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Common Air Conditioner Problems

Common Air Conditioner Problems


In this blog I am going to tackle some of the more common questions and problems that our clients run into with their cooling and heating systems. I will list the question and then some possible causes and remedies for the problem. There may be other causes to the problems listed here as I have concentrated on the most common issues. Safety first, always disconnect the power to the unit before working on it!

Why is my air conditioner blowing hot air? Or why is my heat pump blowing hot air? This is probably the most common question that we get here in the Arizona desert.

  • The most common problem is that the air conditioner is not running. This can be caused by a tripped circuit breaker, blown fuse, bad start or run capacitor or a number of control problems. At the very least a home owner can check the circuit breaker and possibly the fuse if there is one at the unit. The circuit breaker is at the homes electric panel, if tripped the home owner can push it until it is all of the way off and then turn it back on. If the unit starts and runs, great leave it alone and see how it does. If the problem persists it will need to be looked at by an experienced technician.
  • Fuses can also cause the unit not to run. A homeowner can check the electric box mounted to the wall or the unit and see if it contains fuses (some have them and some do not), if it does contain fuses then just shut the circuit breaker off, remove the fuses and check them for continuity with a meter (you cannot tell by looking at them). If you do not have a meter or know how to use one take the fuses to a hardware store and have them tested. If after replacing a fuse that was blown the unit stops again or will not start, an experienced technician will be needed.
  • Past this there are a number of control issues that can cause a unit not to run, most people will not be able to trouble shoot past the fuses. Other problems can be a bad contactor, thermostat failure, bad transformer, high and low pressure switches, relays, printed circuit board problems and refrigerant issues. All of these will need an experienced technician to properly troubleshoot a refrigeration system.

Why is my air conditioner freezing lines?

This is a very common problem here in Gilbert and Phoenix. The refrigerant lines will form ice on them when their temperature falls below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and below the dew point. The lines should never be below 32 degrees, they will fall below 32 degrees when there is a lack of airflow in the system or if the unit is low on refrigerant.
  • Many times there is a lack of air flow due to an extremely dirty filter, a dirty blower wheel or a dirty indoor coil. A homeowner can change the dirty filter and may be able to open the unit and see if the coil or blower wheel is dirty. Before opening a unit all power should be disconnected in order to maintain safety. Many times it is difficult to see the coil or blower wheel, it may be easier to bring in an experienced technician.
  • If a unit is low on refrigerant it will run the coil at a lower temperature and cause freezing. Only an experienced technician should attempt to check the refrigerant charge in an air conditioning system as very high pressures can cause injury or death, so please leave this to the professional.

Why is my air conditioner making noise?

  • Most noises that come from air conditioners will come from motor bearings. It could be the outdoor motor, the indoor motor or the compressor. If the noise is at the outdoor unit then the noise is coming from the outdoor fan motor or the compressor.
  • Many times it is possible to disconnect the power from the unit, open a panel or the top of the unit and check the outdoor motor bearings by holding onto the shaft and gently rocking side to side. If there is any play in the bearing the motor should be replaced.
  • If the noise is coming from the compressor, more investigation will be necessary by an experienced technician as the compressor can make bearing noises as well as noise when there is liquid refrigerant coming back to it. This is not a DIY type noise so please get professional help.
  • Occasionally the outdoor fan blade will go bad by coming loose from the drive hub that attaches it to the motor or one of the blades may break and cause a severe out of balance noise. These can be checked by disconnecting the power to the unit, opening a panel or the top (depending on the unit) and checking blade surfaces if they are alright hold the motor shaft still and see if it is possible to turn the fan blade. If the fan turns and the hub does not then it must be replaced.
  • If the noise is coming from the inside fan motor it may be that the indoor fan motor bearings are going bad or it may be the blower wheel scraping the housing for some reason. By disconnecting the power to the unit and then opening the panel it may be possible to check the bearings as described for the outdoor fan motor. Some units will require the removal of the blower assembly in order to check the motor and blower wheel. If this is necessary it is absolutely necessary to write down where every wire went so as not to miss-wire the unit upon completion. Once the bad part is found it can be replaced with a new motor or blower wheel.

Why is my air conditioner not blowing through the vents?

Several things can cause the unit not to blow air through the vents.
  • If the motor is not running, no air will blow through the vents. This can be caused by a bad fan motor, bad indoor blower motor run capacitor, thermostat not asking the fan to run, a bad fan relay, or on some units a bad printed circuit board. Unless a person is very versed in the proper use of a volt meter these are problems best left to the professional.
  • If the indoor coil is frozen it will not allow air to pass through it. This can be caused by the indoor motor not running or the unit may be low on refrigerant. It will probably be necessary to have a professional check this and determine what the problem is.

Why is my air conditioner not working after power went off?

  • Sometimes when the power goes off and comes back on a unit may trip a breaker in the electric panel or blow a fuse at the unit if there is one. First of all shut the unit off for five minutes, then turn it back on and set the thermostat so that the unit should come on. Allow the unit ten minutes to resume running, if it has not come back on try checking the breaker and fuses as is described below.
  • Locate the breaker for the air conditioner in the electric panel, turn it all of the way off and then turn it back on. Give the unit ten minutes to resume running. If it does not start locate the fuses at the unit in the box mounted on the wall or the unit. These will have to be checked with a meter as most do not show visually that they are bad. If you do not have an ohm meter to test them, take them to your local hardware store and have them tested and replace as necessary.

Why is my air conditioner leaking water?

Air conditioners will produce condensate any time the coil is below the dew point. In Gilbert Arizona in the summer the unit will produce condensate and should run out the drain. Due to the large amount of dust in our area the drains will often clog and need to be cleaned out so that the pan does not overflow and make a mess. Many units in the Phoenix area are located in the attic and may have a secondary drain pan under the unit. In these cases there is usually a drain near the bottom of the wall and one located eight or ten feet up the wall. If there are two drains and water is coming from the high drain then the lower, primary drain has a problem and should be checked out asap as the next thing to go is the drywall below the unit, so call in a professional sooner rather than later to clear this up.
Contact us for any professional help you may need! Environmental Taming is always here to help!
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