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Most Common Air Conditioner Problems and Solutions

Imagine getting plagued with air conditioner problems during a hot summer! Nothing could be worse more than this.

Encountering problems with AC can result from various reasons.

One needs to be aware of the common issues with AC and should know how to troubleshoot them.

In this ultimate guide to AC troubleshooting, we shall discuss the common AC problems and the best ways to fix them.

Let us dive into the discussion right away.

What Are The Common AC Problems And Their Solutions?

Below is a list of the common AC issues that most people face. Let us also look at the possible solutions to deal with them.

Problem 1: AC Refrigerant Leak

ac refrigerant leak

We all know that the refrigerant is a crucial component of the AC that helps in cooling. Refrigerant gas leaking is one of the most common issues we tend to face with an air conditioner. This problem can lead to reduced efficiency of the air conditioning system. Apart from this, continuous gas leakage can be harmful to the environment.

Below are a few consequences that a refrigerant leak can result in:

  • Reduced efficiency of the AC unit
  • High electricity consumption
  • Freezing of the coil
  • Damage to the compressor
  • Uneven cooling in the room

Let us have a look at the possible reasons contributing to the refrigerant leakage inside the AC unit.

Reason 1: Improper installation of AC

An improper installation of AC can result in a refrigerant leak. Incorrect fitting of some parts and components during installation may cause the coolant to escape.

Solution:

The possible solution to counter this problem is not just adding or refilling the refrigerant. You need to fix this by seeking the assistance of a professional who will inspect, test, and repair the system and then add the required amount to gas.

Reason 2: Damaged Refrigerant Pipes

Refrigerant pipes are responsible for circulating the gas to the condenser and from the evaporator and vice versa. Any damage or defect in the coolant pipes can result in leakage.

Solution:

You can fix this by seeking the assistance of a professional who will inspect the damage and later repair the refrigerant pipes.

You may say how to detect the leaks. Well, here are some of the ways that will help you diagnose the gas leakage problem.

  • Registers or Vents not blowing cool air.
  • Frozen evaporator coils.
  • A spike in the electricity bills.
  • Hissing, humming, whistling, and screaming noises coming from the refrigerant lines.
  • Loss of cooling power.

If you notice any of the above instances in your air conditioning unit, you can consider it a clear indication of refrigerant leaks. Also, ensure that the coolant in the AC is not undercharged or overcharged.

Problem 2: Frozen Evaporator Coils

frozen evaporator coils

Another problem with the AC units is the frozen evaporator coils. This will result in your AC unit not cooling properly. This is the most common problem that many AC owners complain of. Let us take a look at the possible reasons behind this:

Reason: Dirt or Debris Accumulation on the Coils

The primary reason contributing to frost on the evaporator coils is the build-up of dirt or debris on them. When the dirt accumulates on the coils, it restricts the airflow and does not allow the warm air to reach the refrigerant. As a result, the refrigerant gas becomes too cold, causing the moisture on the coils to freeze.

Gradually, as the coils get covered with ice, they prevent the coolant gas in the coils from absorbing the heat. Consequently, it disrupts the performance of the AC.

Let us learn how to fix this issue:

Solution:

To fix this problem, you need to diagnose it in the first place. Inspect the fault or damage on the coils.

After inspecting, allow the evaporator coil to defrost. To let it happen, you need to stop using the unit. Follow the below steps:

Turn off the AC device and disconnect the power supply to it.

It takes about 24 hours for the evaporator coil to defrost completely.

If you want to hasten this process, you can take the help of a hairdryer. However, ensure that you are not overheating the coil.

If there is moderate frost on the coils, you can try this. Just turn off the AC but let the fan on your thermostat turn on auto mode. This will help in melting the ice on the coils.

Now, check for the dirt on the air filters and the evaporator coils, and clean it.

Also, check if there are any blocks or obstructions in the registers and ductwork.

Despite all these measures, if you still notice freezing on your AC, it means your refrigerant gas is low or leaking. It could also be that there is damage to the refrigerant pipes.

