Your AC is more likely to break down when the summer begins when it starts receiving heavy usage. It’s tough to diagnose a problem with your air conditioner because there are so many parts inside your AC that can malfunction and keep your unit from working correctly.Since it’s difficult to diagnose air conditioner problems and even harder to make repairs, it’s always best that you enlist the help of an HVAC technician when your AC breaks down or stops working as efficiently as it should. However, you may find it helpful to know what causes the most common problems in air conditioners. This knowledge can save you and the technician a great deal of time if you are able to help diagnose the problem by identifying different signs and sounds that indicate a problem.

Common Air Conditioner Problems

Let’s cover the most common AC problems and solutions. We’ll explain what causes them and how to fix them.

1. AC Running Constantly

It’s common for your AC to run frequently during the warm months, but it should turn off once it cools your home to the desired temperature. There might be a problem with your AC if it’s running constantly and not turning off, or if it’s running for many short cycles with little time in between each one. These problems will significantly increase the wear-and-tear on your AC and cause your energy bills to spike.Cause: There could be many different reasons why your AC is running constantly, including a broken thermostat, malfunctioning compressor, or faulty wiring.Fix: If there’s a problem with the thermostat, you could reset the system and see if it works properly again. If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to enlist an HVAC technician to diagnose the problem.

2. AC Not Turning On

Broken internal components may keep your AC from turning on. Reduce the temperature on your thermostat to see whether the AC begins to cycle. If it doesn’t, then there’s most likely a problem with the internal components.Cause: There are so many different parts in your AC that could fail and keep the system from turning on. AC systems are designed with safety mechanisms that will keep the AC from running when it detects that a component isn’t functioning properly.Fix: An HVAC technician will need to inspect all the parts in your AC, including the fuses, compressors, motors, and wiring.

3. No Cool Air Flowing

Your AC is running, but it’s not blowing cool air into your home. It’s either blowing room temperature air or very little air that isn’t sufficient to cool your home. This is one of the most common AC problems in your house.Cause: Most of the time this is caused by blockage inside your AC system, usually from dirty air filters. It could also be caused by a broken fan belt or low refrigerant levels.Fix: Change your air filter and see whether this solves the problem. If not, a professional HVAC inspection is needed to diagnose the issue.

4. Hot Air Blowing Out

Nothing is more frustrating than when your AC unit doesn’t the opposite of what it’s supposed to do and blows hot air into your home. When this happens, you should shut off your AC immediately to prevent damage to your AC unit (and keep your house from becoming a sauna).Cause: Your AC unit is most likely blowing hot air because the system has overheated. Overheating occurs because one of the internal components has failed.Fix: Turn off the AC immediately or else you could cause further damage to the internal components. An HVAC professional can examine the cooling components inside your AC to figure out which part has failed.

5. Refrigerant Leaking

It’s tough to identify a refrigerant leak because the symptoms aren’t always very obvious. You might have a refrigerant leak if your AC isn’t blowing cool air into your home, or if you notice bright stains around your AC unit. Leaking refrigerant may also cause an increase in your electricity bill.Cause: The coils or components that store and transfer refrigerant might have degraded over time and developed cracks.Fix: HVAC professionals can repair refrigerant leaks and check to see whether the leaking refrigerant caused damage to any other components inside your AC.

6. Water Leaking Outside

On extra hot days it’s not uncommon to have a small amount of water leakage on the outside of your AC unit, just under the outdoor compressor. It’s also common on colder days when the air temperature is 60 degrees or cooler.You should be concerned about water leakage when it’s happening very frequently, or when there’s a larger pool of water that’s significantly wetting the area around your AC.Cause: There are several reasons as to why water is leaking outside. This could be caused by improper installation, a blocked condensate pan or drain pipe, or low coolant levels.Fix: Turn off the AC unit and call a professional HVAC technician to inspect the issue to determine how severe the problem is. They will be able to diagnose the problem and implement a fix that should resolve the issue.

7. Water Leaking Inside

Water leakage in the indoor unit is a more serious problem. The water could get backed up into your home, damage the parts inside your AC unit, and cause an unpleasant mildewy smell in your home. Indoor water leakage may also cause your AC unit to produce humid air that’s more uncomfortable and which can discolor your walls and carpets.Cause: Indoor water leakage is most likely caused by debris or mold that’s blocking the drainage pipe.Fix: An HVAC technician can clear a blocked condensate line and inspect the internal components to make sure none of the parts suffered water damage.

