Summertime is the best time of year, right?
Well, usually, with the mercury rising into triple digits day after day, it can be tough to keep cool without air conditioning.
But if your AC unit is on the fritz, summer can quickly become a living nightmare. Before you reach for your phone to call an HVAC technician, try troubleshooting some common issues yourself.
There is no reason why air conditioning units should not last for as long as 10-15 years.
However, if you feel that your air conditioner is not performing to its potential, it could be due to several common reasons, such as the air filter becoming dirty and choked and plants, leaves, and other debris obstructing the external unit.
In this blog post, we’ll outline some of the most common problems with air conditioners and offer tips on how to maintain yours so it runs all season smoothly long.
Common Problems with AC
Some of the common issues that may afflict your air conditioner are:
1- Water Leak
Water leaks are one of the most common problems with air conditioners. While a small amount of condensation is average, excessive water leaks can indicate a problem with the unit.
A clogged drain line is one of the most common causes of water leaks. The drain line carries excess water away from the unit, and if it becomes blocked, the water will have nowhere to go except out of the unit.
Another possible cause of water leaks is a faulty float switch. The float switch is responsible for turning the pump on and off, and if it becomes stuck in the “on” position, it can cause water to leak from the unit.
If you notice a water leak, it’s important to have the air conditioner checked by a professional as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
2- The Unit is Not Cooling Properly
There are a few potential reasons for this. First, the air filter may be dirty, preventing air from flowing freely through the unit.
Second, the evaporator coils may be iced over, making it difficult for heat to be absorbed.
Third, the Freon level may be low, preventing the unit from creating the proper temperature difference.
Fourth, the condenser coils may be dirty, making it difficult for heat to be released.
Fifth, there could be a problem with the compressor, which is responsible for circulating refrigerant through the system.
The refrigerant that keeps on circulating inside the AC system is responsible for the cooling effect.
Since it does not evaporate to the outside, in case you discover the refrigerant level has dipped, then there is a high possibility of a leak.
Only a competent technician can identify the location of the leak, fix it and recharge the unit.
3- Strange Noises Emanating from the Unit
You’re not alone if you’re wondering why your air conditioner is making strange noises.
This is a common problem that can be caused by several things, from loose parts to debris in the system.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce the noise of your air conditioner and get some peace.
4- Unusual Smells Coming from the AC
Though it’s a common problem with air conditioners, not many people know that the unusual smells coming from their AC are often caused by bacteria growth.
This bacteria grows in the wet, warm areas of your AC unit, such as the coils and drain pan.
As the bacteria multiply, it releases methane and other noxious gases, which can give your home an unpleasant smell.
In addition to causing bad odors, this bacteria can also lead to health problems for you and your family.
If you notice an unusual smell coming from your AC unit, it must be professionally cleaned to remove the bacteria and prevent further growth.
5- The Unit Freezing-up
The most common problem with AC units is that they freeze up. This happens when the unit is not getting enough air and the coils inside the unit ice over.
Keeping the filters and coils clean is the essential step in ensuring that your AC operates efficiently.
Clean or change the filter as per the instructions given by the manufacturer, and hose off the external unit to get rid of the dirt and dust.
The best way to prevent this is to ensure that the unit is adequately ventilated.
If you notice that the unit is starting to freeze up, turn off the unit and call a technician. They will be able to clean the coils and ensure that the unit is adequately ventilated.
6- High Electricity Bills
Acs are necessary during the summer, but they come with a high price tag. Electricity bills skyrocket when the temperature rises, and many people struggle to keep up with the payments.
There are a few reasons for this. First, ACs have to work harder to keep a home cool, which means they use more electricity.
Second, air conditioners are used more often during the summer months, contributing to higher bills.
Finally, many people have their AC set at a lower temperature than usual to stay cool, which requires even more energy.
Luckily, there are a few ways to combat high electricity bills. Turning the thermostat up a few degrees can make a big difference, as can using fans to circulate air.
Some people also find that investing in a more energy-efficient ac unit pays off in the long run. Whatever method you choose, be sure to take action before your next bill arrives.
7- Electrical Issues
If your AC does not turn on at all, it could be something as elementary as the circuit trip.
The main reason for this is that electronics are susceptible to changes in voltage and current. When the voltage or current supplied to an electronic device changes, it can cause the device to malfunction.
Another reason electrical issues are common with AC is that AC can produce a lot of electromagnetic interference. This interference can disrupt the operation of electronic devices, causing them to malfunction.
Finally, AC can also cause corrosion of electronic components. Over time, this corrosion can damage the components, making them more likely to fail.
All of these factors make electrical issues a problem with AC systems.
However, if the circuit breaker repeatedly trips when the AC is switched on, you need to call in professional AC engineers to identify and address the faulty wiring.
8- Safety Switch
This switch is designed to shut off the power to the unit if there is a problem, such as overheating.
