Critical Equipment Defects in Air Conditioning

Often our air conditioning inspections will show up some critical defects in air conditioning equipment. In this article, we describe some typical defects we have encountered in the course of our inspections.

We have standard checklists to use where we list the types of critical problems that we find in air conditioning or heat pump systems. This air conditioning/heat pump inspection guide lists critical air conditioning system defects which a building inspector or owner will always be should always be made aware once their air conditioning inspection is completed.

Critical defects fall into two kinds. The first critical defect will be when examination of a building component and equipment present an immediate, significant safety hazard. Further defects are those likely to involve significant repair or replacement cost, and also involve components or systems, which are necessary to occupy and use the building.

Some defects are shown here:

  • Air conditioning compressor needs replacement.
  • Cooling is delivered to only part of the building, e.g. only to one floor.
  • Unsafe return air intake which may draw in carbon monoxide at heating equipment indicating possible duct defects which could indirectly distribute toxic mould, gases or chemicals.
  • Uneven air supply resulting in uneven temperatures.
  • Inadequate cooling capacity for building.
  • Low temperature split (indicating inadequate cooling due to refrigerant leak.
  • Refrigerant leaks at condenser or evaporator coils (usually requires replacement of coil.)
  • Dirty air handler. (Major expense to clean properly.)
  • Leaking return ducts in crawl space.
  • Unsafe electrical wiring showing evidence of overheating or over fusing at the service cut-off, in the electrical panel and service cut-off by the compressor/condenser

We sometimes find that air conditioning systems have not been allowed adequate time to power up. Many air conditioning systems must be left with power turned on for twenty-four hours prior to running the equipment. This allows heaters at the compressors to assure good oil flow in those components. Operating the equipment without this power up process risks very costly damage to the compressor.

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