Seven Most Common AC Problems and How to Fix Them

August 3, 2022

When your home’s cooling breaks down, you want to get the problem taken care of right away. Annoyingly, there can be dozens of reasons why your air conditioner isn’t functioning properly. How do you know which one is causing trouble? There are a few problems that are more common, and identifying what they are is beneficial when your Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning Expert is reviewing options for fixing the problem through air conditioning repair in North America.

ere are the top six common air conditioner problems that can cause your air conditioning to break down.

1. Thermostat Problems

Your thermostat directs your AC system when to start and for how long to run. If the thermostat settings are wrong, your air conditioner might not work like it should. And if the batteries have died in a programmable thermostat, you won’t be able to use it at all. Follow this quick checklist to confirm your thermostat is receiving power and functioning properly:

  • Replace batteries if the screen is blank (programmable models)
  • Make sure your thermostat has power (smart models)
  • Check that it’s in cooling mode
  • Ensure your set temperature is below the current room temperature

2. Dirty Air Filter

Dirty or inefficient air filters are known for turning a perfectly functional and effective air conditioner into a slow and inefficient one. In addition, dirty filters will sometimes cause multiple problems, like reduced airflow, reduced indoor air quality and greater power use. They can also make an AC unit work harder and stop working if the coil freezes.

You can easily avoid AC problems by routinely cleaning or replacing the air filter. How do you know whether you should change the filters? If you can’t remember the last time you changed them, it’s almost certainly time to. But for a standard rule of thumb, make sure you try to change flat filters every month and pleated filters every three months.

3. Frozen Condenser Coils

Your air conditioner’s coils are crucial components because they discharge heat from your home into the outdoor air. But even in the summer, ice can build up on the coils. Frozen coils won’t be able to regulate the cooling process as smoothly, and in some cases sufficient ice can stop the AC from running entirely.

Freezing can be linked to several issues, like:

  • Dirty coils caused by a lack of annual maintenance
  • Dirty air filters, which reduce airflow
  • Clogged drain line, which can trigger moisture buildup
  • Refrigerant leaks, which lessen cooling power

If your air conditioner freezes, switch it off and let the coils thaw. This will sometimes take up to 24 hours, but you can speed up the process by switching settings to “fan only.” This blows warm air over the coils without going through a cooling cycle.

It’s a good idea to inspect your air filter first. If you can’t see light through it, replace it. The other challenges, such as dirty coils, a clogged drain line or refrigerant leaks, are best handled with professional assistance.

4. Refrigerant Leak

Your air conditioning system uses refrigerant to convert heat. When it doesn’t have enough refrigerant, you may notice you’re getting a lot of hot air. Here are some signs you’re confronting a leak:

  • Insufficient cold air
  • Home feels humid
  • Longer than normal cooling cycles
  • Frozen evaporator coils
  • Dribbling or hissing air conditioner sounds
  • Sweet smell near the air conditioner

If your air conditioning system was installed prior to 2011, it likely uses Freon® or R-22. This refrigerant is no longer being produced as a consequence of its harmful effects on the ozone layer. Only recycled quantities are available, which makes refrigerant leaks more costly to fix.

If your R-22 AC unit is dealing with a refrigerant leak, we suggest air conditioning installation due to age and the refrigerant being obsolete. Modern air conditioners employ Puron or R-410A, which is better for the environment.

We realize that replacing your air conditioner can be an emergency that you aren’t ready for. Ask us about our Advantage Program™, which gives you a new air conditioner for just one low monthly fee. Repairs and maintenance are included, and you’ll get to keep any useful manufacturer’s rebates.

5. Water Leak

Your air conditioning utilizes a condensate drain line to flush water it eliminates from the air. If you’ve skipped air conditioning maintenance, this drain can become clogged with mold and cause water to flood the system. If this happens, you’ll notice water leaking.

Turn off your air conditioner to prevent damage and contact us at 866-397-3787 for help.

6. Tripped Circuit Breaker

There can be a couple of reasons why your air conditioning system won't stop tripping its circuit breaker. Here are several of the most common ones:

  • Dirty air filter is significantly limiting airflow.
  • Your air conditioning system is overheating due to a lack of refrigerant.
  • Condenser coils are dirty and reducing airflow.
  • Condenser fan motor has failed and coils are overheating.
  • Electrical connections are strained or loose.
  • Blower motor is defective.
  • Compressor is drawing excess power or wiring is malfunctioning.
  • Capacitor responsible for starting the compressor has gone out.

Like we outlined earlier, check your air filter first, as that is most often the culprit. Any other problems should be resolved by an HVAC professional like Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning.

7. Short Cycling

An insufficient cooling cycle can also be part of the problem. Short cycling is an annoying issue when the system shuts down before the expected temperature has covered the entire house. If you suspect your AC unit is short cycling, watch how long the air is on before it shuts off. Your average air conditioner usually runs for 15 to 20 minutes and stays inactive for around a similar period of time. But when it’s short cycling, your air conditioner is running on and off in small bursts.

This puts heavy strain on moving parts and key components such as the blower motor. Short cycling or any kind of abnormal cooling cycles are routinely a consequence of overheating. The internal chamber gets too hot and then safety components shut the AC off. This happens over and over, particularly if the source of the overheating isn’t addressed.

Trust the Experts for Your Air Conditioning Repair and Maintenance Needs

The ideal way for you to avoid air conditioning problems is to enroll in a preventive maintenance agreement. At Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, we provide several HVAC memberships to suit your needs and budget. Bad wiring, low refrigerant and dirty coils can be uncovered and corrected with routine service.

Sometimes repairs are inescapable, but as a maintenance member, you’ll benefit from special discounts on service, 24/7/365 priority service, no trip or overtime charges and more. Ready to join a membership program or to schedule your repair appointment? Call us at 330-305-2799 today!