10 AC Problems You Must Know

AC in Burbank

Air conditioners keep us cool when the mercury is soaring, but even new air conditioners will eventually develop a problem. Whether your AC is struggling in the heat or not putting out cold air at all, your first concern is likely how to get that temperature back into a comfortable range fast. Our guide will help you learn the top 10 AC problems you need to understand to keep that cool air flowing again.

1. AC Won’t Turn on

If your AC won’t turn on, you might panic, but an air conditioner that fails to cycle on doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re facing expensive repairs. First, check that your unit has power and is switched to the “on” position. Check the circuit breaker on both the indoor and outdoor units to be sure it hasn’t been flipped. Finally, check the thermostat to verify that the system is both turned on and set to cool. This is also a good time to check the air filter. A clogged AC filter won’t necessarily stop the AC from switching on, but it will certainly keep it from cooling effectively.

Many things can interfere with your AC’s ability to cycle on, so if you’ve checked the power and the filter, it’s time to call for help. Our technician can troubleshoot and address the issue for you.

2. AC Runs Long Cycles or Runs Constantly

For standard efficiency, single-stage air conditioners, the normal cooling cycle should last 10 to 15 minutes. It might run a little longer on exceptionally hot days. If a single-stage AC system’s cooling cycle runs excessively or constantly, you could have a problem. Start by checking airflow to clear any restrictions, such as a clogged air filter and shut or blocked vents. If there are no impediments to airflow, your system may need refrigerant, have a faulty compressor, or other issues that a technician can identify and repair.

High-efficiency systems are different. They might run nearly constantly but at a lower capacity to maintain an even temperature throughout your home. This does not indicate that they are faulty.

3. Lack of Cool Air

Your air conditioner may run but fail to produce cold air from the supply vents. This can be caused by any number of issues. The first is an airflow restriction preventing the air from coming through the vents. Check your filter and vents to see if you can find the restriction.

The next most common cause is a bad thermostat setting. Check to make sure the fan is set to “auto” rather than “on.” If the fan is switched to “on,” it will continue to run even when the compressor is off.

A lack of cool air can also stem from a problem with the refrigerant, a problem with the compressor, or a problem with the evaporator coil. It’s best to leave troubleshooting these problems to a trained professional.

4. Warm Air Blowing

You may have plenty of air coming from your vents, but it may be warm rather than cold. This may have similar causes to the lack of cool air, including clogged air filters, incorrect thermostat settings, a tripped breaker, or a problem with the compressor.

You could also have an issue with insufficient refrigerant in the system. Low refrigerant often means some kind of refrigerant leak. Beyond just recharging the system, a professional can identify the source of the leak and repair it.

5. AC Cycling Rapidly

Short cycling is when your air conditioner turns on and off rather quickly and can cause significant damage to your unit. Simple causes can include a clogged air filter, low refrigerant, and a frozen evaporator coil.

If you recently had your system replaced, you may have an oversized system. It will short-cycle because it gets too cold too quickly, causing it to freeze. You may also have a problem with the contactor in the outside condensing unit.

6. AC System Freezing

Your air conditioner will freeze when a part of it gets so cold that it condenses moisture from the air and then that moisture freezes. The system most commonly freezes at one of the coils, usually the evaporator coil. However, you may also experience freezes at the compressor and exposed refrigerant lines.

Freezes are usually caused by improperly regulated refrigerant pressure. This can happen because of low refrigerant, a problem with the compressor, or even a faulty expansion valve. A technician can often identify these problems as part of routine AC maintenance.

7. Repeatedly Tripping Circuit Breaker

Your air conditioner shouldn’t trip its circuit breaker when everything’s operating normally. Unusual power surges may cause it to trip, such as with a storm with a lot of lightning. However, if this was the case, you could reset the breaker, and it should be fine.

When it repeatedly trips, something in the system is drawing too much power. The most common issue is a faulty compressor. It can also be an issue with one of the fans contained in the system or an electrical short. Let a professional identify and solve the underlying problem.

8. Unusual Noises

When running well, your air conditioner should make almost no noise outside of the whir of your circulating fan and hum of the compressor. Other noises give indications that something’s off and needs attention, including some that could signal potentially significant damage.

Listen for unusual vibrations or a loud humming as more subtle sounds. Obvious sounds of trouble include grinding, squealing, rattling, hissing, and banging noises. These sounds can range from a part that’s broken, such as something inside your compressor, to major refrigerant leaks and more. These problems won’t fix themselves and could drive up your repair costs substantially if ignored.

9. Strange Odors

Like sounds, your air conditioner shouldn’t emit any odors as it runs. One of the odors that catch many people’s attention is the smell of something burning. This can signal a component that’s experiencing trouble or even an electrical short. Turn off your AC and find the source of the smell to prevent a fire hazard.

When neglected, air conditioners can also emit a musty smell, which some people ignore at the beginning stages. This indicates that some kind of biological contaminant has gotten into your system and started growing. Routine air conditioner maintenance is one of the best ways to prevent this buildup before it can affect your family.

10. Leaking Water

You may notice what looks like water leaking from your indoor AC unit. This moisture comes from humid air flowing over the cold evaporator coils, which condenses the moisture from the air. It then drips down into a drip pan, which has a drain to keep it from collecting, called the condensate drain.

That drain will clog over time, with contaminants finding their way into the pipe. When it clogs, the condensate will pool, and may even spill out onto the floor around the unit. The best way to prevent this is to clean the drain regularly. A technician will clean the drain as part of their routine maintenance protocol.

You can also clean it more often by flushing the line with 1/4 cup of distilled white vinegar. The acidic vinegar should break up anything clogging the line and kill any bacteria growing. You can also use hot water with a dash of dish soap or bleach. Just do not mix bleach and vinegar, which will create a toxic gas.

For more than 20 years, people around Mission Hills have turned to Air Max HVAC for dependable heating and cooling service. Our team provides exceptional heating and AC repair, maintenance, installation, indoor air quality solutions, and home energy audits. Call to schedule your air conditioner repair appointment with one of our expert technicians today.

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