The summer season is back, and it’s time to roll out your air conditioners and for them to do the magic they do every year. Air conditioners, which had been forgotten in the past few months, are again the talk of the town, and air conditioner problems simply cannot be tolerated.
90% of homes in the United States use some sort of air conditioning. The use of air conditioning units significantly increases in the summer as the temperature soars. However, homeowners often run into trouble once they start their air conditioners, especially after such a dormant period. Giving your units a good checkup is essential before putting them back into use.
Like all electric appliances, air conditioners also need regular tune-ups. This helps you catch any potential problems before they turn into costly repairs down the road. Being proactive here also helps to increase the average lifespan of your units.
- 1. Water Leak (Indoors)
- 2. Water Leak (Outdoors)
- 3. AC Refrigerant Leak
- 4. Dirty AC Filter
- 5. Damaged Compressor
- 6. Frozen Evaporator Coil
- 7. Capacitor Failure
- 8. Thermostat Malfunctioning
- 9. AC Making Noises
- 10. Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
- 11. AC Smells Bad
- 12. Leaking Ducts
- 13. Failure of Electric Control
- 14. AC Fan Failure
- 15. Weak Airflow
- Air Conditioner Problems Not Your Headache Anymore!
1. Water Leak (Indoors)
If you see water leaking from your indoor air conditioner unit, your maintenance is overdue! Water leaks from an air conditioner might be due to the system’s clogged condensate drain.
Often algae or fungi are produced that cause the water to back up in the pipe and into your home. Another possible reason for this AC problem could be that your condensate pump may have broken down completely and requires replacement.
Solution to water leaking indoors:
The water leak is one of the common air conditioner problems and can be fixed with the help of a technician or even a home DIY solution. The clogged condensate pipe can be unclogged using a wet or dry vacuum. You can also pour 6 ounces of vinegar in the drain line to kill fungi or algae build-up. The exact location of the drain pipe within your unit may vary, so consult the user manual beforehand.
2. Water Leak (Outdoors)
On hot summer days, you might witness a puddle of water outside the house under your air conditioner’s compressor.
This could be because of several reasons: a dry air filter, broken condensate pans, bad AC seal, improper installation, etc.
Solution to water leaking outdoors:
After diagnosing this AC issue, you should turn off your air conditioner and disconnect the power supply. Things can get tricky if this problem is not taken care of timely. You might need to call a professional for such an air conditioner problem.
3. AC Refrigerant Leak
AC refrigerant, or Freon, is responsible for cooling the air within your air conditioning system. As the name suggests, it is the substance through which an AC cools your home.
A refrigerant leak is one of the common AC unit problems and can deteriorate your air conditioner’s efficiency. Moreover, leaks can also be harmful to your health and environment. Refrigerant leaks can happen as connections degrade over time, physical damage to your unit, or severe vibrations weaken refrigerant lines.
Solution for AC refrigerant leak:
In case of a minor leak, you must top up the refrigerant and apply a minor fix. In case of a larger fault within the pipes, the whole network might need to be changed.
While recharging the refrigerant, be careful not to overcharge or undercharge the refrigerant. The performance of your AC remains top-notch if the refrigerant charge matches the manufacturer’s specifications.
You can detect the leak at home using multiple ways. Once detected, do not try to fix this air conditioner issue on your own as it can be hazardous. Call a professional promptly and fix the leak to avoid further AC problems.
4. Dirty AC Filter
Air conditioner filters play an important role in keeping the airflow clean and free from dust and pollutants. However, clogged air filters restrict the airflow, decreasing the efficiency of your air conditioning system. AC filters can get clogged as dirt particles are trapped in the filter and not cleaned for a longer time.
Solution for dirty AC filters:
Most air conditioning systems have replaceable filters that can be easily removed and replaced. In addition, if the filter is reusable, it can be cleaned by washing it with water and allowing it to dry completely before reinstalling it.
You should clean your filter every two weeks and change your air filter every two months during peak seasons when AC is used most of the time. Smart AC controllers can also help you check your system’s filter status. They notify you when the air filters are due for a cleaning session.
Pet owners should be extra careful about the air filters as pet fur can escalate the issue. However, high-quality air filters can help prevent clogs and improve indoor air quality.
If clogged filters are a recurring problem, contacting a professional is recommended.
