(503) 284-2173

Mon-Fri: 8 am to 5:00 pm

Request an Appointment

What Are The Most Common Air Conditioning Problems?

Here are the five most common air conditioning problems that homeowners experience during the summer months. Our cooling philosophy involves air quality, humidity, and temperature. When your air conditioning unit doesn’t seem to work optimally, don’t reach for the phone to call your local HVAC contractor just yet. Behind most malfunctions, there are simple solutions that you might be able to do on your own to restore the cool comfort of your home and save money. Find more about our AC philosophy

Top Air Conditioning Problems and Solutions


1. The A/C Stops Working Completely

When the air conditioner shuts down unexpectedly, check the thermostat’s batteries. If the batteries are dead, replace them. If the batteries are still good, make sure the thermostat is in the “cooling” mode or position and at the temperature settings that you desire.

If the thermostat isn’t the culprit, check the A/C circuit breaker. You might need to flip it to the “on” position. If these solutions don’t work, call an HVAC expert.

2. The A/C Works, but the Air isn’t Cold

A handful of problems might cause your home to feel overly warm even when the air conditioner runs. If you haven’t changed the air filter in a few months, do so now. Then verify that the thermostat has the correct settings. If you set the thermostat at the coldest temperature and don’t feel a difference, you might need a new one.

Inspect the area around the air conditioner to make sure that is clear of debris and vegetation. Keep bushes and tall plants at least 2 feet away, and remove leaves the fall on top of the unit. If you notice refrigerant leaks, which affect how an A/C cools the air, call an HVAC expert to repair or replace the refrigerant reservoir. You can tell if the refrigerant levels are low by examining the larger of the two copper lines that go into the condenser. When the A/C has sufficient refrigerant levels, the line will sweat and feel cold to the touch.

If you have older windows in your home or need additional insulation in your attic, you might be experiencing heat gains that warm your home. Using blackout curtains during the day or adding insulation might help.

Leaks in ductwork can also make a home feel warm and humid while the A/C runs. An HVAC technician can perform tests to determine if this is the cause of your discomfort.

3. The A/C Cools Unevenly

Temperatures fluctuations in a home are generally the result of leaks in ductwork, poor insulation, or blocked vents or registers. Ensure that the vents throughout your home are open, clean and unobstructed.

You might find that rooms with south-facing windows feel hotter than other rooms. If this is the case, use blackout curtains over the windows during the warmest times of the day. Another solution is the professional installation of separate zoning systems in your home that allow you to control the temperature in specific areas.


4. Water Drips from the Air Conditioner

Check the condensate line, the PVC pipe exiting the A/C unit, to see if it’s clogged. If it is, flush it out using compressed air, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Refrigerant leaking from the drain line will make your house feel warm and may cause ice to build up over the coils and drip water. Frozen coils, however, are also an indication of airflow problems because of debris surrounding the A/C unit, a dirty air filter or obstructed return air ductwork. If any part of the air conditioner is frozen, turn it off, allowing it to defrost on its own, and call an HVAC technician.

5. The Air Conditioner Makes Strange Noises

Screeching or squealing sounds that come from the blower motor indicates a motor bearing problem or a faulty belt that might break. Adding lubricant to the oil port might help.

Clanging, rattling, thumping or banging generally means there’s a problem with the motor or blower assembly. If you hear any of these noises, turn off the A/C and call a professional.

A smacking noise, like playing cards hitting a bicycle spoke, when the blower runs could mean something is stuck in the blower blades or in the housing surrounding the blower. Turn off the A/C and inspect the blower for debris.

Clicking sounds when the A/C turns on and off generally signifies a relay problem. A rattling noise that occurs when the fan turns the compressor on is due to a failing motor or loose hardware. Call a professional to inspect the unit.

As you troubleshoot your air conditioning unit, keep its warranty in mind. While it’s OK to perform basic maintenance, such as change the air filters, some A/C problems require professional attention to prevent voiding the warranty. Learn more about how to handle service and repair with our resources. When you notice your air conditioner not functioning normally, address the issue as soon as you can to prevent it from becoming a larger, more expensive problem. Serving the Portland-metro area for over 50 years, AAA Heating & Cooling is ready to help you with all your comfort needs. Learn more about why our customers continue to choose AAA. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Photo by Maegan Tintari via CC License