Often, the switch will trip when there is no problem, which can be frustrating. There are a few things that can cause the safety switch to trip, such as dirt in the unit or a problem with the wiring.
To prevent moisture from creating havoc, all units have condensate pipes that drain the excess moisture and keep the AC dry.
Sometimes clogging occurs, and the moisture build-up activates a safety switch that turns off the AC to prevent a short circuit.
Draining the pipe and emptying the pan can usually fix the problem.
9- Damaged Compressor
The compressor is the heart of an AC unit, and it pumps refrigerant through the system.
If the compressor is damaged, it can cause a loud noise when the AC is turned on. The compressor may also leak oil, which can damage the unit further.
The damaged compressor is complex to repair and should only be dealt with or replaced by a trained professional.
Meanwhile, you should turn your AC off if you notice the unit is making a loud noise or leaking oil.
10- Capacitor Failure
The capacitor is responsible for supplying the electrical current that starts up the compressor.
If it fails, it causes a clicking noise, the compressor will not start, and the AC will not work.
This is a fairly common problem, and it can usually be fixed by replacing the capacitor. Turn the unit off and call a technician.
11- Thermostat Problems
The thermostat is responsible for controlling the temperature of the AC. If the thermostat is not working properly, the AC will not be able to maintain the desired temperature.
Thermostat problems occur for various reasons, such as dirt and dust build-up, loose wires, or a failing battery.
Tips for Maintaining Your AC to Extend Its Life
If you regularly maintain your air conditioner, it will not only cool better but also save you a lot of money in power consumption and eliminate breakdown repairs.
1- Keep It Clean
The reason why air conditioners do not operate efficiently and ultimately break down is surprisingly something as common as the build-up of dirt and dust.
Because the air filter is tucked away out of sight, it is straightforward to forget all about it, even though you may know that it is an essential component.
However, you should make it a point to have a schedule that makes it mandatory to clean it once a month during the summer and once in three months at other times of the year when the unit is being used more sparingly.
Not only will you be breathing cleaner air, but you will also save a lot of money in reduced power consumption as the unit cools far more efficiently.
2- Bi-Annual Maintenance
Ensure that your air conditioner is inspected at least twice a year for any signs of problems that could lead to expensive repairs later on.
All the unit’s main components should be inspected, including the coils of the condenser and the evaporator.
Check if the level of refrigerant is okay, as in case it has dipped, there is likely a leak, which must be attended to immediately.
This is because the fluids are highly toxic and may cause respiratory problems to those in their proximity.
The bi-annual maintenance will also reveal in case there are any electrical issues, such as overheating or losing contacts, that may lead to sparking and short circuits.
3- Attend Repairs Immediately
In case the inspection reveals an issue, or you perceive that your air conditioning unit does not seem to be working as well as expected, it becomes essential that your unit is repaired urgently before it escalates to something much more severe and expensive.
Identifying faults can be tricky for a layman, so you should call in the experts.
It is vital to resist the tendency to wait till suspected problem balloons out of control and becomes an emergency.
4- Keep the Room Tightly Closed
Making sure that the room in which the air conditioner is installed is always kept shut even when you are not using it will also help make it more energy-efficient.
5- Use a Programmable Thermostat
This is one way in which you can save on your power bill, as you can set the temperature higher when you are not at home and lower it just before you arrive.
In this way, you will be using the unit only when you need it and not all day long.
An added advantage of using a programmable thermostat is setting different temperatures for different times of the day.
6- Do not use it as a Dehumidifier
An air conditioner does not work as effectively as a dehumidifier, so it is best not to use it for this purpose.
7- Use the Fan Mode
In case it is not too hot, you could use the fan mode to circulate the air in the room, which will also help reduce power consumption.
8- Educate Everyone at Home about Conserving Energy
Last but not least, educating every household member about conserving energy is important.
This is especially important if you have young children at home who may not know the importance of saving power.
By following these simple tips, you can not only prolong the life of your air conditioner but also make it more energy-efficient. Not to mention the money you will be saving in terms of reduced power consumption.
It is advisable to have your air conditioner serviced at least twice a year in order to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. This will also help to avoid any potential repair costs in the future.
Ideally, you should clean or replace your air conditioner filter every month. However, this may vary depending on the type of filter you have.
Careful and appropriate air conditioner maintenance will not only allow the unit to perform efficiently but also enable you to avoid premature and emergency failures that can take a lot of money to repair or replace the unit.
With preventive maintenance, you can easily extend the life of the unit considerably, as well as keep running costs down.
Meen Smith is a nurse by profession who loves writing online, spending time with her family and caring for the elderly. She has already worked as an associate editor on various moms, babies, home appliances, kitchen, and healthy living blogs. In her spare time, she also enjoys drawing, reading/writing kindle eBooks and improving her skills a bit.