Let us look at the other reasons that trigger the freezing on evaporator coils:

  • The refrigerant gas is low
  • When the outside temperature is very low—this usually happens overnight
  • Damaged parts

Problem 3: Air Conditioner Making Noises

air conditioner making noises

Sometimes, you may hear strange noises from your air conditioning unit. Depending on the problem, the device makes different sounds. Let us have a look at the possible reasons contributing to the peculiar noises from the AC unit.

Reason 1: Refrigerant leakage

Type of Sound: Hissing Sound

Whenever there is a coolant gas leakage, your AC starts making a hissing sound.

Solution:

You can fix this by seeking the assistance of a professional. He will inspect the leakage and the underlying cause and sort the issue.

Reason 2: Faulty motor

Type of Sound: Screeching Sound

Whenever you notice a screeching sound from the AC motor, it is a clear indication that there is an issue with the blower motor. Either there should be a problem with the motor bearing or a damaged belt that is about to break.

Solution:

You can try adding some lubricant to the port. This will help in reducing the noise from the motor. If the noise persists, call a technician immediately to identify the actual issue and fix it.

Reason 3: Faulty Blower or Motor

Type of Sound: Rattling or Banging Sound

Do you hear noises like rattling, banging, or thumping sounds from your AC? It could possibly be because of a faulty blower or motor.

Solution

In such a case, turn off the unit immediately and call for a professional to come and fix this.

Reason 4: Faulty Blower Blades

Type of Sound: Smacking Sound

If you ever notice a smacking sound when the blower is running, there is something wrong with the blower blades. Higher chances are that there is an accumulation of dirt and debris on the blades, that is making the noise.

Solution:

Turn off your AC first and check for the debris build-up on the blowers. Clean the dirt carefully, if any.

Reason 5: Loose Hardware

Type of Sound: Rattling Sound

Did you ever notice a rattling sound when the fan turns on the compressor? It indicates that there is something wrong with the motor or there must be loose hardware.

Solution:

Call for an expert technician to look into the issue.

Reason 6: AC Belt

Type of Sound: Squeaking Sound

Whenever there is a problem with your AC belt, you will hear the squeaking sound.

Solution:

Call for an expert technician to look into the issue.

Reason 7: Capacitor Issue

Type of Sound: Clicking Sound

Whenever you turn on or off the AC, you will hear a clicking sound. This is the result of a capacitor failure.

Solution:

You cannot repair or replace the capacitor on your own. It is advisable to call for an expert technician to look into the issue.

Reason 8: Faulty Motor Bearings

Type of Sound: Grinding Sound

Whenever there is a problem with your motor bearing, you will hear the grinding sound.

Solution:

Call for an expert technician to look into the issue and fix it.

Note: You should never ignore the sounds from your air conditioning unit. Irrespective of the noise, seek the help of an expert immediately to find the underlying issue and fix it.

Problem 4: Bad Odour From The AC

Bad Odour From The AC

The stinking smell from the air conditioners is yet another common problem that most people encounter. There are many reasons contributing to this. Let us have a look at what they are and the type of odour you may likely observe:

Reason 1: Mould Growth

Type of Odour: Pungent Smell

If you ever observe a pungent smell from your AC unit, it is mostly because of the mould growth inside. The possible triggers for this are improper drainage and a clogged air filter. Whenever the drainage gets blocked, it will result in bacteria build-up. This will further lead to a foul smell from the device. The odour can be so strong that turning your AC on will leave your entire house stinking.

Solution:

It is advisable to clean the air filters regularly and ensure that the drain lines are clear. You are sure to notice a change in the odour every time you do this.

Reason 2: Clogged Air Filters

Type of Odour: Burning Smell

If you ever observe a burning or fire-like smell coming from the AC, it means some electrical components are burning. Also, it could be because of the clogged air filters that are causing your air conditioning system to overheat. As a result, you will get a burning smell.

Solution:

The moment you feel the burning smell from your AC, switch off the unit immediately. Inspect if there are any clogged air filters and clean them. If they are beyond cleaning, replace them at the earliest. Call the expert technician to inspect other causes for electric odours.

Problem 5: The AC Turns On And Off Repeatedly

AC Turns On And Off Repeatedly

Is your AC turning on and off constantly the moment you switched it on? You can call this problem short cycling. Usually, in this problem, the AC does not complete the full cooling cycle that it should. Instead, it starts over and over again. This is a very serious issue, and any negligence can result in a damaged compressor. Let us take a look at the possible reasons behind this:

Reason: Blocked or Dirty Condenser or Evaporator

If your AC has a short cycle problem, it could be because either the condenser or evaporator is dirty or clogged.

