What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Is On The Fritz

Whenever temperatures soar, the last thing you need is for your air conditioner to suddenly stop working. Unfortunately, it's something that can happen at any given moment, even to the most reliable of air conditioners. If and when it happens, you'll want to know how to figure out what's gone wrong.

Your A/C Isn't Cooling Well Enough

If you think your air conditioner isn't cooling as well as it should, your first step should be to make sure your thermostat is set properly. Start off by lowering the thermostat by 5 degrees and allowing the A/C to run for a few minutes. If this doesn't work, then you may need to do the following:

  • Check and, if necessary, change your air conditioner's filter. A clogged filter can interfere with the A/C system's cooling performance. Ideally, you should always change your air filter on a monthly basis.
  • Make sure the evaporator coil and condenser coil haven't frozen over. Frost buildup can also interfere with cooling performance and your unit won't be able to cool effectively until the coils have sufficiently thawed.
  • Check the evaporator coil and see if it needs to be cleaned. You can carefully clean the coil of dirt and debris buildup by using mild detergent and a soft-bristle brush.
  • Make sure the A/C compressor isn't leaking or overheating. The A/C system won't be able to cool effectively if the compressor is damaged or worn out.

Your A/C Isn't Cooling at All

If your air conditioner isn't cooling at all, then you'll need to make sure the unit is receiving power. Go to your home's circuit breaker or fuse box and locate the circuit or fuse for the A/C system. Make sure the circuit breaker for the A/C hasn't been tripped or the fuse blown. If so, replace the fuse or reset the circuit, and then see if the unit will run again.

Next, you want to make sure that your A/C system is properly set to cool your home. The thermostat should be set on "cool" and the temperature set point should be a few degrees below your home's current temperature.

You may also want to have your technician check the A/C system's refrigerant charge. An improperly charged system won't be able to cool your home and any attempts to do so could damage various A/C components.

The Unit Turns On and Off Repeatedly

If your air conditioner turns on and off every few minutes, then it may be a victim of short cycling. Short cycling usually occurs when an oversized air conditioner cools your home too quickly, creating huge temperature swings that cause the A/C to turn on and off repeatedly to maintain your desired set point.

Short cycling can also happen when the evaporator coils ice over, causing the unit to turn on and off as the coils thaw and re-freeze. A clogged air filter can also cause short cycling by restricting air flow, which in turn causes the compressor and other components to overheat and eventually stop working.

The Unit Cools, But It's Also Making Strange Noises

There are plenty of things that can make an air conditioner go bump in the night. The following is a brief rundown of what those strange noises could mean for your A/C system:

  • Squealing and screeching noises often indicate a bad blower motor belt, a failed bearing or even a simple lack of lubricant. Check the belt and have it replaced if it looks frayed, cracked or otherwise damaged. If necessary, add lubricant according to your A/C manufacturer's specifications.
  • Thumping and banging noises usually indicate a loose blower assembly component. Make sure the motor mounts are securely fastened and the blower fan itself is properly aligned and not in contact with its surroundings.
  • Hissing, gurgling and bubbling noises are likely due to a refrigerant leak. You should have your HVAC technician take a look at this problem as soon as possible.
  • Occasional clicking sounds are normal for most A/C systems, but repeated or fast-paced clicking could indicate a defective relay.

Understanding how to troubleshoot your A/C system can help you save time and effort when it comes to service and repair. For more information or help fixing your A/C, contact a company that offers 24 hour air conditioning service.