What if your air conditioner stops when it’s 110 in the shade and won’t start running again?
It’s probably not a total disaster; most of the time your cooling system can be fixed. Many problems can also be prevented by having an annual maintenance check, and most issues can be repaired without replacing your HVAC equipment.
When we talked to some of our favorite air conditioning companies, they told us about six of the most common problems an AC can have, as well as some of the causes. Of course, every situation is different and may require other types of repairs.
These are not do-it-yourself projects; you need professional help. Nor are these fixes necessarily low-cost. Some parts that need replacing are expensive and just diagnosing the problem can be time-consuming and costly.
1 | The capacitor quits
A capacitor is something like the battery in your car. It’s the device that sends an electrical jumpstart to your AC system. Capacitors deteriorate gradually and can burst when they wear out. Some homeowners even report hearing a popping noise. The cost of replacing a capacitor depends on your air conditioner. Using a branded part can even cost hundreds of dollars. Some homeowners try to replace this device themselves, but it can be dangerous to work with the high-voltage electricity involved. Disposing of a used capacitor is also tricky.
2 | System won’t cool down
Freon or refrigerant is leaking out of the system and the HVAC system blows warm air or won’t cool off at all. In some cases, ice develops on the refrigerant line – You might think that a repair technician simply needs to replace the missing refrigerant to get things right, but it may also be necessary to find and fix the leak on a joint or in the machinery itself. Refrigerants are not cheap to replace.
3 | The system is leaking water inside the house
Air conditioners often leak a little bit of water out of drain pipes located outside the house, but sometimes those drain lines clog up with dust and debris, and water starts leaking out of your ceilings. So, those pipes need flushing periodically or you might end up redoing some of the drywall in your ceilings. If you have a condensation leak, you might need to have a safety switch installed on equipment to prevent water damage and stop mold and mildew from growing.
4 | The fan motor is burning out
The motor is overamping and bearings are loose. The whole system is getting louder and louder every time it runs. The motor needs replacing.
5 | The blower motor runs all the time
When the blower starts to fail, it reaches the point where you can’t turn your air conditioner on or off. In some cases, you don’t even find out about the problem until your AC has run all night and the temperature in the house has hit 60 degrees F. Sometimes the only way to stop the blower is by turning off a circuit breaker. In this case there could be a wiring problem or a short or even a thermostat problem. The blower motor relay or control may need replacing. If the blower motor does not run at all, it may be due to a capacitor or motor problem.
6 | One room in a house is a lot hotter during summer months than the rest of the house
In this case, a whole house energy audit is the best place to start. In some cases, you might want to replace a home’s registers so that up-to-date dampers can be installed; that way you can balance the cooling in various rooms. Sometimes ducts need resealing. If the home is newer and has flexible ducts, a sealant can actually be brushed on the leaky area; in older homes with rigid ducts, the leaks can also be sealed as well. But in some cases, with more “historic” homes, ducts may have to be replaced because the previous system was designed to handle evaporative coolers and not today’s air conditioners.
Every one of the situations we described can be a lot more complicated than these basic descriptions. You need to hire a licensed, trained contractor to deal with your air conditioning system to have the proper repairs done and the right parts replaced.
Information for this article was provided by our Rosie partners, REEis, Integrity Air, Isley’s and Pro Solutions Air.