Common Air Conditioner Problems and How to Fix Them

As soon as the temperature rises and the outside humidity increases, you’ll be ready to turn on your air conditioner and get the cool air flowing. Of course, one of the last things you want on a hot day is a malfunctioning air conditioner. After being outside in the heat, escaping into the cool air indoors is a welcome relief! Air conditioners are vital for your comfort and your safety. It’s essential to be aware of possible air conditioner problems and how to fix them. 

Why Is It Important to Have a Properly Functioning Air Conditioner?

A functional air conditioner promotes health and safety, along with comfort. Temperature regulation protects at-risk demographics, such as the elderly and young children. Extreme heat is related to many preventable deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 600 Americans die every year due to extreme heat-related causes.

Functional, well-maintained air conditioners also keep your utility bills as low as possible. If your air conditioner is operating inefficiently, your electric bill for that season will most likely rise, and it will cost you more to cool your home than it did in previous years.

Having proper temperature regulation is vital for healthy sleep as well. When you sleep, a lack of temperature regulation can cause increased awareness, lower-quality sleep and other issues. If your air conditioner constantly runs and makes the room too cold or doesn’t properly function and leaves you sweating under the sheets, you’ll end up losing valuable hours of sleep.

Other benefits of having a functioning, problem-free air conditioner include:

  • Better air quality
  • Fewer pests and insects in your home
  • Protection from temperature fluctuations that lead to mold growth
  • Better home security due to keeping windows closed

How to Fix Common Air Conditioning Problems

If your home’s air conditioner is compromising your comfort, wallet or health, you should consider identifying the problem and seeking a solution. Normal air conditioning problems include systems that won’t turn on, refrigerant leaks, drainage problems, strange noises, faulty coils and other issues. While you may be able to fix one or two of these issues on your own, knowing when to call a professional to fix your air conditioner is crucial.

Learn about fixing common air conditioning problems below.

1. Air Conditioner Doesn’t Turn On

Sometimes, your trustworthy air conditioner won’t turn on. Even if you turn the air conditioner’s thermostat down to a lower temperature, it still won’t kick up.

Your thermostat batteries may be dead and need replacement. If the issue persists, you may need to reset your circuit breaker, especially if you’ve been using too many appliances at the same time or if the power surged during a storm.

To reset your circuit breaker, simply go into the fuse box and flip the A/C switch on. If this step does not work, do not continue to reset the circuit breaker. Doing so may cause severe damage. If you have reset your circuit breaker with no result, you may need to call a professional electrician.

2. Air Conditioner Constantly Runs

Air conditioners should turn off when the room reaches the desired temperature selected on the thermostat. Sometimes, though, air conditioners constantly run and never turn off. This problem can quickly show up in the form of higher utility bills. A constantly running air conditioner will lower its life through increased wear and tear. It may also cause freezing within the appliance.

There are several reasons an air conditioner may not turn off. One reason may be a broken thermostat. You should check that your thermostat is clean and dry. If your thermostat isn’t functioning correctly, the air conditioner will not register when the room reaches your desired temperature.

The problem may also be an airflow restriction. You can fix this problem by checking and possibly changing the air filters on your air conditioner, ensuring that no drapes, curtains, blankets or other objects are blocking the return grilles.

3. Rooms in Your Home Aren’t Cool

Sometimes, the air conditioner is running but the room stays warm. One potential problem is that your air conditioner may not be the correct size for your home. The cubic feet contained in the space, tends to require more BTU’s (British Thermal Unit) for proper cooling. An improperly sized system may be a complicated issue to resolve.

If the air conditioning system is improperly sized for your home, you will need to replace the entire system. In that case, a professional service can help design and install the new system for you.

4. There’s a Refrigerant Leak

The refrigerant is a component of the air conditioner that makes the air in your home cool. Refrigerant leaks can cause the temperature to fluctuate, meaning the air conditioner will not cool the air as it should.

Other symptoms of a refrigerant leak are an unexplained increase in your electrical bills and hissing noises coming from the air conditioner. You may also notice bright-colored liquid around the bottom of the air conditioning unit. This liquid is most likely the refrigerant fluid.

Refrigerant leaks are a severe problem for air conditioning systems. Identifying and solving refrigerant leaks can be tricky, and refrigerant fluid can be hazardous if improperly handled. For those reasons, it’s best to call in an expert for advice and service rather than trying to handle the problem on your own. A professional will know the best course of action.

5. There Are Drainage Problems

When your air conditioner works correctly, it pulls the heat and humidity from the air in your home. However, the moisture removed by the air conditioner needs a place to go.

When air conditioners don’t drain properly, you can end up with puddles on the floor and increased humidity throughout your home. This unexpected increase in moisture can lead to mold, mildew and bacteria growth around your air conditioner. You may also notice strange smells in the room.

