The Unfiltered Blog

June 20, 2019

Troubleshooting common air conditioner problems

By Jason Gassmann, President
In the summer, it’s common to experience extended periods of hot and humid weather. And this is not the time of year any of us want to come home to find our air conditioner not working properly.
 
When this happens, sometimes the solution is as simple as changing the furnace filter. That’s why we put together a guide to troubleshooting common air conditioner problems.
 
1) The problem: “My AC is running but not cooling.” 
 
What’s probably happening:  It might sound obvious, but the first sign that your air conditioner is not working properly is that your house is going to be hot.
 
What you should do: 
  • Change the filter in your furnace. A clogged filter can significantly impact how your central air operates.
  • Check your furnace and air conditioner for visible signs of blockage or damage.
  • Make sure your air conditioner is free of obstructions such as leaves, branches, grass clippings, plants, furniture, protective covers, etc.
  • If something doesn’t look right, it’s probably best to call and schedule a service appointment. Consider signing up for one of our annual maintenance programs to stay ahead of these kinds of issues. 
 
2) The problem: “My air conditioner was working, and my house was comfortable — that is until it was 97 degrees outside.” 
 
What’s probably happening: Your air conditioning system might only be functioning at marginal capacity. That means it might not be able to keep up on the super-hot days. If you haven’t had annual maintenance performed on your air conditioner, the condenser unit could be dirty, and the coil could be clogged. This can cause your AC to work harder even though the house still feels too warm. 
 
What you should do: Same as above. Change your filter. Check the indoor and outdoor units for signs of blockage. Don’t hesitate to give us a call; we’d be happy to come take a look. 
 
3) The problem: “My HVAC system seems to be freezing up — should there be ice on the AC coils?” 
 
What’s probably happening: You’re right to be alarmed. The AC coil should never have ice on it. This could mean a few things, including a plugged filter or that the unit is low on refrigerant charge.   
 
What you should do: Turn your air conditioner off immediately and call us to come service it. There’s not much you can do on your own for this problem, but it’s very important that you turn the air conditioner off so the ice will melt naturally. We also recommend you don’t try and chip away at the ice before a service tech arrives. 
 
4) The problem: “There’s a pretty big puddle underneath my furnace. Is a leaking furnace dangerous?” 
 
What’s probably happening: Yes, that is a bad sign. That could mean condensate water is running down through your furnace which could cause the AC blower motor and the circuit boards to burn out. This puts all the electrical components of your furnace and, in turn, the air conditioner, at risk. 
 
What you should do: This is another situation where you should call a certified HVAC technician right away to schedule a maintenance appointment. 
 
When to call an HVAC professional
In many situations where a homeowner is troubleshooting AC problems, we recommend calling a trusted HVAC technician to come take a look. Air conditioners and furnaces are not a small investment, and we want homeowners to receive the best advice and service in order to protect that investment.
 
Here are a few examples of maintenance that should be left to a trained professional:
  • If any maintenance needs to take place inside the air conditioner or furnace unit ― meaning you’d have to take something apart ― that’s better left to the professionals.
  • Don’t use a hose to wash off your AC unit. The pressure can flatten the fins on the air conditioner and actually push dirt further into the coil. When we say an AC needs to be kept clean, we mean clean from the inside out. Professionals have the tools and the knowledge necessary to safely clean AC units and coils.
  • If your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the hot weather like it normally does, don’t keep turning the temperature lower and lower. That’s just going to make the AC work harder than necessary without making your home any cooler. Plus, that means you’re not addressing the root of the problem (likely one of the scenarios above), and your system is not getting the repairs it needs. 
 
If you’re experiencing issues with your air conditioning system and need to schedule a maintenance call, contact us online or call 515-244-8911. Make sure to follow us on Facebook for regular maintenance tips and company news as well.