Home Air Conditioning Systems – Tips to Avoid Breakdowns

It’s that time of year again; the weather has started heating up and many are turning to air conditioning to cool off. One of the most common residential air conditioning systems is called a central air conditioning split system. It uses a cooling coil mounted in the furnace ductwork and an outdoor unit called a “condensing unit”. These two “split” components are field connected with a copper “line set” by the system installer.

How does it work?

Central air conditioning split systems are sealed and pressurized and use circulating refrigerants to create the cooling effect for the home. The furnace blower circulates the air to lower its temperature and remove excess moisture. When everything is working properly, the result is a comfortable indoor environment, even when it may be hot and humid outdoors.

Keeping the system at peak efficiency and reliability is a combination of owner vigilance and having a competent service provider come for the more complex electrical and refrigerant repairs when needed.

What can a homeowner do to avoid breakdowns?


  • Trim back any shrubs or bushes that restrict airflow around the condensing unit
  • Have the service provider clean leaves and debris from inside the condensing unit
  • Have the service provider clean the outside condensing unit coils before each cooling season
  • Verify the condensing unit is not able to move on its pad
  • Have the service provider straighten any bent condensing coil fins with a fin comb
  • Check the wall penetration seals where the refrigerant lines enter the building
  • Check for any kinks in copper refrigerant lines and have the service provider repair
  • Check for rust on the exterior electrical shutoff box
  • Check the cables and outdoor wiring for damage from lawn care service providers


  • Check if the furnace blower motor needs lubrication
  • Clean the fan blades on the furnace blower wheel
  • Change the air filters in the furnace
  • Make sure the air registers are open and unobstructed
  • Vacuum dust and dirt off the supply and return the air registers
  • Inspect ducts for mechanical and airtightness
  • Air-seal ductwork joints or holes with UL listed sealing tapes or mastics
  • Check the condensate pump for proper flow, shutoff, and leaks
  • Clean the condensate water traps

Many of the items on this checklist can be performed by the homeowner. Be sure to add any difficult tasks or system damage repairs to the list for the air conditioning service contractor to perform during their next visit.

CLICK HERE for more tips on preventing air conditioning issues from the HSB Equipment Resource Center.

Want more information like this delivered straight to your inbox? Click the “Follow” button on the bottom of the screen and enter your email address.

© 2021 The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. HSB makes no warranties or representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the content herein. Under no circumstances shall HSB or any party involved in creating or delivering this article be liable to you for any loss or damage that results from the use of the information contained herein. Except as otherwise expressly permitted by HSB in writing, no portion of this article may be reproduced, copied, or distributed in any way. This article does not modify or invalidate any of the provisions, exclusions, terms or conditions of the applicable policy and endorsements. For specific terms and conditions, please refer to the applicable endorsement form.

One comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.