Common Air Conditioner Problems and How to Fix Them

Learn about common problems with domestic air conditioners & how to fix them. Find out how improper installation & inadequate maintenance can lead to AC issues.

Common Air Conditioner Problems and How to Fix Them

Old, clogged air filters are often the root cause of air conditioning issues such as frozen coils. If the filter isn't the problem, you may be running low on coolant. To test this, probe the larger of the two copper lines that go to the unit's capacitor. Common central air conditioning problems can also occur when rooms are closed off and the flow of air through the house is disrupted.

If you have an air conditioner in a room, it's important to close the windows and exterior doors of your house to isolate that room or group of connected rooms from the rest of the house. To learn more about common air conditioning problems and what to look out for, check out our Energy Saver 101 infographic on home cooling. Other common issues with existing air conditioners can be attributed to faulty installation, poor service procedures, and inadequate maintenance. Improperly installing a central air conditioner can lead to duct leaks and reduced airflow. It's also possible that the refrigerant charge (the amount of refrigerant in the system) does not match the manufacturer's specifications.

If the refrigerant is not properly charged during installation, it will affect both performance and efficiency of the unit. Unqualified service technicians may fail to detect refrigerant charging problems or even make them worse by adding refrigerant to a system that is already full. When hiring a technician to service your air conditioner, make sure you know what to ask for. If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, it means it was either undercharged at installation or it is leaking. If it is leaking, simply adding coolant won't solve the problem.

A trained technician must repair any leaks, test the repair, and then charge the system with the correct amount of coolant. It's important to remember that your air conditioner's performance and efficiency are best when the refrigerant charge matches the manufacturer's specifications exactly and isn't undercharged or overcharged. Refrigerant leaks can also be damaging to the environment. One of the most common problems with domestic air conditioners is a malfunctioning thermostat. For example, if your air conditioner has short cycles and your space feels warmer than usual, a faulty thermostat is likely to blame. If your air conditioner has frozen up, turn it off and allow the coils to defrost.

This can take up to 24 hours, but you can speed up the process by changing the setting to “fan only”. This will expel hot air into the coils without going through a cooling cycle. Before doing this, it's a good idea to check if your air filter needs changing - if you can't see light through it, replace it. Other problems such as dirty coils, clogged drain lines, or refrigerant leaks will require professional assistance. If your R-22 air conditioner has a refrigerant leak, we recommend replacing it due to its age and because R-22 is an obsolete refrigerant.

Newer air conditioners use Puron or R-410A which are better for the environment. Your air conditioning unit uses a condensate drain pipe to remove water from the air. If you skipped maintenance on your AC unit, this drain can become clogged with mold and cause water to accumulate. If this happens, you'll notice a water leak. To avoid these common problems with your air conditioner, make sure you change your filter regularly and keep all windows and doors closed when using an AC unit in one room or group of connected rooms.

Additionally, hire qualified technicians for installation and maintenance services so that your AC unit runs efficiently and effectively for years to come.

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