One can think of homeownership as a little like signing on for one home problem after the next. After all, most homeowners will routinely end dealing with common home repairs like garbage disposal, leaky faucets, and fresh caulk in the tub or shower.
Yet, it’s problems with your air conditioner that can send homeowners into a bit of a panic spiral. After all, it’s usually not something you can fix yourself. Plus, if you need your air conditioner, it probably means your home will turn sweltering in no time flat.
Of course, you must recognize that a problem exists before you know you need a service call. Keep reading and we’ll cover some common signs of air conditioner problems.
Table of Contents
As a general rule, the only noise you should hear from your air conditioner is some kind of fan noise. That means if you hear clunking, squealing, or squeaking, you’ll likely need ac repair very soon.
Those kinds of noises can mean anything from loose components inside the unit to broken belts or something lodged inside your AC unit. Whatever the cause of weird noises, you’ll want an opinion from a qualified AC repair technician.
In most cases, they can identify problem and fix it the same day. That gets your AC back in action as soon as possible.
If you turn on the AC and feel warm air coming out of the unit or the vents, it’s usually a sign of some kind of problem. Always start with the obvious, though. Make sure that you set your system for cooling, rather than heating.
It’s an easy thing to overlook if you’re busy or distracted.
If that’s not the problem, it can mean that you have a problem with the condenser or there is some kind of airflow restriction in your system. Check around the unit for things that might inhibit airflow.
If there isn’t an obvious airflow restriction, it’s time for a call to an HVAC pro.
Use air conditioners for long enough and you’ll run across the short cycling problem. It means that the ac unit kicks on for a brief period, kicks off, and then kicks back on. This process is usually continuous throughout the day.
It’s incredibly inefficient, wastes electricity, and does a terrible job of keeping your home cool. It can also have a lot of different causes, such as:
- Faulty control board
- Low refrigerant levels
- Clogged filters
- Evaporator coil problems
As air conditioner problems go, it’s one of the most annoying. Depending on the source of the problem, a repair might fix it or you may need a new air conditioner.
Takes a While to Turn On
When you change the temperature on your thermostat, the system should react very promptly. In many cases, it happens within a few seconds. Almost every functional system kicks on within about half a minute.
If your AC doesn’t kick on within that half-minute timeframe, it’s a good sign that there is a problem. There are two common sources for the issue.
The thermostat on your systems could have some kind of fault in the wiring that interferes with it signaling the unit. The other possibility is that sensors in the unit itself no longer react to the thermostat the way they should.
Either way, you’ll need a professional eye on the problem to sort it out.
Most air conditioners come with some kind of faint smell when they’re working. As a general rule, that smell is innocuous and easily ignored. Sometimes, though, you turn on the AC and get unpleasant or very foul odors.
The most likely culprit, in this case, is some kind of microbial growth inside your unit or possibly in your ductwork. If it is a problem in your AC unit, a thorough unit cleaning by a professional will typically resolve the problem.
If it doesn’t, you may need a duct cleaning to find and eliminate the source of the smells.
Humidity is an ongoing problem in many parts of the country. If it stays too humid in your home, that can trigger the growth of mildew or mold. The good news is that a properly functioning AC unit should keep the humidity in your home to the preferred 30 percent to 50 percent humidity.
If you notice that it feels sticky in your home on a regular basis even with the AC on, that’s a solid sign that your AC unit needs some kind of repair or adjustment. For example, you may have a clogged air filter or malfunctioning fans. Either way, you need that problem solved so your indoor humidity level goes back to normal.
Leaking by the Unit
A little bit of moisture around an AC unit is a normal thing. It’s converting warm air into cool air, so some condensation will happen. If you see liquid leaking from near the condenser, though, that’s a different matter entirely.
There is a very good chance that what you’re seeing is, in fact, refrigerant. That’s bad for a couple of reasons.
At the top of the list, low refrigerant levels stress the entire unit because it must work harder to achieve the same cooling results. That, in turn, reduces the useful working life of your air conditioner.
The other major problem is that refrigerants from cooling systems like AC units can prove toxic to humans and animals.
Dealing with an AC Home Problem
Any home problem can prove vexing, but an AC problem is difficult for anyone to ignore. As the temperatures and humidity spike in your home, there is a good chance that tempers will flare.
On top of that, AC repairs aren’t a DIY-friendly project. In almost all cases, you need an HVAC technician for a diagnosis and repair of the problem. The takeaway here is that you shouldn’t put off that call to the HVAC pros.
Looking for more home improvement tips? Check out some of the Home Improvement posts over in our Lifestyle section.