The average cooling unit lasts anywhere from 10 to 15 years, so it’s fairly inevitable you’ll be faced with a repair at one point or another before replacing the unit. Even if your system is newer and you have it serviced regularly, there are some problems that can occur.
Generally speaking, most issues are associated with the quality of installation and service, or an overall lack of maintenance. Luckily, there are warning signs that a problem is lurking.
Know the warning signs
If you suspect something is wrong with your AC unit, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your air conditioner struggling to meet desired temperature settings? Most air conditioning units will cool within a 20° difference to outdoor temperature.
- Are there temperature fluctuations or inconsistencies from room to room? This includes a temperature difference between upstairs and downstairs.
- Does changing filters have any effect on the functionality of the unit? Clean filters should speed up air flow.
- How old is your air conditioning unit? Age is the single most determining factor in assessing performance and identifying potential problems.
If you’re faced with one or more of these warning signs, you’re probably aware there is an issue occurring somewhere. Next step is to identify where the actual problem lies within the system.
Top 7 most common air conditioning problems
- Your air condenser isn’t running. It’s possible the breaker could be tripped or there is a problem with the thermostat, handler or furnace, and the electrical components that connect the two.
- Inadequate air cooling is a very common problem. If it’s 100° outside, you may not achieve anything lower than 80° inside. If this doesn’t apply, try lowering the temperate by several degrees. It’s possible your unit and/or ductwork are not sized properly for your home.
- The unit is running, but not releasing cool air. Check the thermostat connections, as well as the outdoor unit. There is likely an electrical disconnect between the two. The unit could also be lacking the required levels of refrigerant.
- The air conditioning unit shuts on and off repeatedly. We call this short cycling. This is usually a problem with the condenser unit or the evaporator.
- Many common air conditioning problems involve electrical failures in the condenser and fan controls. In these cases, your condenser fan simply may stop working, run slowly, or even not stop running at all. A fan motor that won’t run at all may simply be an issue of electrical connection. Slow-running fans may be a wiring issue that may be tripping your circuit breakers.
- Water isn’t draining properly into condensate pans. This issue is commonly seen on very hot, humid days. First, try changing the pans, since sometimes debris can accumulate and harden there. You can also change your fan settings. A fan that’s running continuously may not give condensation a chance to flow. Instead, it is sucking it back up into the drain line.
- Problems with dehumidifying. If you’re having problems with humidity, chances are your home might be too full of humid, warm air. Check to see if all windows and doors are properly closed and sealed. This can also happen when evaporator coils don’t work properly to drain condensate.