How to Troubleshoot Your A/C Unit: 6 Common Problems

When your A/C unit stops working, it can be overwhelming…especially if it happens during the dog days of summer. Even one hot, steamy day without air conditioning feels impossible to bear. 

To help you get your system up and running again as quickly as possible, we’re sharing these tips to troubleshoot your A/C unit. These practical tips will help you narrow down the problem or even remedy it yourself before calling for service. 

Here’s what to check if…

1. Your A/C Unit Isn’t Running At All

If your A/C unit isn’t running at all, try the following:

  • Check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker
  • Check the condensate overflow switch

Another potential problem could be that your thermostat isn’t set properly. Check your thermostat settings, and lower the thermostat by 5-10 degrees to see if it turns on. If not, you could be looking at a faulty motor or compressor. At this point, you’ll need to contact a technician for service.

2. Your System Runs But Doesn’t Cool

If your unit is running, but not turning out cool air, there are a number of issues that could be present. However, keep in mind that your system won’t be as effective on an excessively hot day as it is on a typical summer day. The average A/C system is capable of maintaining a 20-25 degree difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures. So if it’s 95 degrees out, your unit will struggle to keep your home cooler than 70 degrees or so. 

With that in mind, there are a number of things you can check if your A/C unit isn’t cooling properly. First, shut off the power. Then:

  • Check the filter — if it’s dirty, clean or replace it
  • Clean the condensate drain
  • Check and clean the outdoor compressor

A dirty air filter or other source of dirt and debris making its way into your system can cause restricted air flow and eventually cause evaporator coils to freeze. If that happens, contact a technician to properly de-ice your coils and get your system running again.

3. Your A/C Unit Makes Strange Noises

There are a number of noises your A/C unit can make if it is in need of maintenance — especially if you have an older unit: 

  • If it’s making more of a buzzing sound, it may be an electrical issue or compressor issue. 
  • If your system isn’t making any strange noises, but is getting louder, that could be an indication of a blower motor going bad.

Regardless of the noise your system is making, don’t ignore it. Neglecting any strange noises your A/C unit makes could mean more expensive repair bills in the future.

4. Your System Repeatedly Turns On and Off

Although your A/C unit goes through routine cooling cycles, it shouldn’t constantly cycle on and off (referred to as “short cycling”). If it does, it’s most likely due to one of the three most common issues: a faulty thermostat, refrigerant leaks, or a clogged air filter. 

First, check the air filter and clean or replace it if it is clogged. If that doesn’t fix the issue, it’s time to contact the pros. Our technicians can determine if your thermostat, a refrigerant leak, or another issue is causing your unit to short cycle. 

5. Your A/C System Won’t Shut Off

If your A/C system won’t shut off, the problem likely lies with either the thermostat or the electrical system. While the unit is running, remove the yellow low-voltage wire from the thermostat. If your unit shuts off, the thermostat is broken or wired incorrectly. If the unit doesn’t shut off, it’s time to clean the condenser coils so they can give off heat properly.

6. Your A/C Unit Leaks Water 

Your A/C system has a condensate drain line and drip pan that help keep accumulating condensation properly drained from your system. If there is dirt or debris clogging these components, the drip pan can fill with water and overflow, causing a leak that can potentially damage ceilings, flooring, and anything else in its path. 

If a clog isn’t the issue, you’re likely dealing with either a cracked drain line or a broken condensate pump. If your A/C unit has a leak, contact us for service. Our techs can clear out a blockage in the drain line or determine if a bigger issue is the cause of your leak and make recommendations for repair or replacement.

Trust Titan HVAC to Help Troubleshoot Your A/C Unit

Need more help troubleshooting your air conditioning? Give Titan HVAC a call at 651-714-8931. Our team of technicians are pros at air conditioning service and repair. We’ll check out your unit to determine the problem and the best course of action to get you back to enjoying a cool, comfortable home all summer long.

Kevin Switala
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