They say knowledge is power, and that’s certainly accurate when discussing your air conditioner. While complex repairs are best left to experts, it’s helpful to have a practical understanding of your air conditioner and how to solve common AC issues.

Understanding how your AC works and the common problems it faces will allow you to handle little problems without needing to call an HVAC specialist every time. This not only saves you dollars on minor service calls, but understanding when to contact a professional can help prevent small issues from escalating into major repairs.

Your AC is a fundamental element of your home comfort. Because of that, you should always err on the side of caution and call a NATE-certified professional for air conditioning repair in Portland if you're unsure about any aspect of your AC's operation or maintenance.

Here are several common questions people ask our experts about their air conditioners:

1. How Do I Clean an Air Conditioner?

Cleaning an air conditioner is a smart way to make sure it runs efficiently, and potentially could extend the life of your unit.

The most important action you can take on your own is to change the air filter in your air conditioner. The filter traps dust, pollen, pet hair and other debris, and removes those contaminants from the air circulating throughout your home. If your AC filter becomes clogged, the air conditioner has to work harder than it is supposed to in order to move air through the filter. A clean filter catches the airborne debris while still permitting air to flow freely through the system.

Replacement filters are available at most popular home improvement stores, hardware stores or can be ordered from your local HVAC professional. A good way to make sure you get the correct filter is to look at your old one before you head out for the store, jotting down the size of the filter. If you’re not familiar with filters, it’s also helpful to note the filtration level of the current filter if you are hoping to buy something similar.

For comprehensive service of your air conditioner, contact the experienced professionals like the crew at Three Rivers Heating & Cooling to do regular maintenance on your system. They’ll examine your system, clean or lubricate parts that need it and look for worn-out parts and potential problems.

2. How Do I Clean Air Conditioner Coils?

In addition to making certain that your indoor AC unit is operating efficiently, it’s also a good idea to tend to your outdoor unit. Cleaning the coils on the exterior unit of your cooling system is an easy way to improve its efficiency and can extend the life of your entire system.

The coils, which include extensions called fins, are used to release heat from the refrigerant to the outdoors. This lowers the temperature of the refrigerant, which then goes back in your home so it can soak up more heat from the air within your home. Cleaning the fins and the coils can help them release heat more effectively.

To clean your air conditioner’s fins and coil:

1) First, turn off power to the outdoor unit. It’s best to flip off the the on/off switch, instead of turning the thermostat off.

2) Remove the top of the outdoor AC so you can enter the interior of the unit. Then, being cautious not to strain any cords or attachments, safely put the top to the side.

3) Spray a cleaning solution on the fins, starting at the top and moving down. Commercial coil cleaners are on the market and commonly found in both the canned aerosol spray from as well as products foaming solutions that are sprayed on with your garden hose.

4) Follow directions on the product to apply. For most cleaners, it's advised that you spray the product on, let the cleaner soak in for a short period of time to dissolve the grime and then softly spray it off with a garden hose. Take care not to spray too hard, because that could damage the coils or fins!

5) Secure the top back on the unit and then wait for the components to dry before turning the power back on.

3. How Long Can Air Conditioners Work?

The life span of an air conditioner changes depending on the type of unit, its quality, how well it's maintained and how often it's used. That said, industry experts say you should start thinking about air conditioner replacement after about 12-15 years.

One of the best ways to make the most of your system is through regularly scheduled conditioner maintenance. Routine checkups from Three Rivers Heating & Cooling includes cleaning and inspecting the machinery, as well as changing out the dirty filter and fixing any worn-out or broken parts. To keep your unit operating as long as possible, reach out to us today to schedule air conditioning maintenance in Portland.

4. What Size Air Conditioner Should I Have?

Choosing the right size of air conditioner for your home is crucial for achieving comfort and efficiency. Here are some points to consider when deciding what size air conditioner is right for your home:

  • Square footage: The amount of space you want to cool is one of the most important factors. More expansive spaces require more cooling power.
  • Home insulation: Well-insulated homes hold cool air better, which can minimize your cooling needs.
  • Climate: If you are living in a hotter climate, you'll want a more powerful air conditioner compared to someone living in a cooler place.
  • Number of windows: Windows frequently let in heat, especially when they're south-facing or not well-insulated.
  • Number of people: More people in the house produce more body heat, which can influence your cooling needs.
  • Current HVAC system: The size and effectiveness of your current system can provide a jumping off point for identifying what you need.

Due to the fact the size of your air conditioner is so critical to your home’s comfort, you will definitely want a professional opinion. At Three Rivers Heating & Cooling, we take the time to fully understand your family’s lifestyle, comfort needs and the many other factors such as your home’s layout and size. This attention to detail and focus on customer service is why Three Rivers Heating & Cooling is known for exceptional air conditioning installation in Portland.

5. What Does My Air Conditioner Cost?

While prices vary depending on the brand of the unit and your home’s unique specifications, a new air conditioning system generally costs between $5,000 and $12,500 to purchase and install. The good news is that new air conditioners are designed to be extremely efficient, so they do more with less power when compared to older units.

The price of an air conditioner is affected by several factors during the manufacturing process, such as the cost and availability of raw materials, manufacturing and labor costs as well as federal regulations that necessitate changes to the design.

Realize these are average costs and prices can vary. It's always smart to get numerous quotes from reliable HVAC companies before making a decision. If you’re interested in air conditioning replacement in Portland, get in touch with Three Rivers Heating & Cooling. We can provide you with a free estimate, describe the plan and help connect you with available rebates or discounts.

6. What Causes an Air Conditioner to Freeze Up?

An AC freezing up can be due to multiple factors, all of which boil down to the system's inability to efficiently transfer heat. If your unit is having issues causing it to freeze up, it is very likely time for air conditioning repair.

Here are some frequent causes of AC freezing up:

  • Poor airflow: If the air isn't flowing correctly through your AC system, it can't properly absorb heat. This could be due to a clogged air filter, something stopping air from flowing through the return air ducts or a failing fan.
  • Low refrigerant levels: If your air conditioner is running low on refrigerant, it can become too cold and freeze up. This is frequently a consequence of leaking in the refrigerant lines.
  • Frigid outdoor temperatures: Operating the air conditioner when it's really cold outside can cause the system to freeze. Many units aren't designed to perform in temperatures lower than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
  • Mechanical failures: Broken thermostats, damaged blower motors and problems with the relay or control board can all play a role in an AC unit freezing up.

Three Rivers Heating & Cooling is your Trustworthy Source for Air Conditioning Service in Portland.

At Three Rivers Heating & Cooling, we strive to make your home a comfortable and soothing place. Our qualified professionals are up-to-date on the latest industry training and trends, and are knowledgeable on a wide variety of systems. That’s why community members make us their first call for air conditioning repair in Portland and the surrounding towns.

If you’re seeking to upgrade or its time for a new air conditioner, we’ve got you covered there too, with our top-notch air conditioning installation in Portland. No matter what, we can help you solve your cooling issues!

Phone Three Rivers Heating & Cooling today at 503-213-4433 to schedule an appointment or no-cost estimate!