8. Unit Cycling On and Off

Short cycling is a common AC problem in which your AC runs for continuous short cycles, with little time in between. Don’t wait too long to have your AC inspected if you notice that it’s short cycling because short cycling can cause significant damage to your compressor.Cause: Short cycling can be caused by several different issues. It’s possible that your AC unit is too large and powerful for the size of your home. It can also be caused by low refrigerant or frozen evaporator coils.Fix: An HVAC technician can inspect your AC unit to diagnose the cause of the short cycling. They can also help you figure out whether or not your AC system is the right size for your property.

9. Damaged Compressor

Many common AC problems are caused by a malfunctioning compressor. It’s one of the most important components in your AC so it can cause significant problems in your HVAC system when it’s not functioning properly.Cause: Most compressor problems are caused by low or leaking refrigerant, dirty air filters, or dirty coils. These can cause the compressor to work harder than it needs to, resulting in overheating or mechanical failure.Fix: It’s hard to tell whether or not the compressor is causing your AC problems, but an HVAC technician can inspect it and make the necessary repairs if it’s damaged. If damage to the compressor is severe, it may cost less to replace the compressor than repair it.

10. Condenser Coils Freezing

You might be dealing with a frozen condenser coil if your AC unit isn’t blowing cool air or if you’re noticing ice buildup around your AC unit.Cause: Evaporator coils can freeze when they get too dirty and need to work harder to absorb heat. They can also be caused by dirty air filters, which restrict airflow in your AC and prevent the coils from being exposed to warm air.Fix: Turn off your AC for a few hours to let it thaw out. Replace the air filter and see whether the coils freeze again. If they do, it’s best to call an HVAC technician to solve the issue.

11. Evaporator Coil Freezing

Frozen evaporator coils have the same symptoms as a frozen condenser coil. Your AC unit might not be blowing cool air into your home, and you might notice ice buildup on the AC.Cause: Evaporator coils usually freeze because they’re not getting enough airflow, which is often caused by a dirty air filter, or the evaporator coil itself being too dirty. Refrigerant leaks, blocked or leaking ductwork, and broken fans can also cause the evaporator coil to freeze.Fix: Turn off the AC for a few hours to let the coil thaw and replace the air filter while it’s doing so. Call an HVAC technician if the coil freezes again. There are many things that could cause the coils to freeze, so an HVAC professional is your best resource to diagnose and fix the problem.

12. AC Freezing

The outdoor unit can get frozen and cause your AC to stop working. You’ll usually notice ice buildup on the outdoor unit, or that the fan has stopped running.Cause: The outdoor unit may freeze due to cold outdoor temperatures, clogged air filters, low refrigerant levels, or broken motors and internal parts.Fix: Try replacing the air filter and see if that fixes the problem. In Southwest Florida, temperatures aren’t usually cold enough to cause freezing, so restricted airflow is the most likely cause. It’s helpful to keep your garden and foliage trimmed back at least 2 feet from your outdoor unit to minimize the amount of debris that falls or gets sucked into the machine. If changing the air filter doesn’t work, call an HVAC professional.

13. AC Tripping Circuit Breaker

Sometimes you’ll experience a power surge that causes your AC to trip the circuit breaker. There could be an electrical problem with your AC if this becomes a frequent occurrence.Cause: This AC problem might be caused by damaged electrical components, either in the circuit board or wiring. If you have a new AC unit, it’s possible that it was installed improperly.Fix: Never mess with your AC’s circuitry because you could risk electric shock. An HVAC professional can test all the circuitry in your AC and identify / replace any faulty components.

14. Strange Smells Coming from AC Unit

Any kind of smell coming from your AC is problematic. Each smell will indicate a different type of problem.Cause:Mildewy Smell: Typically caused by mold or moisture buildup, which means your drainage pipes are blocked and causing water leakage.Burning Smell: Typically caused by overheating components or a short circuit.Sulfur Smell: May be caused by a small animal that’s died inside the AC unit.Gas Smell: You could have a gas leak, which is a dangerous situation and should be dealt with immediately.Fix: If you smell gas coming from your HVAC system, you should leave the home immediately and call emergency first response. It’s possible that there is a gas leak, which is highly dangerous and can expose you and your family to harmful gasses or fire hazards. HVAC technicians can handle other smell-related problems: clearing drain pipes, removing dead animals, fixing circuitry, and fixing any problem that’s causing your AC to overheat.

