ac unit problemsAir conditioning units are mostly built to last. The fact that a central air conditioner has a typical lifespan of 15 to 20 years is a testament to its sturdiness, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be any problems along the way. An AC unit is a machine, and machines do break down every so often, particularly when they aren’t maintained all that well.

An AC unit is bound to face a number of issues over the years. Some of those AC problems, however, are more common than others. Keep an eye out for these common air conditioning problems so you can take action immediately:

Ice buildup

You’d think that frozen evaporator coils are normal for a machine designed to keep people cool, but they aren’t. In fact, an AC unit that freezes up usually means there is something very wrong with it. It could be caused by something as simple as a dirty air filter, or something as urgent as a lack of refrigerant.

Whatever the cause of the freezing up, you have to get it immediately checked because it can cause your air conditioner to break down, which could lead to costly repairs or even replacement by buying a new AC unit.

Poor airflow

So you’ve been sitting on the couch with your AC unit running at full blast, and you’re still drenched in sweat. Try putting your hand up in front of the vent, and you’ll realize that there is hardly any air coming out of it.

Several things could cause weak airflow in air conditioners. A dirty air filter is one. A sluggish blower motor is another. It’s also possible that the ducts are blocked or has holes that leak cooled air. Poor airflow not only causes performance problems but may also cause your energy bills to rise, as the unit works harder—and therefore uses up more electricity—to compensate for it.

Weird sounds

Compared to most appliances, AC units can get very loud. However, any sound that go beyond the usual hum of a well-functioning air conditioner should set off alarms in your head.

When you hear a buzzing sound, the problem is likely electrical in nature, like a malfunctioning fan motor or loose wiring. A screeching or screaming noise, meanwhile, could be an indicator of issues with either the fan motor or the compressor. If you’re hearing a thumping, banging, or rattling noise, it’s possible that your motor mount has come loose, or that your blower has become misaligned.

The most worrying sound, however, is a hissing or bubbling noise, because it’s usually a sign of a refrigerant leak. Leaking refrigerant means inefficient cooling, which could drive your energy bills up.  Even worse is the fact that leaking refrigerant exposes you and your family to certain health hazards, including refrigerant poisoning, which can cause headaches, breathing difficulties, coughing, skin and eye irritation, and nausea and vomiting.

When your AC unit produces these strange sounds, shut it down immediately and call HVAC professionals in as soon as possible.

Strange smells

You need to get an HVAC professional to check your air conditioner right away the moment you smell something burning coming out of the vents. It’s likely to be electrical, and you wouldn’t want a fire to break out, so shut your unit down immediately. You should also do the same thing if you can smell something rotting from the unit. A bird or a rodent may have entered your ducts and died there, and they’re stinking up the whole place

No cool air

Your AC unit may have a good airflow going, but if the room still feels warm after an hour of operation, then it’s having problems generating cold air. It could be a dirty air filter, but cleaning or replacing it still doesn’t work, then it could be problems with the thermostat, fan or fan motor issues, or a malfunctioning PCB assembly or electronic control board.

Wet spots near your AC unit

Water pooling near or around your AC unit could mean that it’s producing excessive moisture. Such levels of moisture can be caused by a refrigerant leak, or it could be something as simple as a defective drain tube. Too much moisture can damage your system, so have AC professionals check your unit to prevent it.

Astronomical energy bills

A huge utility bill at the end of the month may not be a common AC unit problem per se, but it is a strong indicator that there is, indeed, a problem with your air conditioner.  A dirty air filter can make your energy bill skyrocket as the weak airflow that it causes makes the unit work doubly hard and consume more electricity. However, huge electrical bills can also be blamed on AC inefficiency due to dirty coils, faulty installation, duct holes or leaks, low refrigerant charge, or a refrigerant overcharge.

Your AC unit needs care not only when it’s not functioning perfectly, but also when it’s running just fine. Have regular maintenance performed on your air conditioner, and reduce the frequency of AC unit problems.

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