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Common AC Problems and Their Symptoms

Black Diamond Experts Technician working on an air conditioner in Salt Lake City Utah

In this article we share some common A/C problems and their symptoms, plus tips for taking care of your air conditioner. 

Odd Sounds From the Compressor:

If you are hearing odd sounds from your compressor a couple of common problems are likely. The compressor is in the outdoor unit. It pumps the refrigerant into the evaporator coil and into the house. If the compressor is making loud noises it could be a sign that a piston is going out. A faulty motor can also make a higher pitched noise.


AC Isn’t Cooling

Some reasons that your AC may not be cooling properly include: 

  1. Thermostat Malfunctioning
    This could be a programming issue or a faulty thermostat.
  2. Not Enough Refrigerant
    A refill may be needed if your air conditioner is low on refrigerant. 
  3. Dirty Air Filters
    A dirty air filter can prevent the right amount of airflow required to move through the system. 
  4. Blower Not Blowing Any Air
    The blower is part of the air handler/furnace. If the indoor motor is malfunctioning this could be a reason for air not blowing.
If you can't see light through your air filter, it's time to replace it.
If you can't see light through your air filter, it's time to replace it.

Water Leaking from the Secondary

There should never be liquid in the drain pan beneath your HVAC system. If there is liquid in the drain pan, it is a sign of a blockage or the evaporator coil not draining. If your HVAC system is in your attic, water in the drain pan is especially problematic as it could lead to water damage.  If your HVAC system is not in the attic you’d look for liquid around the base of your air handler.  Learn more about condensate drain pans in this post.

  • Look for liquid pooling around the base, if there is liquid in the drain pan it’s a sign of a blockage.
  • It’s okay for the water to come out of the primary, exiting through the drain line. 
  • Water can short the electronics and damage ceilings if the unit is in the attic.
  • Yearly maintenance would catch this problem. 
Drain pan for an hvac system.

Frozen Refrigerant Line 

Low refrigerant and/or not enough airflow can cause your refrigerant line to freeze. This would cause the air conditioner to blow hot air instead of cool air.

If your air conditioner is low on refrigerant, your HVAC tech can measure and let you know if a refill is needed. A dirty air filter can also cause insufficient air flow resulting in a frozen refrigerant line. 

Air conditioner line can freeze if low on coolant or not getting proper air flow.

Pro Tips

  1. Change your air filter every few month as needed – write the date on the outside of the filter when you change it. This takes the guesswork out of knowing when you last changed it. 
  2. Schedule Yearly HVAC Maintenance (scheduled in the Spring and Fall). The peak of Summer and Winter are when HVAC technicians are their busiest making tune-ups hard to schedule. To get the best deal and prepare for the season ahead, heating and air technicians prefer to schedule yearly maintenance in Spring and Fall.
  3. Keep your outside unit clear of debris. Your condenser requires space around it to have proper air flow. If your condenser gets covered in weeds, debris, or even incased in dirt, this can block air from entering the HVAC system causing it to work harder and shorten its lifespan. 
  4. Open all of your vents. You need to move all of the air out of your HVAC  system. Closing vents could cause the refrigerant line to ice up because the air isn’t fully moving. 
When the compressor becomes covered in debris proper air flow is prevented.
When the compressor becomes covered in debris proper air flow is prevented.
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