15. Strange Sounds Coming from AC

Loose or broken parts inside your AC unit can cause a rattling, buzzing, grinding, or hissing.Cause:Rattling: Most often caused by a broken motor or fan.Grinding: Grinding sounds are also usually caused by problems with the motor.Buzzing: Typically caused by faulty electrical components.Hissing: Most often caused by a loose or degraded fan belt. Fix: An HVAC technician can repair any of these broken parts to get your AC working functionally and quietly.

16. Electric Control Failure

The electrical components in your AC will wear down over time. Degraded circuitry may cause your AC to not turn on or cause power surges that shut down your system.Cause: Electrical failures are usually caused by wear-and-tear. Wires, terminals, and electrical connections will corrode over time and stop working. Your circuitry can also be damaged by excessive moisture inside your AC or water damage, which is often caused by a clogged condensate line.Fix: HVAC technicians can test your circuitry to figure out exactly where the failure is occurring. You can keep your electrical components in good shape by scheduling annual maintenance on your AC. During an annual tune-up, the HVAC professional will apply protective coating to the circuitry and make sure there’s no excessive moisture that can damage the wiring.

17. Drainage Problems

You probably have a drainage problem if you notice water leakage around your AC and if you smell a musty or mildewy odor coming from your AC unit. The extra moisture inside your AC may also cause it to blow humid air into your home instead of coo, dry air.Cause: The drainpipe is probably clogged by dirt, debris, mold, or fungus. The debris is blocking the water from draining from your AC unit, causing it to get backed up into your home. If not treated, the leakage could cause water damage to the internal components inside your AC.Fix: Call an HVAC technician to clear whatever’s causing the blockage in your pipes. In some cases, the water may not be draining properly because the AC has not been mounted level. An HVAC professional can also fix this for you.

18. Sensor Problems

Every air conditioner has a sensor that measures the air near the evaporator coil to make sure it complies with the temperature set on the thermostat. A problem with the sensor may cause your AC to short cycle or run constantly.Cause: Most sensor problems occur when the sensor is bent out of position.Fix: An HVAC technician can bend the sensor back into position or clean the sensor of dirt that may be causing it work improperly.

19. Dirty AC Filter

Many common AC problems are caused by a dirty air filter. Dirty air filters restrict air from moving through your AC, causing your AC to work harder to cool your home. This causes so many other problems, from overheating components to freezing coils.Cause: Air filters naturally gather dirt and debris over time as they filter particles from the air that’s entering your AC.Fix: Change the air filter every month during the cooling season to keep it clean and clog-free. HVAC technicians will change the air filter for you during an annual AC tune-up. To minimize the amount of debris getting stuck in the air filter, keep your plants and landscaping trimmed back 2-3 feet from your outdoor unit.

20. Capacitor Failure

The capacitor is responsible for starting up the motor inside your AC. You might have a faulty capacitor if your AC abruptly turns on and off, and if there’s a clicking sound in your AC when you turn the system on.Cause: The capacitor can overheat if when you’re using your AC heavily during the cooling season, especially if your AC is working harder due to dirty air filters or coils. Frequently changing the settings on your thermostat can also damage the capacitor.Fix: The capacitor is a component that poses the risk of electric shock, so inspections and repairs should be done by a licensed HVAC technician. You can keep your capacitor in good shape by changing the air filters regularly during the cooling season and by having an HVAC professional give your AC a tune-up so it’s less likely to suffer from overheating.

21. Faulty Thermostat

A faulty thermostat is one of the most common AC problems. You might have a faulty thermostat when your AC is short cycling or not turning at the trigger temperature settings.Cause: Sometimes, the thermostat might fail only because of dead batteries. However, the thermostat can also malfunction due to faulty circuitry or exposure to direct sunlight.Fix: Change the batteries in your thermostat and see if that solves the problem. If not, call an HVAC technician to calibrate your thermostat or inspect it for bad electrical components.

