Seven Most Common AC Problems and How to Fix Them

When your home’s AC system goes on the fritz, you want to get the problem dealt with as soon as possible. Unfortunately, there could be hundreds of reasons why your cooling isn’t working properly. How do you know which one is affecting you? There are a few problems that are more prevalent, and recognizing what they are is helpful when your Air Engineers Service Experts Expert is discussing options 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 stop working. 

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 run correctly. And if the batteries have died in a programmable thermostat, you’ll have to charge the batteries before you can use it. Follow this brief checklist to ensure your thermostat is receiving power and working properly: 

  • Swap out batteries if the screen is blank (programmable models) 
  • Make sure your thermostat has power (smart models) 
  • Confirm that it’s currently on 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 addition, dirty filters can cause lots of problems, including decreased airflow, lower indoor air quality and excessive power consumption. They can also make your air conditioning work harder and stop working if the coil freezes. 

You can easily minimize 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 surely time to. But for a basic recommendation, 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 at all. 

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 lessen 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 blows warm air on the coils without going through a refrigeration cycle. 

It’s smart to check your air filter first. If you can’t see light through it, replace it. The other challenges, like dirty coils, a clogged drain line or refrigerant leaks, are best handled with professional assistance. 

4. Refrigerant Leak 

Your air conditioning system needs refrigerant to transfer heat. When it doesn’t have adequate refrigerant, you may notice you’re getting a lot of hot air. Here are some signs you’re dealing with a leak: 

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

If your air conditioner was installed prior to 2011, it probably 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 correct. 

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 employ 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 retain any valuable manufacturer’s rebates. 

5. Water Leak 

Your air conditioning uses a condensate drain line to flush water it eliminates from the air. If you’ve skipped air conditioning maintenance, this drain can become plugged up 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 prevalent ones: 

  • Dirty air filter is significantly limiting airflow. 
  • Your air conditioner is overheating because of inadequate 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 defective. 
  • Compressor is drawing too much power or wiring is faulty. 
  • Capacitor responsible for starting the compressor has broken down. 

Like we discussed earlier, check your air filter first, as that is most commonly the culprit. Any other problems will need to be taken care of by an HVAC professional like Air Engineers Service Experts. 

7. Short Cycling 

An improper cooling cycle can also be part of the problem. Short cycling is an irritating malfunction when the air conditioner turns off before the set temperature has reached the rest of the house. If you think your cooling 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 air conditioning is switching on and off in short bursts. 

This adds heavy strain on moving parts and key components like the blower motor. Short cycling or any kind 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 minimize air conditioning problems is to participate in a preventive maintenance program. At Air Engineers Service Experts, we offer several HVAC memberships to fit your needs and budget. Faulty wiring, low refrigerant and dirty coils can be discovered and corrected with routine tune-ups. 

In some cases repairs are inevitable, but as a maintenance member, you’ll receive special discounts on service, 24/7/365 priority service, no trip or overtime charges and more. Ready to join a membership program or to schedule your repair appointment? Call us at 904-450-5672 today! 

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