Solution:

The best solution to this is to check for the debris or obstructions in the condenser and evaporator. Clean the debris on them. Further, you can even call a professional to come and inspect for other relevant issues.

Problem 6: Water Leaking From Indoor Unit

water leaking from ac indoor unit

We may observe the water leakages from the indoor unit. If this is the case, you should note that the maintenance of the device is overdue. Let us learn about the reasons for this:

Reason 1: Clogged Condensate Pipe

The main reason behind the water leakage from the indoor unit is the clogged condensate drain. This mostly happens because of the algae or fungi growth inside. It further causes the water from the pipes to go back and into your home.

Solution: 

The only solution to this is to clear the clogged condensate pipe with the help of a vacuum. To kill the growth of algae or fungi in the pipe, pour about six ounces of vinegar into the pipe. This would do the needful. It is advisable to refer to the user manual to locate the drain pipe.

Reason 2: Broken Condensate Pump

A broken condensate pump is yet another reason for the water leakage from the indoor unit.

Solution:

Check for the condition of the pump and replace it immediately if it is broken or damaged completely.

 Problem 7: Water Leaking From Outdoor Unit

water leaking from ac outdoor unit

Noticing water from the compressor of your AC unit is normal. However, if it is so severe that you no longer see puddles of water outside but continuous dripping, then there is a serious issue to resolve.

Let us have a look at the possible reasons contributing to the water leakage outside the AC unit.

  • Dirty or clogged air filters
  • Improper installation of the AC unit
  • Blocked drain pipe
  • Low refrigerant levels
  • Broken condensate pan

Solution:

Let us see how to fix this issue. The moment you diagnose the water leakage concern outside the AC, switch off the device immediately and disconnect the power supply to it. Call a professional and seek his assistance. He will inspect the leakage and the underlying cause and sort out the issue.

Note: Such kinds of problems need immediate and timely action. Do not neglect it at any cost.

Problem 8: Damaged Compressor

damaged AC compressor

We all know that a compressor is the heart of the air conditioning unit. It allows the refrigerant gas to carry out the heat exchange and helps in regulating the pressure. Any damage to the compressor will affect the functioning of the device.

Let us have a look at the possible reasons contributing to this problem.

Reason 1: Dirty Coils

One of the reasons for a damaged compressor is the dirty coils. When dirt and debris get accumulated on the coils, it will lead to compressor failure.

Solution:

The possible solution to this problem is to call the professional. He will look into this issue and fix it at the earliest.

Reason 2: Changes In The Refrigerant Levels

Any changes in the refrigerant gas levels will lead to compressor failure. A lower coolant level can make the compressor too cold. Ultimately, it stops working. Similarly, when the refrigerant gas levels are high, it increases the pressure in the unit. Consequently, your compressor fails.

Solution:

You need to fix this by seeking the assistance of a professional who will inspect, test, and repair the system and then add the required amount to gas.

Reason 3: Weak Airflow

If you are noticing a weak airflow or your AC is not cooling properly as it should, it means there is a serious problem with the compressor.

Solution:

You need to fix this by seeking the assistance of a professional who will inspect, test, and replace the compressor unit instead of replacing it.

Problem 9: AC Not Cooling Properly

ac not cooling properly

People often complain that their air conditioning units are not cooling properly. The AC blows warm air. This is a common issue that many tend to face, and here is the reason behind it.

Reason 1: Dirty Filters

The main reason for your AC unit not cooling properly is the dirty or clogged filters. These can obstruct the AC from functioning to its best. Gradually, they will decrease the efficiency of the system and shorten their lifespan.

Solution:

Inspect if there are any clogged air filters and clean them. If they are beyond cleaning, replace them at the earliest. Call the expert technician to help you with the replacement. You can save up to 20 to 50 percent on your electricity bills by changing the filters.

Reason 2: Dirty Condenser Coils

The other reason for your AC unit not cooling properly is the dirty or clogged condenser coils. These can obstruct the AC from performing to the peaks. Gradually, they will limit the efficiency of the system and also their lifespan.

