New Homeowner's Guide To Keeping That Old AC Chugging Along

So, you just bought a house that's at least a half century old and the AC looks like it might have been installed sometime around the Carter administration. After spending every dollar you had buying this grand old house, you're planning to  live with this AC unit for a while. Old air conditioners come with a whole host of problems that require regular AC repair. If you've never owned a house or an air conditioner before, it's helpful to recognize the symptoms of an AC problem, so you can take the appropriate course of action. Read on to find out more.

If Your AC Freezes…

You could literally walk outside one day to discover that your air conditioner isn't working and the entire condenser has frozen into a block of ice. This may look dramatic, but it's not the life-or-death situation you might be imagining. The reason this is happening is because something is causing your AC coils to cool more than necessary. This can happen because of low Freon levels, because the blower is broken, or because of a clogged and dirty air filter.

Course of Action: Turn off the AC and let the coils thaw for 24 hours. Replace the air filter. If this doesn't work, call an AC repair person for service.

If Your AC Won't Cool…

If the AC won't cool the house, this could be the result of a faulty blower, leaks in the ducts, a broken motor, or a lack of refrigerant in the unit.

Course of Action: You're probably not going to be able to fix this problem yourself. Have the AC repair person come out right away to service the unit.

If Your AC Smells…

Air conditioners can smell as well as freeze. There are a number of reasons that your air conditioner could smell—and some of them are a little more off-the-wall than others.

One of the problems could be a clogged condensate drain. The condensate drain allows condensation from the unit to drain out of the pan and onto the ground. If the drain clogs, the pan can get moldy and smells are the result.

Alternatively, it could also be dirty coils. Air inside the HVAC unit blows over the coils, cools off and goes back into the house. If the coils are dirty, the air will smell dirty. Dirty coils can be the result of everything from bacteria and pollutants in the air to debris from vermin.

Of course, these smells don't have to be coming from the AC at all—they could be originating with mold or mildew in the ducts.

Course of Action: Call an AC repair person to come service your unit and take a look at your ducts.

For more tips and information, speak with your AC repair person about the various things that could go wrong with your "brand new" really old air conditioner.