Your Guide to 5 Common Air Conditioner Issues

When air conditioners are properly maintained, they can last for many years with relatively few issues. However, when problems do occur, especially during the hottest months of the year, the heat in your home can become practically unbearable.

Read on to learn about some of the most common air conditioner issues homeowners face, including the most likely causes of each one.

Want to speak with a professional about your AC issues? The technicians at Morrison Plumbing, Heating and Air are available Monday through Friday, 7 AM until 7 PM, and Saturdays from 8 AM until 4 PM. 24/7 emergency service is available as well!

1. The AC unit won’t run. (There’s zero airflow.)

Before worrying about replacing an expensive part or the entire unit, go to your circuit breaker panel. Your air conditioner probably just tripped a breaker, and the only thing you’ll need to do is reset the breaker. If you have a fuse box instead, your AC might have caused a fuse to be blown. If this particular problem persists, you may have an electrical issue with your wiring or circuit breaker panel.

Alternatively, you may be experiencing a less common scenario, such as an issue with a faulty thermostat, an old or bad blower belt, or a full condensate pump reservoir.

2. The air coming out of your vents isn’t cooling.

This particular problem can be tricky to troubleshoot without a technician because there are a variety of possible causes.

Sometimes the fix might be as simple as adjusting your thermostat. Occasionally thermostats get switched accidentally to the “heat” setting. Also, if your air conditioner is switched “on” but is not set to “cool” or “automatic,” its fan will continue to blow whether the air is being cooled by the unit or not.

Dirty, clogged air filters can also cause a number of problems with your AC, including a decreased ability to cool air. If your air conditioner is having trouble, it’s always important to check your air filter, even if you think you’ve just cleaned or replaced it recently.

Causes of this problem that are harder to detect on your own include a blocked condensate drain or a low refrigerant level. In these instances, it’s best to call a technician. Keep in mind: a low refrigerant level means that there is a leak somewhere through which refrigerant is being lost. If low refrigerant is the problem, there’s a leak that must be fixed. Refrigerant does NOT need to be regularly filled up.

Something most people don’t know: despite your thermostat’s temperature settings, the average air conditioner can only cool your home to about 20 degrees lower than the outside temperature. Therefore, if it’s 110 degrees F outside, your home probably won’t get much cooler than 90 degrees F at best.

3. The AC unit / AC coils are frozen.

This is another AC issue that could be caused by various factors. One reason that AC units “ice up” is a lack of sufficient airflow across the evaporator coil. Insufficient airflow could be the result of a dirty, clogged air filter or something causing an obstruction in your air ducts.

Other common reasons for frozen AC units include a low refrigerant level or some kind of mechanical failure, such as a damaged or malfunctioning blower fan, damaged refrigerant lines, etc.). Sometimes simply cold weather can be the culprit.

4. The air conditioner makes weird noises when it runs.

Air conditioners make noise when they run (you’re probably used to the sound of yours turning on), but there are some sounds that indicate a problem. If you hear a grinding noise, this means that there’s probably an issue with the unit’s motor. A squealing sound usually indicates that the belt has become misaligned or that it has simply worn out.

Sounds in ductwork tend to mean something different. If you hear metal sounds like pinging or rattling in your ductwork, certain panels and fittings probably need to be tightened.

5. The AC unit is giving off a bad or strange odor.

It’s important to pay attention to your air conditioner unit’s smells, as certain odors indicate problems that could lead to really expensive repairs if ignored. If your unit is giving off a metallic/electrical odor, it could mean that its parts are overheating, either due to a malfunction or insufficient airflow (check those air filters!). Burning smells can also occur when the unit gets too crowded by foliage or clogged with debris.

If you’re experiencing an AC issue, the professionals at Morrison Plumbing, Heating and Air are ready to provide you with reliable AC installation and repair services.