Solution:

Clean the condensers by removing the dirt and debris accumulated over them. If you cannot do it yourself, seek the help of a professional for the same.

Reason 3: Refrigerant Leaks

Refrigerant leakage inside the AC unit is yet another contributing factor for hampering the performance of the system.

Solution:

You need to fix this by seeking the assistance of a professional who will inspect, test, and repair the system and then add the required amount to gas.

Problem 10: Drainage Problem

Drain pipes getting clogged can be another most common problem we might face. Let us see what are the reasons for this.

Reason: Clogged Drain Pipes

Whenever the drain pipe gets blocked with dust or debris, it will result in bacteria, mould, and mildew build-up. The algae or fungi growing in the pipes will lead to a foul smell from the device that filters into your home.

Solution:

The best solution to this is to clear the drain pipes regularly and prevent them from clogging. It is advisable to inspect and maintain them from time to time to ensure this does not happen. Also, ensure that the AC units are mounted at a certain height to allow the device to drain properly.

Problem 11: AC Does Not Shut Off But Runs Constantly

During summers, it is normal to have our AC units running for long hours. However, we need to switch them off periodically to ensure the device does not heat up. If your AC is running constantly without shutting off, it is a serious problem. Despite trying to shut it down, if it still continues to run, it might pose a threat to the vital components of the appliance. This will elevate your electricity bills and can become heavy on your wallets. Let us look at the possible reasons for this.

Reason: Faulty Thermostat

There are multiple reasons for your AC unit to run constantly without shutting off. A problem with the thermostat could be one. The other possible triggers include faulty compressors, air filters, and damaged electrical parts.

Solution:

As a first thing, try this. Turn off the thermostat fan of the AC and see if your device gets shut. If it does not, call a professional immediately.

Problem 12: AC Does Not Turn On

Another frustrating problem is your air conditioning unit does not turn on. Even after adjusting the temperature on the thermostat to a low temperature, it continues to remain unengaged. Here are the reasons for this situation:

Reason: Tripped Circuit Breaker

The primary cause behind this could be a tripped circuit breaker. Another possible reasons might be a faulty thermostat. It could also be because of loose wiring.

Solution

It is highly recommended not to attempt performing wiring repairs by yourself. Please call a professional who will come, inspect and fix the issue.

Problem 13: No Cool Air From The Ducts

This is another common problem we may face. This can be of two ways: Firstly, your AC unit keeps running, but you will not get the cool air from the ducts. Secondly, although you can feel the air from the unit, it is not cold. Let us look at the reasons for this:

Reason: Tripped Circuit Breaker

The primary cause behind this could be a tripped circuit breaker. Another possible reason might be a worn belt that needs replacement. It could also be because of the low refrigerant gas levels in the device. Decreased coolant levels will not produce sufficient cooling.

Solution:

It is highly recommended to call an experienced professional who will come, inspect and fix the issue.

Problem 14: AC Is Blowing Hot Air 

This one is similar to the above. Your air conditioning unit is blowing out hot air, and you are not getting cold air from it. What could be more worse is that you feel warmer in an air-conditioned room where you are already sweating. Imagine how annoying it would be when you encounter this problem during hot summer! Beyond words, isn’t it! Let us see what are the triggers and how to fix this issue.

Reason: Dirty Air Filter

The main reason for this could be a dirty air filter clogged with dirt and debris. Other possible triggers include blocked ducts that are making the compressor overheat. It could also be because of the low refrigerant gas levels in the device that is not producing sufficient cooling.

Solution:

Inspect if there are any clogged air filters and clean them. It is advisable to replace them monthly or bi-monthly. Also, have a scheduled cleaning for your ducts. This will help in removing any obstructions that are preventing from producing cool air. You need to fix the low refrigerant levels issue by seeking the assistance of a professional who will inspect, test, and see if there are any leaks. After a thorough inspection, he will repair the system, if required, and then add the required amount to gas.

Problem 15: Circuit Breaker Of AC Tripping Repeatedly

Is the fuse of your AC unit tripping every time you turn on the device? This can be very frustrating and needs immediate action. This single issue can put a halt to many of your activities. Let us learn about why this is happening constantly.

