find a client-centric company with educated and courteous technicians, you don’t need to be.

Transparency and customer education are critical to building the type of service relationships that last from one generation to the next. Big, costly repairs may be profitable to fly-by-night companies, but for service providers who want to keep customers for the long run, small maintenance repairs that prolong the life of units are the goal because happy customers are loyal. Generally, the most costly repair on a unit you want to avoid is replacing the compressor, which can cost up to $2,000 or more. Below is a list of the most common problems that left un-repaired will eventually cause a compressor to fail. Every one of these issues can easily and inexpensively be fixed by periodic maintenance:

  • Dirty filters. If your filter is dirty . . . great! It’s doing its job. Sand and grit that built up over winter and blows around in spring, along with the pollen, can wreck a unit if the filter fails. So, a dirty filter is an effective one, but it can’t stay that way. A clogged filter will inhibit airflow and make your unit work harder than it should, which increases your electric bill and reduces the life of your unit.
  • Low charge. In a perfect world, the refrigerant in your unit would last forever because it isn’t “used up” while circulating through the system. A unit only loses refrigerant when there’s a leak, which in older units typically happens through pinholes in the copper tubing caused by corrosion. Not only are refrigerant chemicals harmful to the environment, but a low charge causes longer, inefficient run times and damages the compressor. Cleaning the coils regularly can combat pinhole leaks and periodic refrigerant charge testing can detect leaks before damage is done.
  • Broken fan. The condenser fan motor spins the blades that blows air over the condenser coil to cool the refrigerant. When this fan doesn’t work, your unit will blow hot air and become hot to the touch. Getting this problem serviced as soon as possible may prevent critical damage to the compressor.

Easy solutions for preventative maintenance

Mini-splits and heating and cooling units with heat pumps both have exterior components. Often these boxy machines are tucked away out of site as to not detract from the curb appeal of the building. But, you can avoid breakdowns and unnecessary service calls if you keep them in mind when you’re landscaping.

What does lawn care have to do with HVAC?

  • Plant growth. Bushes are a great way to hide exterior unit components, and it’s important to regularly trim those bushes back throughout the summer. Your service technicians will appreciate it, and your unit will stay cooler and be less likely to overheat. Whenever you mow your lawn, also check to make sure the bushes and other vegetation, like climbing plants, don’t suffocate the air intake of your unit. Poor airflow will cause the same issues as a dirty filter.
  • Be mindful of weed wacking. When you remove the vegetation potentially inhibiting airflow to your unit, consider pulling it by hand. Not only can the weed wacker damage delicate cooling fins, it can also severe electrical wiring and send debris into the unit causing fans to seize and other problems.
National’s technicians are factory trained and courteous.

About National Refrigeration
Since 1969

National Refrigeration is a unique family company: one where we share our focus on our family of employees with yours. That’s why we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee. We know that our reputation is on the line with every job that we do and will settle for nothing less than perfection. It’s been that way since our modest beginnings in 1969.

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Phone: (401) 737-2000
Mail: 3600 West Shore Rd., Warwick, RI 02886
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Whether you need 24-7 emergency service or advice on improving your everyday air quality and comfort—at home and at work—call us at 401-737-2000 or email us.