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Watch Out for Common Air Conditioner Problems

If your air conditioner is not performing as it should, there are a couple of things you can do before calling your HVAC technician. Some common air conditioner problems can be easily solved if they are not equipment-related. If you're having trouble keeping your home in the greater Chicago area comfortable during the cooling season, check and see if you recognize any of the following issues:

Common Air Conditioner Problems

Inadequate Cooling

Inadequate cooling is probably the most common air conditioner problem homeowners face. If your air conditioner fails to cool your home adequately, make sure all windows and outside doors are closed. If you're using a room air conditioner, do your best to isolate the room, closing off any connected spaces. Room air conditioners are only meant to keep a small area comfortable, and cannot maintain the temperature for an entire house.

Faulty Service

It may also be that your air conditioner problems stem from poor service, lack of proper maintenance or a faulty installation. This can lead to a variety of problems, including low or unbalanced airflow and leaky ducts. Regular homeowner A/C maintenance will ensure that the air filter, as well as the inside and outside cooling coils stay clean for satisfactory system performance. Otherwise. your compressor and fans may need to be replaced prematurely.

Another reason for poor system performance may be an insufficient amount of refrigerant in the system. The A/C's refrigerant level has to match manufactor's specifications for optimum performance and efficiency.

The best way to handle these air conditioner problems is to be proactive and make sure you keep your HVAC systems professionally maintained without neglecting occasional DIY maintenance. Always take care to select a reliable, NATE-certitied technician for regular professional maintenance; your A/C is a significant financial investment, and should only be trusted to professonal technicians.

Electrical/Thermostat Issues

Electrical connections to the equipment can also cause problems with your air conditioner often. Check any fuses or breakers to see if that might be causing the failure. Make sure to let the unit cool down for at least five minutes before resetting the breaker. Check the thermostat to make sure the temperature setting is a few degrees lower than the actual room temperature and leave it set to "Auto" rather than "On" or "Fan Only."

Compressor Stopping

On a particularly hot day, your air conditioner's high-pressure limit switch might be triggered, causing the compressor to stop. You can reset this easily, by locating the compressor's access panel and pressing the appropriate button.

Refrigerant Leaks

While low refrigerant can be a result of improper installation or servicing, it can also be caused by a leak. You may be able to detect a leak by a hissing sound in the refrigerant line. If your unit does have a leak, it's important to hire an HVAC technician, rather than trying to fix it yourself. A properly trained technician can find and fix the leak, and then properly recharge the unit. You don't want the refrigerant charge to be too high or too low, but rather precisely at the recommended amount for your system.

Electrical Problems with the Equipment Itself

Electrical problems can also occur inside your air conditioner. At some point, the fan controls and compressor can wear out. This is more common when a system is oversized for your home. Prevention is easy with regular maintenance service, though. During a regular maintenance call, your service technician should check all electrical contacts and connections.

Drainage Issues

During humid weather, your condensate drain may get clogged. Check that it's draining properly, and clear any blockages. Room air conditioners run into this problem frequently. If they are not mounted level because that results in inproper draining.

Dirty Filter or Coils

Over time, the cooling coils of your A/C, both inside and outside, can become covered with dirt and grime. The evaporator coil inside may attract mold or bacteria. These should be cleaned or treated regularly, since anything that impedes the heat exchange process of your A/C will reduce its efficiency and eventually cause it to break down. Also, make sure you inspect the system air filter once a month, and replace or clean it as soon as it appears dirty. A dirty filter will slow airflow and cause your equipment to work harder to compensate. Needless to say, this wastes energy and leads to premature breakdowns.

If you're having air conditioner problems or need to schedule a maintenance check in the greater Chicago area, northwest Indiana or southwest Michigan, contact us at We have over 40 fully licensed and insured providers ready to help you!

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