Air conditioners are complex machines that can develop many problems over time. Some issues are more alarming than others, but no problem should be ignored. It’s essential to understand how to spot these issues as quickly as possible to get them professionally fixed before they cause severe damage. Here are ten air conditioning problems that you should watch out for and how to identify them quickly.

1. Leaks

Leaks in an air conditioning unit are one of the easiest issues to spot. If there is a puddle of water near the unit, there is most certainly a leak somewhere. Smaller leaks can be identified by hissing noises and a lack of cool air blowing out of the unit.

Leaks are indicative of clogged or cracked refrigerant or drain lines, dirty air filters or improper installation. A professional will be able to pinpoint the cause of the leak and repair it to get your air conditioner back in working order.

2. Frequently Tripping the Circuit Breaker

Another air conditioning issue that is very easy to spot is constantly tripping the circuit breaker when trying to activate the system. You can distinguish tripped breakers from power issues with the unit itself in two ways. Either check nearby electrical outlets or appliances to see if they’re still receiving power, or you can check the breaker box and see if any of the switches are off.

Air conditioners require a lot of energy to function, and it’s not uncommon to experience a tripped circuit breaker once or twice each season. However, if the breaker is constantly tripping due to air conditioner usage, it could be indicative of a more serious problem. The unit may be overheating due to a dirty filter or a broken coil fan. The wiring within the unit could be frayed, or the circuit breaker for your house could be experiencing issues.

Electrical problems are incredibly dangerous. Never attempt to resolve them without the assistance of a professional electrician or air conditioner technician.

3. The Unit Won’t Turn Off

An air conditioner that constantly runs is a massive waste of energy and money. If your air conditioner won’t turn off, it could signify some minor issues, like the thermostat being set too low or having a system that is too small for your house. However, it could also be a sign of more significant issues such as frozen evaporator or condenser coils, a faulty thermostat, low refrigerant levels or a faulty switch or wire.

4. The Unit Won’t Turn On

No air conditioner issue is more difficult to tolerate than when the unit or condenser won’t turn on. If the condenser won’t kick on, or if the entire unit won’t power on, the culprit is likely similar to when your air conditioner won’t turn off.

The condenser not kicking on could indicate that the thermostat is set too high or that something in the environment is affecting temperature readings. If the unit won’t power on at all, it could be an electrical issue; the unit may be overheating or there is a blown fuse.

5. Loud Noises

Air conditioning units make a wide variety of noises when they’re not functioning properly. Many of these sounds are barely audible, but some issues cause very loud noises during operation. Some of the most common loud noises are screeching, banging and rattling.

Screeching noises are commonly caused by loose belts, worn-out bearings or a failing compressor.

Banging noises are caused by broken or loose fan blades, a loose rod or piston or compressor issues.

Rattling is almost always caused by loose parts such as screws, fan blades or panels. However, rattling can also indicate that there is debris, such as sticks or dirt, in the unit. The fan motor might be failing or the air filter is clogged.

6. Low Airflow

Low airflow is a major issue for air conditioners. Even if the air is cooled effectively, it doesn’t mean much if the airflow isn’t strong enough to cool off entire rooms. In addition, issues such as freezing or overheating may develop as a result of a lack of strong airflow throughout the system. Poor airflow will also diminish the air quality in your home.

Airflow issues are caused by a variety of factors, such as clogged air filters, broken fan motors, leaking or obstructed air ducts, dirty fan blades and dirty coils.

7. Strange Odors

Air conditioners start to smell odd due to numerous issues. A burning smell could indicate that a motor is overheating, the wiring is frayed or some of the bearings are wearing down. If you detect a burning smell within the system, power off the unit and call for professional assistance immediately.

You may notice a musty smell in your home, which can be caused by mold buildup in the unit or ducts. It could also signify a drainage issue within the system.

If you smell chemicals with a sweet odor to them, like antifreeze, it is most likely due to a refrigerant leak.

Particularly strong foul odors could indicate that a rodent or other small animal has passed away in or around the unit.

8. Air Is Not Cool

Without cold air, your air conditioner is nothing but a massive fan. If you notice that there is no cool air coming from your air conditioning unit even though the condenser is kicking on, it could be a symptom of several issues. For example, there could be a refrigerant leak, the condenser coil could be broken, frozen or dirty, or the compressor could be failing.

9. The Unit Is Continuously Cycling Off and On

The process of an air conditioner constantly turning off and on within minutes is called short cycling. One of the most common causes of this issue is having an air conditioning system that is too large or too powerful for your home.

If the air conditioner is too large or powerful for your house, it could be cooling rooms too quickly, causing the unit to shut off after only a few minutes of operation. If the system is the right size for your home, this issue could be indicative of a failing condenser, a poorly placed thermostat, a refrigerant leak or a clogged air filter.

10. Outdoor Unit or Lines Freezing Up

Most instances of freezing occur due to ice buildup on the lines or the outdoor unit. However, the ice may also be on the coils or somewhere else within the unit. Low airflow or warm air coming from the vents is also a sign of freezing within the system.

Freezing is caused by poor airflow within the system, running the air conditioner when the temperature outside is too low, dirty air filters and failing blowers.

These air conditioner issues all require the assistance of a professional to be fixed effectively and safely. If you believe your air conditioner has any of these problems, our experienced technicians at Friar's Heating and Air will provide you with prompt and professional service. In addition to air conditioner repair, we also provide air conditioner installation and maintenance, heating repair and installation, electric vehicle charging station installation, air purifier installation, smart thermostat installation and much more. For additional information on any of the services we provide to the areas in and around San Diego, California, contact us at Friar's Heating and Air today.

company icon