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5. Damaged Compressor
One of the integral AC components is the compressor which helps refrigerants carry out heat exchange and regulate the AC pressure. Dirty coils, changes in refrigerant levels, and lack of lubrication can result in AC compressor failure.
If there’s insufficient refrigerant, the compressor will become hot and stop working. If more than required, the excess refrigerant will increase pressure in the unit, which can also cause it to fail.
Solution for a damaged compressor:
If your air conditioner is not cooling properly or detects a weak HVAC airflow, it is likely a compressor problem. Contact your local air conditioning service to solve this common AC problem. If there is severe damage, replacing the compressor is better than repairing it.
6. Frozen Evaporator Coil
If your air conditioner is not cooling properly, it could be due to a frozen evaporator coil. It is a common problem with home air conditioners and occurs when your unit does not receive enough air to operate normally due to debris build-up.
The dirt accumulated on the coils restricts the airflow, and warm air does not reach the refrigerant. In this case, the refrigerant becomes too cold, and moisture on the coils freezes.
Over time, the coil is encased with ice, preventing the refrigerant in the coil from absorbing latent heat. This AC problem disrupts smooth air conditioning in your home.
Solution for a frozen evaporator coil:
To diagnose this problem, first, inspect the damage. Then, let the evaporator coil thaw (defrost). Stop using the unit, and make sure to disconnect the power first. The evaporator coil usually takes 24 hours to thaw completely.
You can speed up the process by using a hairdryer. But be careful not to overheat the coil. In case of moderate frost, keep your system running on fan mode since the blower fan melts away the frost without shutting down the unit.
Read this guide to thoroughly clean your AC coils and avoid this issue in the future.
7. Capacitor Failure
Sometimes, when your AC turns on and off abruptly, accompanied by a clicking sound, it signals a capacitor issue. A capacitor is an important part of your air conditioning unit, giving the motor an initial push to start working.
The capacitor can overheat when your AC has to work hard in the extreme summer heat. Also, power fluctuations and frequent changes in the thermostat setting can damage your capacitor.
Solution for capacitor failure:
Contact a professional to get your capacitor checked. Unfortunately, you cannot repair or replace it on your own as there is a risk of an electric shock.
8. Thermostat Malfunctioning
One of the most common problems with home air conditioners is the thermostat malfunctioning. For example, if your air conditioner is short cycling and your space feels warmer than usual, a faulty thermostat is to be blamed.
There might be a serious issue due to dust and corrosion build-up or a simple case of dead batteries. Loose screws or wires inside the thermostat can also affect its functioning. If you have placed your thermostat where it gets direct sunlight, it can be another reason to impact its reading. In addition, your thermostat might not function correctly due to incorrect calibration.
Solution for a faulty thermostat:
If you have a battery-operated thermostat, check if the batteries are working fine. Then, remove the cover and take a soft brush to clean any dirt. If you notice a corrosion build-up, contact a professional, as cleaning it on your own can lead to more damage.
Moreover, check the placement of your thermostat; it is recommended to place it in a room you use frequently and move it to a shaded area.
Place a glass thermometer next to your thermostat to check for thermostat calibration. After 15 minutes, check the readings of both devices. If there’s more than a one-degree discrepancy, it’s time to recalibrate your thermostat.
You can eliminate the problems with your old thermostat by switching to a smart thermostat. You can set it according to your preference and control it using your phone. A smart thermostat also helps in saving electricity bills.
9. AC Making Noises
If you notice strange, loud AC noises from your unit, it signals an underlying AC problem. Often, people make the mistake of ignoring them, which becomes an even bigger issue. Therefore, it is better to reach the base of the problem as soon as possible.
You can experience different types of noises, each with a different tale to tell. For example, grinding sound points toward the compressor or motor failure. If there is an obstruction in the AC fan or a capacitor issue, it will make clicking noises. A bubbling noise is produced due to a refrigerant leak or excess moisture in your unit.
Solution for AC noises:
You should never ignore the AC noises and contact an HVAC professional immediately. A technician will help you determine the sound’s meaning and fix the underlying issue.
10. Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
If your circuit breaker keeps tripping repeatedly, it can be because of a variety of issues, including power surge, capacitor failure, dirty filters or coils, low refrigerant levels, compressor failure, and issues with the circuit breaker itself.
Once you notice this problem, turn off your AC and don’t try to reset the breaker, as it can cause a fire.
Solution for tripping circuit breaker:
Unfortunately, there is no DIY solution for this problem. You would have to contact a professional as a circuit breaker involves electrical components and can get dangerous. Doing this on time will help improve the average lifespan of your AC.