22. Leaking Ducts

Your ductwork carries the cool air that’s being generated by your AC unit. The air can escape through gaps in your ductwork, which makes it harder for your AC to cool your home quickly and efficiently. Gaps in the ductwork can also allow contaminants to enter the system which hurt your air quality.Cause: Tears can open in the ductwork if you’ve recently moved or adjust the ducts, or they can get torn open by animals that enter the crawl spaces of your home.Fix: Ductwork tears are difficult to effectively repair, so it’s best to contact an HVAC technician to find where the tears are located and cover them up. Ducts that are severely damaged may have to be replaced.

4. Hot Air Blowing Out

Nothing is more frustrating than when your AC unit doesn’t the opposite of what it’s supposed to do and blows hot air into your home. When this happens, you should shut off your AC immediately to prevent damage to your AC unit (and keep your house from becoming a sauna).Cause: Your AC unit is most likely blowing hot air because the system has overheated. Overheating occurs because one of the internal components has failed.Fix: Turn off the AC immediately or else you could cause further damage to the internal components. An HVAC professional can examine the cooling components inside your AC to figure out which part has failed.

23. AC Fan Failure

The fan in your outdoor AC unit is used to blow away the heat that’s been removed from your home. A broken AC fan can disrupt the heat transfer in your AC unit and make your HVAC system work harder to cool your home.Cause: Most often, the AC fan fails due to a faulty electrical component.Fix: It’s safest to have an HVAC technician inspect and repair the AC fan. The technician will make sure the system is properly shut down during the repair, so the fan doesn’t turn on while it’s being inspected. Technicians also know how to safely test the wiring and other electrical components while avoiding electrical shock.

24. Bad Wiring or Wrong Fuse

Your AC system is full of electrical components, and it only takes one faulty connection to cut power to your AC or blow a fuse.Cause: The wiring inside your AC may get damaged by water leakage, excessive moisture, or by small animals that are able to get inside the unit. Wiring also tends to degrade over time due to natural wear and tear. If you have a new AC, it could have been installed with faulty wiring.Fix: You should always enlist an HVAC professional when dealing with circuitry and electrical components. HVAC technicians have the right tools and expertise to locate where the faulty wiring is and safely replace it.

25. Loose Wiring

The most common AC problem involving wiring and circuitry are loose wires. Loose wires may cause your AC to stop working or even trip your circuit breaker.Cause: Electrical connections come loose due to wear-and-tear and constant vibrations which result in insufficient power to the components in your AC.Fix: An HVAC professional can inspect your AC unit and reconnect wires that have come loose. Don’t try to do this yourself or you could risk electric shock or further damaging your AC.

26. Exposed Wiring

Pinched or stripped wires can be a major fire hazard, and you can get electrocuted by touching a live wire. Exposed wires can be difficult to spot, and they can be located in your AC unit, outside of your AC unit, or even in hidden spots behind your walls.Cause: Wires may become exposed due to wear-and-tear or by getting pinched during installation or home improvement projects.Fix: HVAC technicians will be able to locate and cover exposed wires during inspections of HVAC system. Schedule an AC tune up at least once per year so you can find these types of issues.

27. Uneven Air Distribution

A properly functioning AC system should be able to cool every room in your home to the desired temperature. If that’s not happening then your AC system could have poor indoor air distribution.Cause: It can be difficult to determine why air isn’t being distributed properly. In some cases, the problem might be caused by an issue not related to your AC. For example, windows might be placed in locations where they let in too much heat, or a room might be too large with high exposure to sunlight. However, air distribution problems can also be caused by gaps in the ductwork.Fix: Try adding curtains over windows in rooms that get plenty of sun exposure, and make sure the glass in these windows are more heat-resistant. If the air distribution problems are being caused by ductwork tears, enlist an HVAC technician to repair them.

Contact Professionals to Help Inspect and Diagnose AC Problems

Air conditioners are complicated machines with a huge number of internal components, so it can be very difficult to figure out what’s causing your AC problems. A certified HVAC company can help you diagnose and fix whatever’s causing the problem in your air conditioner. Contact Hurricane Air if you’re having AC problems in Southwest Florida. Our licensed technicians will get to the root of the problem and make fast, effective repairs. We also offer an annual service plan, which is the best way to keep your AC in great health and prevent many of these AC problems from occurring in the first place.

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