10 Most Common Air Conditioner Problems

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What are Some of the Problems Air Conditioners Have

Years ago, not having an air conditioner (AC) was the norm, but now many of us rely on AC to cool our homes during the hot summer months. If you live in an area with excessive heat like Nevada, Arizona, or Florida, you might not be willing to survive without your AC unit. And you shouldn’t have to. That’s why it’s important to know how to maintain your AC and ensure it never goes out on you, especially in the mid-summer months when we get record high temperatures.

Low Coolant Resulting from Leaks

Your air conditioner should never run out of coolant as long as it is working properly. However, all it takes is a small leak for your unit to lose coolant. There are several signs that indicate your AC is running low on coolant, possibly resulting from a leak:

  • A hissing noise
  • A higher power bill
  • Warmer air than usual
  • Ice build-up around the outside of the unit

You may be able to spot a leak by doing a visual inspection of the lines for oily residue. A leak can damage the compressor, which can cost more to fix than it does to buy a new unit. It’s important to note that Freon (the usual coolant material in an AC unit) is a gas that can cause serious health issues. Therefore, if you suspect a leak, turn off your air conditioner immediately and seek the help of affordable professionals, like the Phoenix AC & Heating Experts. Topping off refrigerant can cost from $150 to $400, and it’s more than likely that the leaking component will need to be replaced, which can set you back anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.

Clogged Drains

The moisture that your AC removes goes through a drain line, into a pan, then down another drain. Should either the line or drain become clogged, or the pan get too full of water, it can back up and damage your unit. Not to mention, these water leaks can wind up on your floors, ceiling, walls, or furniture and eventually grow mold. It can cost anywhere from $75 to $250 to flush an AC line.

Evaporator Coil Problems

All AC units are equipped with evaporator coils that absorb heat from the air and release it back as cold air using a series of air ducts. Over time these coils can become corroded; if the ducts get clogged, they can be damaged; or, if there is a leak in one of the components, they can easily freeze up. Either way, evaporator coils usually require maintenance every three years. The price to replace an evaporator coil can range from $400 to $950.

Dirty Air Filters

One of the most common reasons for air conditioning units not to work properly is clogged or dirty air filters. Dirty air filters restrict airflow and can lead to many airflow problems including potentially causing the coils to freeze up. While some manufacturers suggest changing air filters every one to three months, some are reusable and can be cleaned with a vacuum or simply brushed off. Replacement air filters typically cost anywhere from $10 to $60 but can make a big difference in cooling your home.

Problems with the Thermostat

Some older AC models still have the dial-type thermostats installed, which can become incorrectly calibrated, meaning your unit isn’t getting the correct instructions to properly control the system. This problem can be fixed by either recalibrating the thermostat, making sure the settings are correct by checking your owner’s manual, or replacing the thermostat with a newer model, which can help save energy. Some of the newer thermostats can even be controlled remotely with your smartphone. Other things you can check your thermostat for are:

  • Make sure it is turned on
  • Check to ensure it is leveled
  • Is it clean on the inside?
  • Is the sunlight affecting it?
  • Are the settings correct?

Replacing the thermostat in your AC unit can cost around $15 to $300 for the thermostat alone and roughly $100 to $450 for the installation fees.

Leaking Air Ducts

The air ducts that run through the ceilings and walls in your home carry the cooled air and disperse it throughout your living space. If there are cracks or holes in the ducts — caused by rodents or carelessness of workers — that cool air may end up being redirected into the walls or otherwise lost before it reaches the rooms you’re hoping to cool, causing your AC to run harder and your energy bills to rise. If this is the case, you may need to call in a professional service to check the ducts, like the Phoenix AC & Heating Experts who have been in business since 2002 and currently have a 100% review rate. With such high ratings, they must be doing something right.

Air Conditioning Compressor Failures

The compressor is one of the most important parts of an air conditioner as it applies the energy needed to propel the refrigerant through the coils to create the heat exchange. If this component should stop working, your AC would no longer be able to cool your home. If the unit continues to run low on refrigerant, the compressor will heat up and eventually seize. On the contrary, if there’s too much coolant it will return to the compressor, which will soon fail. If the parts are still under warranty, it can cost around $650 to replace. If not, you’re looking at around $1,300 for the parts and installation.

Condenser Coils

The condenser coils remove the heat by expelling it from the building. Like the compressor, the condenser coils are located outside where there is pollution, soot, and other elements that can easily cause this component to become very dirty. Once the condenser coil is covered in dirt and grime, it won’t work very well. In fact, the heat transfer will be impeded, causing the unit to work extra hard to do its job, which could lead to excessive wear on the parts, eventually causing system failure. You may not want to pay the $100 to $400 required to have the coils cleaned by a professional. However, if it needs to be replaced, it will require more extensive work that could cost from $400 to $1,200 just for the part then $50 to $150 per hour for labor.

Clogged Vents

If the outdoor fan or condenser is clogged with trash, dust, lint, dirt, leaves, or other outdoor elements, the unit won’t be able to expel heat effectively and the system could break down. The average price of air duct cleaning is usually $35 per vent or $300 to $500 for an entire home depending on how many ducts there are, their configuration, and the size of the home. In this case, it wouldn’t hurt to call a professional AC service, like the Phoenix AC & Heating Experts, who offer free consultations.

Low Capacity Breakers

Breakers and fuses are what safeguard your AC unit’s compressor and motor from overheating. When an AC motor dies and one of our HVAC technician is called in, one of the first things they’ll check is the breaker. If your breaker keeps shutting down when you run the air, this may be an indication that the breaker doesn’t have the necessary power to run the system; therefore, it may need to be replaced. Replacing a breaker can cost anywhere from $500 to $2,000.