They say knowledge is power, and that’s definitely true when it comes to your air conditioner. While complex repairs are best left to professionals, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of your air conditioner and how to solve general AC issues.

Understanding how your AC works and the typical problems it faces will allow you to tackle little problems without needing to call an HVAC specialist every time. This not only saves you money 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 part 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 not sure about any aspect of your air conditioner's operation or maintenance.

Here are some frequent questions people ask our experts about their air conditioners:

1. How Do I Clean an Air Conditioner?

Cleaning an air conditioning system is a smart way to make sure it operates efficiently, and very well could extend the life of your unit.

The most effective thing you can do on your own is to swap out the air filter in your air conditioner. The filter captures dust, pollen, pet hair and other debris, and removes those contaminants from the air circulating inside your home. If your AC filter becomes clogged, the air conditioner has to work harder than it is supposed to in order to force air through the filter. A clean filter traps the airborne debris while still enabling air to flow freely through the system.

Replacement filters can be purchased at most major home improvement stores, hardware stores or can be purchased 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 go shopping, taking care to write down the size of the filter. If you’re not familiar with filters, it’s also a smart idea to note the filtration level of the current filter if you are wanting to buy something similar.

For comprehensive service of your air conditioner, contact the seasoned professionals like the crew at Three Rivers Heating & Cooling to do routine maintenance on your AC. They’ll inspect your system, clean or lubricate parts that need cleaning and look for worn-out parts and potential issues.

2. How Do I Clean Air Conditioner Coils?

In addition to making certain that your indoor AC unit is functioning efficiently, it’s also a good idea to tend to your outdoor unit. Cleaning the coils on the outside unit of your cooling system is a quick 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 into the outside air. This brings down the temperature of the refrigerant, which then goes back into your home so it can take in more heat from the air within your home. Cleansing the fins and the coils is a way to 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 the power switch off, as opposed to turning the thermostat off.

2) Take off the top of the outdoor AC so you can reach 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 then working your way down. Commercial coil cleaners are on the market and commonly found in both the canned aerosol spray from as well as brands foaming solutions that are sprayed on with an attachment to your garden hose.

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

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

3. How Long Do Air Conditioners Last?

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

One of the best ways to get the most mileage out of your HVAC is through AC conditioner maintenance. Tuneups from Three Rivers Heating & Cooling features cleaning and inspecting the machinery, as well as changing out the dirty filter and repairing any worn-out or broken parts. To keep your unit operating a long time, call us today to schedule air conditioning maintenance in Portland.

4. What Size Air Conditioner Do I Need?

Selecting the right size of air conditioner for your home is critical for achieving comfort and efficiency. Here are some elements to think about when deciding what size air conditioner you need for your home:

  • Square footage: The total area of the space you want to cool is one of the biggest factors. Larger spaces necessitate more cooling power.
  • Home insulation: Well-insulated homes retain cool air better, which can reduce your cooling needs.
  • Climate: If you live in a hotter climate, you'll require a more powerful air conditioner compared to a person living in a cooler place.
  • Number of windows: Windows often let in heat, in particular when they're south-facing or not well-insulated.
  • Number of occupants: More people in the house produce greater body heat, which can impact your cooling needs.
  • Existing HVAC system: The size and capability of your current system can provide a place to start for determining what you need.

Because the size of your AC is so essential 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 variables 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 excellent air conditioning installation in Portland.

5. How Much Does an Air Conditioner Cost?

While prices fluctuate depending on the size of the unit and your home’s unique needs, a new air conditioner generally costs between $5,000 and $12,500 to purchase and install. On the plus side, a benefit of air conditioning replacement is that new air conditioners are crafted to be exceedingly efficient, so they do more with less power when compared to older units.

The price tag 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 along with federal regulations that require modifications to the design.

Realize these are average costs and prices can fluctuate. It's always smart to get numerous quotes from trustworthy HVAC companies before making a decision. If you’re considering air conditioning replacement in Portland, reach out to Three Rivers Heating & Cooling. We will schedule an appointment to provide you with a complimentary estimate, describe the process and help connect you with available rebates or discounts.

6. What Causes an Air Conditioner to Freeze Up?

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

Here are some typical reasons for AC freezing up:

  • Insufficient airflow: If the air isn't flowing easily through your AC system, it can't adequately absorb heat. This could be due to a plugged air filter, obstructed return air ducts or a failing fan.
  • Low refrigerant levels: If your air conditioner is running low on refrigerant, it can get too cold and freeze up. This is frequently because of leakages in the refrigerant lines.
  • Frosty outdoor temperatures: Using an air conditioner when it's too cold outside can cause the system to freeze. The majority of units aren't designed to operate in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
  • Mechanical failures: Faulty thermostats, damaged blower motors and issues with the relay or control board can all contribute to an AC unit freezing up.

Three Rivers Heating & Cooling is the Trusted Source for Air Conditioning Service in Portland.

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

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

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