Seven Most Common AC Problems and How to Fix Them

When your home’s air conditioner goes on the fritz, you want to get the problem taken care of as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there could be hundreds of reasons why your air conditioner isn’t working properly. How do you know which one is affecting you? There are a few problems that are more common, and recognizing what they are is helpful when your Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing Expert is discussing routes for resolving the problem through air conditioning repair in North America. 

Here are the top six common air conditioner problems that can cause your cooling system to break down. 

1. Thermostat Problems 

Your thermostat directs your air conditioner when to start and for how long to run. If its settings are incorrect, your air conditioner may not work properly. And if the batteries have died in a programmable thermostat, you won’t be able to use it at all. Follow this quick checklist to make sure your thermostat is receiving power and working properly: 

  • Change batteries if the screen is blank (programmable models) 
  • Make sure your thermostat has power (smart models) 
  • Check that it’s switched to cooling mode 
  • Ensure your desired temperature is below the current room temperature 

2. Dirty Air Filter 

Old or inefficient air filters are notorious for turning a perfectly functional and efficient air conditioner into a slow and inefficient one. In fact, dirty filters can cause lots of problems, including decreased airflow, lower indoor air quality and higher power consumption. They can also make your air conditioner work harder and stop working if the coil freezes. 

You can easily avoid AC problems by regularly cleaning or replacing the air filter. How do you know if you should change your filters? If you can’t remember the last time you changed them, it’s almost certainly time to. But for a general rule of thumb, make sure you try to change flat filters once a month and pleated filters every three months. 

3. Frozen Condenser Coils 

Your air conditioner’s coils are important components because they release heat from your home into the outdoor air. But even in the summer, ice can form on the coils. Frozen coils won’t be able to manage the cooling process as easily, and in some cases enough ice can keep the AC from running entirely. 

Freezing can be linked to several issues, including: 

  • Dirty coils caused by a lack of annual maintenance 
  • Dirty air filters, which restrict airflow 
  • Clogged drain line, which can cause moisture buildup 
  • Refrigerant leaks, which decrease cooling power 

If your air conditioner has frozen, turn it off and let the coils thaw. This can take up to 24 hours, but you can speed up the process by switching settings to “fan only.” This will blow warm air on the coils without going through a refrigeration cycle. 

It’s a good idea to check your air filter first. If you can’t see light through it, replace it. The other issues, like dirty coils, a clogged drain line or refrigerant leaks, will require professional assistance. 

4. Refrigerant Leak 

Your air conditioning system uses refrigerant to transfer heat. When it doesn’t have enough refrigerant, you might notice you’re getting a lot of hot air. Here are a couple signs you’re dealing with a leak: 

  • Not enough cold air 
  • Home feels humid 
  • Longer than normal cooling cycles 
  • Frozen evaporator coils 
  • Bubbling or hissing air conditioner noises 
  • Sweet smell near the air conditioner 

If your air conditioner was installed before 2011, it likely uses Freon® or R-22. This refrigerant is no longer being made due to its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Only recycled quantities are available, which makes refrigerant leaks more expensive to repair. 

If your R-22 air conditioner has a refrigerant leak, we recommend air conditioning installation due to age and the refrigerant being obsolete. Newer air conditioners use Puron or R-410A, which is better for the environment. 

We understand that replacing your air conditioner can be an emergency that you aren’t prepared for. Ask us about our Advantage Program™, which gives you a new air conditioner for just one low monthly fee. Repairs and maintenance are included, and you’ll get to keep any valuable manufacturer’s rebates. 

5. Water Leak 

Your AC unit uses a condensate drain line to flush water it removes from the air. If you’ve skipped air conditioning maintenance, this drain can become clogged with mold and cause water to back up. If this happens, you’ll notice water leaking. 

Turn off your air conditioner to avoid damage and call us at 866-397-3787 for assistance. 

6. Tripped Circuit Breaker 

There can be a couple of reasons why your air conditioner keeps tripping its circuit breaker. Here are some of the most common ones: 

  • Dirty air filter is severely limiting airflow. 
  • Your air conditioner is overheating due to a lack of refrigerant. 
  • Condenser coils are dirty and restricting airflow. 
  • Condenser fan motor has broken and coils are overheating. 
  • Electrical connections are worn or loose. 
  • Blower motor is malfunctioning. 
  • Compressor is drawing too much power or wiring is faulty. 
  • Capacitor responsible for starting the compressor has gone out. 

Like we mentioned earlier, check your air filter first, as that is most commonly the culprit. Any other problems will need to be addressed by an HVAC professional like Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing. 

7. Short Cycling 

An improper cooling cycle can also be part of the problem. Short cycling is an annoying malfunction when the air conditioner turns off before the desired temperature has reached the rest of the house. If you think your air conditioner is short cycling, listen to how long the air is running before it turns off. Your average air conditioner typically runs for 15 to 20 minutes and stays off for about the same period of time. But when it’s short cycling, your cooling is switching on and off in short bursts. 

This puts heavy strain on moving parts and key components like the blower motor. Short cycling or any form of irregular cooling cycles are often caused by overheating. The internal chamber gets too hot before safety components switch the AC off. This happens over and over, especially if the root cause of the overheating isn’t addressed. 

Trust the Experts for Your Air Conditioning Repair and Maintenance Needs 

The number one way for you to prevent air conditioning problems is to participate in a preventive maintenance program. At Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, we offer several HVAC memberships to fit your needs and budget. Bad wiring, low refrigerant and dirty coils can be discovered and corrected during routine tune-ups. 

Sometimes repairs are inevitable, but as a maintenance member, you’ll enjoy special discounts on service, 24/7/365 priority service, no trip or overtime charges and more. Ready to enroll in a membership program or to schedule your repair appointment? Call us at 866-397-3787 today! 

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