If you suspect a drainage problem, contact a professional service to address the issue. An expert will identify and remove any clogs or obstructions in the drain. To prevent the issue from occurring in the future, be sure to schedule regular inspections and maintenance. Routine drain cleanings will keep clogs from forming.

6. There Isn’t Any Cool Air Flow

In some instances, an air conditioner will not provide cool airflow. This issue may manifest itself in two common ways. The first is that the air conditioner is running, but there isn’t any air coming out of the vent. The second is that air is coming out of the vents, but it feels more warm or hot than cool.

The solution to this issue depends on whether air is coming out of the vents. If warm or hot air is coming out of the vent, the air filter likely needs to be cleaned or replaced. If the filter is dirty, it may cause the outdoor portion of your air conditioner, called the condenser, to freeze up and malfunction.

There may also be an obstruction in one of the vents or ducts, making the compressor overheat and causing warm air to blow out of the air conditioner. If no air is coming out of the air conditioner’s vents, two solutions may be possible.

First, you may need to reset your circuit breaker — but again, beware. Do not repeatedly reset it, as doing so may cause additional issues. The other solution may be a refrigerant refill. A low refrigerant level may cause your air conditioner not to blow any air out. An EPA certified professional is required to perform this service, as improper handling of refrigerant fluid can be hazardous. Additionally, this can only be done once to an air conditioner before identifying the leak and repairing it. 

7. You Hear Loud or Sudden Noises

You may hear loud or sudden noises coming from your air conditioner. Unusual noises coming from your appliances always warrant your attention. Your air conditioner is no different. However, fixing the problem may be simple.

Your air conditioner may make several types of noises, and each sound points to a specific issue. Some of the noises you may hear include:

  • Hissing: Hissing is often the result of a refrigerant leak in your machine.
  • Thumping, rattling or banging: These noises are usually related to belts or loose brackets.
  • Screeching: A screeching sound may be related to the compressor or fan motor.
  • Buzzing: If you hear buzzing, there could be an electrical issue.
  • Grinding: Motor bearing issues tend to cause grinding noises.

For issues that you notice due to loud or sudden noises, you may need expert assistance. If the noise is coming from a refrigerant leak, a technician can pinpoint and repair the leak. If there is a belt issue causing the noises, lubrication may be the answer to solve the problem. If the compressor or fan is the issue, you will need a professional to identify the problem and resolve it.

For electrical and motor bearing issues, it is also best to call experts to solve them. This way, you’ll know for certain what the problem is with your air conditioner — guessing what’s wrong and making incorrect DIY fixes can present serious hazards. Technicians have the tools and expertise necessary to treat the problem and provide you and your family with the working air conditioner you deserve.

8. Air Conditioner Has Evaporator Coil Issues

Evaporator coils are an essential part of the air conditioning system. The evaporator coil is where the refrigerant changes from a liquid to a gas, which is a vital part of air conditioning technology. Two major issues can arise with evaporator coils — freezing or corrosion.

The first problem is the coils freezing. Freezing can happen if the coils are not getting enough warm air — since evaporator coils always have refrigerant running through them, warm airflow is necessary to keep them from freezing. If the coils freeze, your air conditioner can seize up and stop working.

The second problem is the coils corroding. Coil corrosion is a common occurrence with outdoor air conditioner units. Routine maintenance can diagnose this issue.

If you suspect frozen or corroded evaporator coils, seek professional servicing. A professional will make sure nothing is blocking the area around the filters and vents. Doing so should curb a frozen coil problem.

9. You Spot Dirty Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are vital parts of your air conditioner, as they remove the hot air from your home. If they become too dirty, they will not be able to work effectively. The machine will have to work harder, causing greater wear and tear.

Condenser coils can have problems similar to evaporator coils. These coils are typically located outside and exposed to the elements. As a result, dirt and grime quickly accumulate around the coils. The buildup may seem difficult to fix, but there is usually an easy solution.

Cleaning your air conditioner’s condenser coils will most likely do the trick. If not, a professional will use a more abrasive coil-cleaning solution or employ other strategies. It’s important to seek professional cleaning, as you might damage the coils trying to clean them yourself.

Call Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning for Professional Help

Being aware of common air conditioning problems and how to address them is important for every homeowner. Air conditioning is vital for comfort, health and happiness, and issues with air conditioning can cause unnecessary stress and costs.

You should know when to call a professional to fix an air conditioner. At Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, we have decades of experience providing quality services throughout the central Pennsylvania area. We are here to help you with all of your heating, ventilation and air conditioning needs.

Call us today at 717-697-3528 or contact us online to schedule your air conditioner consultation or repairs.