The Ultimate Common AC Problems Guide

The Ultimate Common AC Problems Guide

Appliances Electrician

You walk into your home and immediately notice something isn’t right. It feels stuffy, humid, and hot. If this happens to you, chances are, you’ve got an AC problem!

Don’t panic, though. It could be a simple issue that you can fix yourself.

Before you call in a pro, check out this round-up of the most common AC problems. We’ve even thrown in some tips for taking care of them on your own.

Thermostat Issues

If you find that your AC is not working as it should, the first thing you’ll want to do is check your thermostat. Sometimes the issue is something as simple as the thermostat being unintentionally turned off or an incorrect setting.

If you don’t have an obvious problem, you might need an HVAC specialist to recalibrate or replace your thermostat. Calibration problems are particularly common in the older, dial-type thermostats while newer digital thermostats are more likely to have been programmed incorrectly.

If you have a programmable thermostat, try re-reading the manual before calling in an AC company. Still, have an old-style thermostat? It’s likely time to update to a new smart thermostat with programmable options.

Lack of Maintenance

Dirty air filters are one of the most common AC issues. When your filters get clogged up with debris, air can’t flow through as it should. This will make your system less efficient, which will cost you more money.

The extra wear and tear it causes to your system can also lead to you needing an HVAC replacement much sooner than you should. It’s best to replace your filters every 30 to 90 days at a minimum. If you have multiple people and pets in your home, you might even need to replace them more frequently.

Luckily, air filters are inexpensive, and this easy task can make a real difference in your HVAC system’s performance.

Power Issues

If your AC system isn’t running, check to make sure it has power. The first thing you’ll want to do is take a look at your circuit breaker to see if it has been tripped. If not, check the wire and terminals on your compressor and fan controls.

Sometimes, corrosion can cause an issue with your contacts and electrical connections. If you’re not familiar with dealing with electricity, consider having a professional come take a look instead.

Sensor Problems

Your AC system has a thermostat sensor that’s located behind the control panel. This tracks the temperature of the air that comes out of the evaporative coil. The sensor must be close to the coil without actually touching it.

If the sensor has been moved out of place, it can cause your AC system to function erratically or constantly cycle on and off. Sometimes, you can fix this on your own by carefully bending the wires until the sensor is back in the appropriate place.

Drainage Issues

Your AC system has a condensate drain that allows humidity to drain out. If it’s clogged or not working properly, this can cause the water to back up into your system and cause problems.

A clogged condensate drain can also lead to flooding, so make sure you periodically check it and clear it out if it’s not draining quickly and completely.

Low Refrigerant

If your AC system is low on refrigerant, you’ll need to call in a repair professional. There’s a chance it was undercharged from the beginning, but it’s more likely that it has developed a leak. An HVAC expert will repair the leak, test it, and then charge your system back to where it should be.

Condenser Problems

The condenser in your AC unit releases the heat that’s been removed from the air back into the outdoors. Since the coils are part of your outdoor unit, it’s easy for it to collect dirt, leaves, twigs, and other debris.

When your condenser coils are dirty, it will interrupt the transfer of heat, causing your AC unit to work less efficiently. Not only does this make it harder for the system to keep your home cool, but it also lowers your system’s life expectancy.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

Your system’s evaporator coils contain the refrigerant that absorbs heat. Issues like dirty air filters, problems with your air ducts, or low refrigerant can all cause airflow issues. Diminished airflow sometimes leads to a layer of ice accumulating on your evaporator coils.

If this is the issue, you’ll likely notice warm air – or no air – coming from your AC supply registers.

Dirty or Leaking Air Ducts

Central air conditioning works by moving air throughout your home using a system of air ducts. If these ducts are clogged up with dirt or they leak, your HVAC system will struggle to keep up.

It’s common for air ducts to develop tears, so this is something you’ll want to check. Leaks or tears will allow the cool air to spread inside your walls, which does nothing to cool your home.

Noisy Fans

HVAC systems use a fan to blow air over the evaporator coil and the condenser. If one or both of these fans is making a lot of noise, there’s a problem that needs to be fixed.

Often, this is caused by dirt and debris or by worn belts. Sometimes, a bearing is deteriorating, or a piece has come loose. If you notice strange noises coming from your system, your best bet is to shut it off so you can avoid further damage until a professional can come to fix it.

Troubleshoot Your Common AC Problems

Now that you know a bit more about the most common AC problems, you’re one step closer to getting your house back to a comfortable temperature. Just remember to always put safety first and call in the pros when you need them.

Looking for even more great tips to help keep your home in top shape? Scroll through a few more of our blog posts! We cover everything from maintenance to remodels and more.

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