Reason: Poor AC Installation

There are many reasons for the constant tripped circuit breaker. One of the contributing factors is the poor installation of your AC device. If you want to save on your bucks by hiring an unprofessional technician for installing the unit, it can become a very expensive affair in the long run. Also, if you are using cheap wiring or a circuit breaker, you will end up running into this issue too often.

Solution: 

The only way you can fix this issue is by calling an expert professional who will sort this at the earliest.

Problem 16: AC Fan In The Outdoor Unit Is Not Working 

The outdoor unit of the AC plays a crucial role in transferring the heat from the indoors to the outdoors with the help of a fan. When this fan stops working or does not perform its job effectively, the heat transfer does not take place. Consequently, it will cause the compressor to overheat and may even lead to tripping. What is, even more, worse is that it will cause damage to the compressor and you may end up replacing the entire unit.

Reason: Wiring Issue or Loose Components

When the AC fan in the outdoor unit stops working, it is because of the issue with the wiring. Also, it could be because of the loose components in the system.

 Solution:

This is all you can do. You will have to remove the outer casing of the unit and visually inspect the problem. Before doing any of this, you must ensure that the unit is turned off and there is no power supply to it. However, it is very difficult to diagnose the problem yourself. It is advisable to call an experienced professional who will come, inspect and fix the issue.

Problem 17: Capacitor Failure

You may, sometimes, face an issue with the capacitor of your air conditioning unit. As a result, the moment you turn on or off the AC, you will hear a clicking sound.

Reason: Overheating of the Capacitor

We all know about the crucial role played by a capacitor. It gives the motor an initial push and allows it to start working. During hot summers, the capacitor may overheat and get damaged. Other reasons contributing to the capacitor overheating and failure are power fluctuations and even frequent changes in the thermostat settings.

Solution:

You cannot repair or replace the capacitor on your own. It is advisable to call for an expert technician to look into the issue.

Problem 18: Leaking Ducts

If yours is a ducted air conditioner, noticing leaks from the ducts is a common problem we tend to face. Since the ductwork is responsible for carrying cold air to the entire house, any leak in the ducts can affect the functioning of the AC unit. As a result, even if you turn on the AC, you feel like the device is not running or is not turned on. What could be the reasons for the leakage in ducts? Let us see in the below section:

Reason: Holes or Tear in The Ductwork

Leakage in ducts mostly happens if there are any holes or tears in the ductwork. In such cases, these holes or leaks can absorb the dirt, dust, and debris into them. Following which there may be clogging in the air filters. This will further lead to a decreased quality of the filtered air, uneven cooling, and warm heat in the house. Let us see how to fix this issue:

Solution:

The very first thing you need to do is check for the holes or tears in the ductwork. If you cannot visually locate the holes, you can try doing this. You can determine the same by turning on your AC unit at full speed. This will help you to check the airflow through the holes in the ductwork. However, ensure that the device is blowing air if you want to find out the holes. The other common method of doing this is to check the joints of the ductwork. There are higher chances of leaks at the point where two ducts join together. Inspect the leaks by placing your hand near them and you can feel the air coming out from the holes.

After you found out the leaks, you need to seal them. You may use foil-faced tape, but remember, it is only a temporary solution. If you are looking for a long-term solution, use mastic air duct sealant, which is a sticky substance for application. After applying it to the holes and tears, it dries and hardens. If you are unsure about how to do it, do not worry. Call an HVAC expert, who will perform the job effectively and sort the issue.

A Few Words To Conclude:

Facing problems with the air conditioner is something inevitable. This article has provided the most common problems with AC and the solutions to them. Next time you face any issue with your AC unit, you can use this article as a reference to troubleshoot them without getting panic.

Do write to us in the comments below about how this article helped to deal with the AC problems. Additionally, share this AC problems troubleshooting guide with your friends and help them know the best ways to fix them.

Let us know if you have more questions or need extra information on air conditioner problems and solutions. We will answer all your queries at the earliest. If required, we will come up with a new article containing relevant info related to all your doubts and confusions.

Please share your feedback with us by adding your inputs in the comments section below. We welcome your feedback and would love to learn from you.

Stay healthy and stay safe!!!

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