4 Indications That You’ve Got an AC Fan Problem

4 Indications That You've Got an AC Fan Problem

You may be surprised to learn that your home’s central air conditioning system relies on two separate fans. Inside your home, a blower (sometimes referred to as an air handler unit) distributes cold air throughout your house and moves it away from the evaporator coils. Outside, a fan on your condenser unit helps to keep the compressor and coils from overheating.

In both cases, these fans serve essential roles in the refrigerant cycle. Without your air handler, the refrigerant in the evaporator coils may become too cold, and the coils may freeze. Without the condenser fan, the coolant would be unable to release its collected heat to the outside atmosphere.

Because these two fans are so crucial to the proper operation of your system, recognizing the signs of trouble can help you to avoid costly future repairs. Listed below are four indications that one or both fans may be failing.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Most interior air handler units allow straightforward access to the evaporator coils for cleaning or maintenance. An AC technician can check your evaporator during your annual inspection, but simply examining the coils yourself is usually an easy process. If possible, check your AC unit’s instruction manual for detailed instructions on how to access the evaporator safely.

Once inside, check for any noticeable buildup of ice. Your AC system’s refrigerant should not be cold enough to cause water condensing on the coils to freeze, so any ice is indicative of a problem. Often, coils freeze because of a failing blower that cannot effectively move cold air away from the evaporator. If you do notice ice, call in a professional to diagnose your system.

Rattling or Squealing Blower Components

Most air handlers use a belt-driven blower system. Unlike a typical floor or ceiling fan, these systems separate the fan from the motor. Instead of powering the fan directly, a belt transfers power from the motor to the blade assembly. Belt-driven blowers are often cheaper and quieter than direct-drive fans, but they can also present some more significant maintenance challenges.

If your air handler uses a belt-driven fan, then be aware of loud squealing when the fan motor engages as this can indicate a belt problem. Rattling or grinding may also indicate a problem with the fan assembly or even a failing component in the fan motor. Fortunately, you can typically replace these components individually rather than replacing the entire blower.

Insufficiently Cold Air

Warm air from your home’s vents is usually a good indication that something has gone wrong with the refrigerant cycle. Under normal conditions, the compressor and condenser coils work together to force your refrigerant into a gaseous form so that it can release its heat. If this cycle fails, the refrigerant passing through your evaporator may no longer be able to absorb heat from your home’s air.

When you notice these symptoms, the condenser fan in your outdoor unit is an easy item to investigate. You can find the condenser fan on top of the casing, visible through protective fan grilles. If the fan doesn’t spin, then you’ve likely found your problem. An HVAC technician can help you to determine if the issue is with the fan motor itself or the motor’s capacitor.

Short Cycling

Your compressor has built-in protections to prevent overheating, and a failing condenser fan can result in a condition known as short cycling. When your system short cycles, the compressor turns on and off quickly or before your interior temperature is cold enough. If this has happened to your system, then you may notice the condenser fan runs slowly or inconsistently rather than stopping altogether.

Problems with one or both of the fans in your air conditioning system can reduce its efficiency, shorten the life cycle of other components, or prevent the system from working at all. Baton Rouge Air Conditioning and Heating can help you to get the root of fan problems before they become disasters. Give us a call today so that your family can get back to enjoying a cool home all summer long!

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