Posted 10/14/2017

Common Air Conditioner Problems in the United States

Common Air Conditioner Problems in the United States

Overall, the United States has a cool climate compared to various African and Asian countries. However, if you live in Florida, California, Arizona or Hawaii, summer temperatures can cross 100 degree Fahrenheit. The worst thing to happen during summers is to have to your air conditioner breaking down on you. The humidity can make you sweat profusely, and the only thing you can think of at the time is to quickly get the air conditioner fixed and working.

Here is a list of common problems and their solutions that occur with air conditioners every year:

  1. The AC doesn’t turn on at all – There is usually a problem with the batteries. Check the remote and thermostat for used batteries. Replace the batteries if there is a need and let the cool breeze replenish your soul. What if replacing the batteries doesn’t work? Check the thermostat settings. It should be set to “Cool” and the fan should be set at “Auto”. “Auto” fan settings make sure the fan doesn’t run continuously at the same speed and burn out its motor. Still no luck? Check the circuit breaker for a trip or fuse. If flipping the trip to the “on” position doesn’t work you might need to replace that trip box. You can replace it yourself for 5 bucks.
    Another, more concerning reason for this could be that some pest such as a rat has eaten through the wiring. This will make the unit completely useless and you’ll have to purchase a new one. It happened to me once. That is the worst thing that could happen to the AC.
    Furthermore if you live in a relatively humid region, you should use anti rusting coating for all your equipment. If you fail to do so, rusting and corrosion will cause a lot of irreparable damage.
  2. The AC turns on but throws warm air – This is better than not turning at all and usually has an easy fix. If you haven’t cleaned the filters for some time, now might be the time to do so. Continuous usage causes dirt and debris to collect in the filters which restrict proper airflow. This could cause further harm to the unit if not checked regularly.
  3.  Check the thermostat settings next - If it is at its lowest possible settings, it is very likely that the thermostat is broken and needs a replacement. Make sure the thermostat is not placed in direct sunlight which might affect its reading levels
  4. The AC is not cooling enough – Make sure the doors and windows of the house are closed. You are not trying the cool the Earth, only your home. If you have a particularly old home with old fashioned windows and an attic, you might require more insulation. The roof and walls absorb heat and warm the whole house. Insulation is a good way to prevent internal heating.
  5. Refrigerant Gas leaks – the cooling gas might have leaked during the winters. One of the reasons for the Ac to ice up is lack of refrigerant. It happens quite often due to the Ac not being used. The refrigerant uses liquid nitrogen to create the cooling effect. I won’t bore you with the details, just that you need to call a HVAC technician to find the leak. Seal it and refill the gas.
  6. Water Dripping from the Ac – Countless times I’ve been woken up by water dripping on my head. I think it’s the bad piping in the house. If you have the same problem, check the PVC pipes along the Ac for clogs. If it’s jammed , clear it out and refit it.
  7. The AC makes strange noises like an apache helicopter - this kind of problem is especially is annoying because there is a continuous noise coming from the unit. The first thing to do is to switch off the AC. Continue to use the Ac will only make it worse. This problem usually has to do with the motor bearings or the weakening of the belt. Applying some oiling should fix the issue.
    You might want to replace the broken belt. To do this switch off the Ac and take of the front panel. Check the labels and numbers on the belt and get the exact same one from Home Depot. You can normally slip on the belt on to the smaller pulley and then shift it to the larger pulley. If it feels too tight, check the manufacturers guide to make sure that you are doing it right.
    If the Ac creates a rattling sound when it is switched on or off, there could be a problem with the relay. However if you put your hand on the unit and feel it vibrate, it is possible that the hardware is not fitted properly and is coming loose.
  8. Check the outer - there is a big box with an exhaust fan on the outside of the house that’s connected to the AC. Make sure the outer is not clogged with rust, debris or bird poo (It happens). Get an expert technician to fully service and clean the inner as well as the outer every year.

It is usually not the smartest thing in the world to go at fixing the air conditioner by yourself. Of course you can clean the filters and replace the batteries but for everything else, it is recommended to seek professional help of an HVAC technician. Going at it by yourself might also void the warranty on the unit. You might just end up causing more damage than there was to begin with and have to bear the cost of extensive repairs. HVAC experts have years of experience and can detect the problem and fix it from the source. This prevents it from recurring again. Also, it’s always good to be safe. Messing around with electrical equipment can be extremely dangerous.


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