11. AC Smells Bad
Similar to the noises, it is important to observe what type of smell your AC produces to indicate the underlying issue clearly. For example, a pungent smell from your air conditioner is due to mold growth. A fire-like smell indicates that some electrical components are burning inside the system. A gas smell indicates leakage of Methyl Mercaptan, which can be dangerous.
If you turn on the AC after a while, you may notice a rotten egg smell coming from the unit. This is because birds and insects can enter your system and die, causing this unpleasant smell.
Solution for AC smell:
If you have just taken out your ACs after winter, an uncommon smell is nothing to be alarmed by. It should vanish soon. However, if it lingers, you have an underlying problem. Remember to thoroughly clean your air conditioner when taking it out after a dormant period.
For electrical and gas leakage issues, always call a professional for repairs.
12. Leaking Ducts
In the case of ducted air conditioners, ductwork carries the cold air to your whole house. However, if there is a leak or a hole, it could affect your AC’s functioning. Even if your air conditioner runs for a while, you will feel like it is not turned on.
Leaking ducts can affect the air quality as the holes in the ductwork can suck up dirt and other pollutants. This extra debris can also clog the air filters and lead to uneven cooling and heating in your house.
Solution for leaking ducts:
To determine this common air conditioner problem, first look for holes and tears in the ductwork. If you can’t find the holes, you can turn on your air conditioning unit at full speed to check for airflow through holes; however, this will only work if your unit blows air. Most leaks occur where the two ducts are joined, so place your hand near these joints to feel the air coming out.
After finding the leaks, use foil-faced tape to seal them. But tape isn’t a long-term solution, so using a mastic air duct sealant is better. It is a sticky substance that you apply to the holes and gaps and hardens after drying.
If you aren’t sure you will do it right, contact an HVAC expert to help you out.
13. Failure of Electric Control
Turning your air conditioner on and off frequently can cause wear and tear on the compressor and fan. This is even more probable when done repeatedly over a short period of time.
This is because the compressor and fan have to work harder each time the AC is turned on, which can lead to increased stress on the components and potential damage over time.
Power surges can also result in electrical failure. Moreover, acid can build up in your unit due to electrical failure, which causes further air conditioner problems.
Solution for a failure in electric control:
To tackle any issue related to electric control, it is better not to take things into your own hand. A professional can detect the acid build-up during tune-ups as it is a major sign of an electrical issue. In addition, regular AC maintenance can help prevent this in the future.
14. AC Fan Failure
The outside unit transfers the heat from indoors to outdoors through a fan located in the outdoor unit. If the fan outside the house does not perform efficiently, proper heat transfer does not occur. As a result, the air conditioner’s compressor may overheat or trip the safety load. The worst case is when it may cause internal damage to the compressor, leading to replacing an air conditioner.
Solution for AC fan failure:
If the fan of your system stops, then there might be an issue with the wiring of your system or some loose component somewhere. In such cases, simply remove the outer casing and visually inspect the problem.
Again, be sure to turn the power off beforehand. In most cases, though, it might be difficult for you to diagnose such an air conditioning unit problem, so it is better to call a professional and get it fixed properly.
15. Weak Airflow
If your home is experiencing cold and hot drafts or you notice pressure imbalances, it is an HVAC airflow issue. In this scenario, the fan cannot push enough air for various reasons, such as a dirty air filter or faulty blower motor.
Leaking ducts, vents blockage, and low refrigerant levels can also cause this issue. It is an annoying problem, especially in the hot summer months.
Solution for weak airflow:
For a faulty thermostat, try recalibrating it and see if it works. For vent blockage, check if a piece of furniture or a decorated item is blocking the airflow. Then, simply move it aside to fix the problem. Cleaning the filters will also help improve the airflow. In case you can’t figure out the fix, call an HVAC professional for an audit.
Air Conditioner Problems Not Your Headache Anymore!
Air conditioning systems are complex machines that require regular care and maintenance to function properly. Neglecting regular maintenance can lead to several AC problems, including reduced cooling efficiency, increased energy consumption, and even system failure.
Regular AC unit maintenance can help keep it running efficiently and prevent potential issues. With the guide above, you will be sufficiently equipped to promptly tackle the most common AC problems. It is recommended to have your AC system professionally maintained at least once a year to prevent these from occurring.