If you run into issues with your home air conditioning system, don’t panic. Even the best air conditioning systems on the market will experience their fair share of glitches with enough time on the job, so don’t assume all is lost if your A/C isn’t working properly. The good news is, if you’re reading this, you’re already on the right track. This article will break down the most likely causes and easy fixes for the top 4 most common air conditioning problems you may encounter, which are as follows:
Whether you’re currently experiencing one or more of these issues with your A/C or just want to know what to expect if and when you inevitably do, we’ll go through how to diagnose these issues, determine what’s causing them and what you can do to fix them.
This problem is an easy one to identify, and chances are you’ll notice right away when your entire system shuts off. It’s easy to jump to the worst possible conclusion when this happens, but the reality of the situation will rarely match your nightmare scenario. Just because your A/C stopped working temporarily doesn’t mean the entire system has suffered an irreversible catastrophic meltdown. So, before you start looking for that old warranty and shopping for a new system, take a deep breath and approach the problem with logic and optimism.
If your entire A/C system suddenly stops working or won’t turn on, chances are this sort of malfunction can be directly linked to a singular electrical source, such as a blown fuse or circuit breaker. In some cases, the culprit could be something as simple as a flipped switch or open blower door. Internal switches & sensors will often go off automatically, which sometimes point to other issues such as overheating or excess water in your overflow tray. If none of the above apply to your system, it could also be an issue with your thermostat either malfunctioning or being improperly set.
To address these issues, first check to make sure your thermostat is working and set for cooling mode, as opposed to heating or being turned off. Next, make sure the blower door is securely shut and all of your system’s interior and exterior switches are on. You should also check and empty your unit’s condensation overflow tray just to be safe. If everything checks out thus far, see if your electrical circuit is still providing power and try resetting the circuit breaker if not. If it’s still not working, check for blown fuses and replace any that you come across. If you do all that and still can’t seem to locate the issue, let alone fix it, it may be time to call in the pros.
Another common issue that people run into with their air conditioning systems is a lack of cold air blowing. This can be frustrating, as your system is still functional and running (or, in other words, still making noise and costing you money), but it’s not performing its most important function – cooling your home. On the bright side, this issue is typically easy to diagnose and inexpensive to fix. Before you call your HVAC company, follow the steps below to see if you can resolve the issue on your own.
If your system is producing little to no cold air, chances are you’re dealing with one of two main culprits. Either there’s blockage in your system or your refrigerant levels have been depleted. Blockage can accumulate on and around several different areas within your system. Likely areas include air filters, vents and registers, and in and around compressor units. The same buildup can also occur in your ducts, and while this can cause plenty of problems, it’s not likely to be the main culprit with this issue. If blockage isn’t the culprit, chances are your lack of cold air is due to a lack of refrigerant. Without refrigerant, your system is missing the magic ingredient that allows it to remove heat and humidity to produce cold air.
First and foremost, double check your thermostat to make sure it’s turned on and the settings are correct. Next, check your outdoor condenser unit to make sure it’s not being blocked by foliage or debris. If your condenser is exceptionally dirty, this could also cause blockage, in which case you’ll want to carefully clean it. While you’re there, check your condenser coils for ice and turn the fan on to melt it if necessary. Once your condenser is in the clear, check and change the air filters in your home and clean out your vents and registers.
If none of this helps, chances are you’re going to need a professional to come refill your refrigerant. In some cases you could be dealing with faulty equipment, so have your HVAC tech check your equipment as well.
While problems 2 and 3 have similar causes and the same negative effect on your home’s comfort, poor air flow has nothing to do with your air conditioning system’s ability to produce cold air. Rather, poor air flow refers exclusively to a system’s inability to distribute and circulate that cold air. If you can feel some cold air coming from your registers – but not nearly enough of it – you’re probably just experiencing poor air flow. This is arguably the most common problem homeowners face with their A/C systems. Poor air flow isn’t a big deal for the most part, as it can normally be cured with one of several easy fixes.
The common causes of poor air flow can be divided into two categories: typical blockage; and, problems with your air ducts. Typical blockage refers to the buildup of dust, dirt and other airborne contaminants on and around your filters, registers, vents, etc. It can also refer to blockage caused by closed or covered registers and vents, which is often the culprit in cases where the poor air flow is limited to a single room or section of your home.
If typical blockage doesn’t seem to be the source of your problem, your ductwork could also be to blame. Normal buildup within ducts rarely gets to the point of completely blocking a duct, especially if you receive annual maintenance that includes duct cleaning. However, ducts can become clogged by large objects, crimped and loosened by wear and tear to a point where they start to let air out and even disconnect entirely.
As always, start by checking that your thermostat is working and your fans are turned on. Once you’ve eliminated the obvious, check your air filter to make sure it is relatively clean and replace it if necessary. If the issue persists, check all the vents and registers in your home – clean, open and unblock them where necessary.
If you’ve eliminated the possibility of typical blockage, turn your attention to the air ducts. Check all of your ducts for damages and disconnects. If you find any and have the wherewithal to make the necessary repairs on your own, go for it. If you can’t fix these yourself, or you’re unable to locate any such issues externally, it may be time to tag in a pro for a thorough inspection and duct cleaning.
The final issue we’ll get into here is the universally detested noisy air conditioner. On the bright side, you know your system is working in this case because you can’t help but hear it working, and if you’re lucky the only issue with how it works is that it doesn’t do so quietly. While it may be impossible to do so in the first place, it’s worth mentioning that an abnormally noisy AC should never be ignored, as the sounds it makes could be an early symptom of a bigger issue with bigger consequences.
When dealing with a noisy A/C, it’s important to know what your system normally sounds like and how loud it is at its baseline volume. Unfortunately, older and cheaper A/C models may not be equipped with the noise-proofing technology found on newer models, which means some systems are inherently loud. If this is the case, there’s not much you can do about it except replace your system or wear noise-cancelling headphones.
Identifying the type of sound a noisy A/C makes will help to identify the cause of the noise. If your system is emitting a whistling sound, this could be due to damaged or mismatched ductwork that doesn’t fit your A/C, or even just a badly clogged filter. If your system is rattling, possible culprits include instability from poor installation, loose or ill-fitted ductwork, loose items inside the ducts, or malfunctioning fan blades. If your system makes squeaking, squealing noises, you could be dealing with a broken blower belt or some motor shaft bearings in need of oil.
The possible solutions you can pursue to quell a noisy A/C system will again depend on the cause of the noise, as well as your willingness and ability to perform certain tasks on your own. It’s easy enough to change your filter and clean vents and registers if it does the trick, but if not, things get a little more complicated from there.
You can inspect your ducts, blower belt and motor shaft bearings for issues and possibly identify the source of the noise, but you may want a professional to handle the necessary repairs depending on how extensive they are. When it comes to any sort of DIY HVAC maintenance, the general rule of thumb is to avoid attempting big repairs if you’re not comfortable with doing so, especially if you could do further damage when things go wrong.
Above all else, no matter what A/C problems you’re faced with, try your best to never panic and always think logically. If you can keep your cool long enough to identify the problem and do some quick troubleshooting, chances are you’ll get your cool back in no time. We hope this article was able to help you deal with your A/C issues or at least give you some useful tips for future use. Thanks so much for reading and best of luck!
If you’ve done everything you can on your own and think it’s time to call in for backup, the pros at Maichle’s HVAC are standing by ready to assist you with your AC Repair however possible. Contact us or give us a call at (302) 328-4822 to learn more and schedule an appointment with one of our trusted experts.