Your air conditioner and heater are both made up of a number of important parts that are necessary to make them run. You have your compressor, your coils, your blower fan, your heat exchanger, and so many others. However, one you may have heard of before is your air handler, and while you may know of it by name, you may not necessarily know what it does. That means when there’s a problem with it, you may not necessarily be able to recognize or repair it.
Should your air handler reach the end of its useful lifespan, you’ll probably need to replace it. However, how do you know when this time has come for you? The easiest way is to speak with a professional heating and cooling expert who can help you make this decision, but there are a few signs you can and should keep an eye out for that will tell you if you need to replace your air handler.
What Does an Air Handler Do?
Your “air handler” is a convenient way to refer to the indoor unit of your air conditioner or heat pump heating system. As the name implies, this part of your system handles the air that is pumped in by your blower fan, including cleaning it, cooling or heating it, and then sending it out to the rest of your home through your duct network.
Air handlers are thus the point where perhaps one of the most important parts of the heating or cooling cycle occurs. When your air conditioner is on, your air handler is where heat in this air is absorbed into the cooling coil while simultaneously removing vapor and humidity from the air. This leaves the air cooler and drier when it exits out to your home. When your heater is on, the air pumped through your air handler absorbs the heat from the coil, warming it before it is sent out to your home.
Signs You Need to Replace Your Air Handler
In a perfect world, your air handler will be a matched set with your outdoor condenser system, enabling both of these systems to operate at peak capacity and energy efficiency. However, our world is not perfect and there may come a time where you need to replace your air handler while your outdoor unit may have several years of life left.
Here are four signs that it might be time to replace your indoor unit:
- Your air handler frequently freezes during summer: A frozen air conditioner typically happens when airflow over your indoor coil isn’t strong enough to allow the refrigerant in the coil to absorb enough heat. When this is the case, vapor that comes into contact with the coil instantly condenses and freezes, resulting in ice. Over time, this ice steadily builds up, eventually blocking airflow through the handler and preventing refrigerant from properly warming. Eventually, this causes modern air conditioners to shut down until the coil can defrost. While this could be caused by a dirty air filter, a dying air handler will also struggle with this issue.
- Your airflow is weak or inconsistent: Weak airflow can have a number of different causes. We’ve already explained how a dirty air filter can cause weak air, but did you know that holes or large cracks in an air handler can also contribute to this problem? They can also contribute to reduced air quality by allowing mold and mildew to take root and grow. Finally, they can be a sign of a dying blower motor, and a dying blower motor can lead to excessive wear and tear on coils and other important components, leading to the need to replace your air handler completely.
- Your indoor unit needs more than one major repair every year: Oh no, your air conditioner has quit on you yet again. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s yet another problem with your air handler. However, while your system may be out of warranty, it isn’t old and your outdoor unit has been as reliable as they come. In this instance, it may be a better decision to do away with your old, broken air handler and invest in a new system that’s closely matched to your current condenser.
- You’ve noticed a huge spike in your energy bills that can’t be explained: Every California homeowner dreads opening their energy bill during the summer months purely because they know what awaits them: a number that is anywhere from cringe-worthy to straight-up nightmare fuel. However, if your electric bills are extremely high and you can’t really figure out why, then a faulty air conditioner may be the reason for it. Sure you may feel comfortable, but a system that has problems is going to burn through far more electricity than it should. If a technician figures out that your air handler is the issue, then consider replacing it with a more efficient one!
Call All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electrical at (909) 253-0664 today to get the finest, highest-quality services for your air conditioning system.