Every commercial property in the Phoenix area needs a high-performing and reliable air conditioner. Commercial AC systems play an important role in ensuring business continuity and protecting employees and inventories. Even the slightest indication of problems warrants a call for service. Following are six signs that your commercial air conditioner needs repairs.

1. Your Air Conditioner Is Short-Cycling

Short-cycling is when air conditioners turn on and then rapidly turn themselves back off after just a few minutes of activity. These short bursts of cooling have a limited impact on building temperatures, and they’re often a sign of serious distress.

Common causes of short cycling include dirty HVAC air filters, blocked air ducts or vents, and dirty evaporator coils resulting from poor general maintenance. In fact, all of these issues are maintenance-related. If you haven’t scheduled a professional AC tune-up service in a while, this is the most likely reason why your air conditioner isn’t performing as it should.

Oversize air conditioners short-cycle as well. Their higher-than-necessary capacities keep them from supplying even and consistent cooling. However, this cause occurs from the beginning of ownership. If your commercial air conditioner has only just started short-cycling, your cooling problems aren’t size-related.

Another common reason why air conditioners short-cycle in commercial facilities is closed HVAC air vents. You may have employees who get chilly when your air conditioner is on. If HVAC air vents are positioned directly over employee cubicles or desks, your workers may choose to close their vents to create more comfortable conditions in their immediate areas.

Unfortunately, having too many closed vents throughout the building or having vent closures that are prolonged can lead to a substantial increase in static pressure within your HVAC ducting. The result is compromised airflow and eventual overheating. When air conditioners get too hot, they turn themselves off after limited periods of operation as a preventative measure. It is only after their internal temperatures drop that they’ll cycle back on.

2. Your Air Conditioner Is Making Strange Sounds

Increased air conditioner noise is a natural symptom of aging. Like residential air conditioners, commercial units are expected to last between 15 and 20 years. If you haven’t had your AC replaced in a while, loud humming noises and banging, clanging, or whirring sounds during operation may be an indication that your cooling equipment is about to fail. Even if an older AC still has some life left in it, an increasingly noisy operation is a cue to start preparing for replacement.

Loud noises can also be the result of pest problems within your HVAC ducting or in other areas of your HVAC system. They may be a sign of worn, faulty, or broken components; excessive build-ups of debris; and negligence-related AC stress. If you’ve just turned your air conditioner on after a long period of dormancy and are dealing with excessive sound, turn it back off and schedule a maintenance appointment. Having the underlying problem diagnosed and resolved right away will limit your repair costs and prevent total system failure.

3. Indoor Humidity Levels Have Increased

Increases in humidity are a consequence of short-cycling. Shorter than normal cooling cycles don’t give commercial air conditioners adequate time to extract excess moisture from the air. This issue is especially noticeable when dirty HVAC air filters are the underlying cause of short-cycling. Dirty air filters also lend to excess humidity, both inside the building and within HVAC air ducts.

Although air conditioners can continue functioning with noticeable humidity issues, continuing to run your unit without first scheduling repairs can result in overheating, damaged internal components, and compressor failure. It can also set the stage for mold problems. If your air conditioner is running but your workspace feels muggy, clammy, or downright oppressive, schedule AC services. Changes in indoor humidity are often paired with dank and musty odors and significant decreases in indoor air quality (IAQ).

4. There Are Hot and Cold Spots Throughout the Building

Central air conditioning systems are designed to cool buildings uniformly. If you have a single thermostat that controls heating and cooling throughout your facility, all rooms should have the same temperature or comparable temperatures. Keep in mind, some areas of the building could be naturally warmer than others due to larger window sizes, increased exposure to direct sunlight, and the resulting solar heat gains.

If you have an office that’s near your server room, residual heat from your servers could make the temperature in this space a bit higher than everywhere else. However, if hot and cold spots suddenly develop without changes in equipment, building layouts, or activities, this is a sign of AC problems. Have your maintenance team check and change your HVAC air filters. If this troubleshooting measure doesn’t quickly resolve the issue, you should put a licensed HVAC contractor on the job.

5. Roof-Mounted Components Have Structural Damage

If you have a roof-mounted air conditioner, any structural damage to outside components should be reported right away. This remains true even if this damage doesn’t have an impact on temperatures within the building or general AC performance. Roof-mounted cooling equipment should always be visually assessed by your maintenance team after major hailstorms, windstorms, or other severe weather events.

6. The Costs of Running Your AC Have Significantly Increased

One less obvious sign of changes in AC performance is an increase in your energy bills. This might be due to a rise in your cooling costs, but in a commercial facility, it’s easy to attribute higher energy consumption to other factors. If the number of your employees has remained consistent and if you haven’t added any new appliances or new equipment, it’s probably a good idea to have your air conditioner checked out. Both residential and commercial cooling systems experience noticeable and progressive losses in efficiency as they near the ends of their lifespans. You can offset these efficiency losses by having your air conditioner tuned up more often, staying on top of AC filter changes, and making sure that all HVAC air vents throughout the building remain fully or at least partially opened. However, none of these measures will prevent the eventual need for AC replacement entirely.

Sizing and Capacity Issues and How They AC Impact Performance

There are also times when commercial air conditioners simply stop being suitable for the spaces they’re intended to serve. For instance, an air conditioner that worked well before could struggle to keep up with cooling demands if any of the following situations occur.

  • New heat-generating equipment or appliances
  • Structural modifications
  • Decreased number of trees outside
  • Increased number of in-building employees

Whenever significant alterations are made to commercial facility layouts, equipment types, or operations, it’s important to discuss their potential impacts on cooling systems. System adjustments may be required to accommodate these changes. In some instances, supplementary, single-room cooling systems are necessary for offsetting the substantial heat generated by in-building technologies. At other times, the resulting sizing problems require total AC system replacement.

We proudly serve Chandler, Arizona and the Phoenix Metro area. We offer commercial heating and air conditioning installation, maintenance, and repair services. We also provide smart thermostats, ductless systems, and indoor air quality solutions. To schedule an appointment for commercial AC repairs, contact Emergency Air Heating Cooling & Plumbing.

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