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Your HVAC system keeps everything cool and comfortable, but only if it is working properly. You don't have to have any repair or DIY skills to determine if your air conditioner is struggling, just look for one or more of the signs below. Finding problems now, at the first sign of trouble, can prevent costly repairs later -- and keep you more comfortable at home, too. Be on the lookout for sounds, odors and even unusually large energy bills, and you'll be able to determine just how healthy your HVAC system is.
Unusual or loud noises: If your air conditioner suddenly sounds louder than normal or seems to be working very hard, it's time to have it seen. Loud noises, including rattling, grinding and squealing are all signs that your system is not working efficiently and that it should be seen.
Soaring energy bills: If your energy bill spikes or even has a steady, ongoing increase, it could be a sign that your air conditioner is working too hard to comfort your home. Some increase in energy use is normal during the summer months, since you'll be using the system more, but a bill that seems shocking should prompt you to investigate your HVAC system and see if it's to blame.
Mildew or musty odor: If your home smells even slightly of mildew, then your air conditioning system should be seen. Mold and mildew can circulate through your home, powered by the air conditioner; this will impact your home's scent and your indoor air quality, too. Masking the odor with scents is not enough, you should have your system inspected to make sure it is safe to use.
You're too hot: If the air conditioner is constantly running, but you are still too warm, you should have it checked out. In this case, you're paying for the electricity to power the HVAC, but not getting any benefit from it. In many cases, a simple repair is all that is needed to correct this problem, so you can get comfortable again in record time.
Your system is older than you are: Older homes have legacy heating and cooling systems that could have been installed when the home was built. They may still operate, but they are likely not as efficient as a modern system. If your system is aging, it simply won't be as comfortable as a newer model and is likely to need repairs in the future. Look for the ENERGY STAR label; if your system has it, you have a more modern, efficient air conditioner. If it doesn't, you're likely spending too much each month, and risking a costly repair.
Any of these signs should trigger an inspection for your system. In most cases, you'll find that a tuneup is an affordable way to ensure your HVAC is running well and that your home is in great shape. Keeping up with maintenance on your HVAC ensures your home stays comfortable and that you are ready to entertain guests at a moment's notice.