In the US, 17% of the energy consumption of an average household goes toward air conditioning use.
If you live in the warmer area of Port Charlotte, Florida, though, your home likely uses much more energy. You’d need to keep your AC running most of the time to beat the port’s 80°F (or higher) temperatures.
As important as it is to stay cool, however, extended use of an AC can lead to its premature failure. Lack of maintenance could also result in your air conditioner not working efficiently.
Therefore you should pay attention to the signs that will tell you that your AC is about to break down before it does. As soon as you spot the signs below, have an AC technician address the issue before it worsens.
1. Is Your Air Conditioner Not Working and Has No Power at All?
The AC power supply cord, the wall outlet, or the circuit breaker could all be culprits. The power cord may only have been disconnected accidentally, or it may be the outlet that has failed.
However, a tripped circuit breaker could also be a sign of a faulty (as in overheating) AC motor.
Frayed AC Power Cord
First, check that the air conditioner’s power cord is plugged to the outlet securely. If it’s not, inspect the cord for damage, such as fraying or broken-off sections before plugging it in. A broken air conditioner power cord is a serious electrocution and fire hazard.
If you find any kind of damage on the power cord, it’s best to call an AC repair specialist. It’s too risky to simply wrap those frayed parts with electrical tape. Even the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says this about frayed cords.
Using the wrong tape or too much of it could affect the cord’s flexibility. If this happens, the appliance — your AC in this case — could suffer from internal damage.
Burned Out or Damaged Wall Outlet
If your air conditioner doesn’t power on, it may not be the AC itself but the electrical outlet it plugs into. Electric receptacles usually last for many years, but they can fail early depending on their use. The more use they get, the shorter their lifespan.
That said, air conditioners need a lot of electricity, so if the wall outlet is not up to par, it can burn out. That’s why it’s best to have a dedicated receptacle for your AC.
Burn or scorch marks on the wall outlet also show that the AC is drawing too much power. It has overloaded your home’s electrical circuit, which likely killed the outlet. You need to plug it in a separate wall outlet with a 220- or 240-volt rating.
If there are no burn marks on the outlet, connect another high-wattage appliance to it. If it also doesn’t work, then the issue isn’t with your AC, but the outlet or the electrical wiring in your home. Here, you need a licensed electrician to inspect your home’s electrical system.
If the other appliance works, however, then it means that your AC has a problem. The thermostat — the part that activates the air conditioner — may have already failed. A fuse could also have blown or the AC motor itself is dead.
Either way, the only way to get your AC running again is to have these parts fixed or replaced. Let your Port Charlotte air conditioning experts handle the job safely for you.
A Tripped Circuit Breaker
Your AC may not be turning on because the circuit breaker that supplies it with power has tripped. This can happen after a power outage to prevent electricity overload once the power goes back on.
A circuit breaker’s job is to cut off electricity flow when it gets too high. Its role is to keep the electricity from burning and melting electrical wiring.
In short, it helps prevent electrical fires. Keep in mind that from 2012 to 2016, there was an average of 44,880 US home fires each year because of electrical failures.
While it’s vital for a circuit breaker to trip, a malfunctioning AC could make it trip often. This means that the air conditioner is sucking too much power that it overloads the circuit. Loose connections, fan motor issues, and refrigerant leaks can all cause overloading.
If your circuit breaker trips often, especially if it does after turning the AC on, call in the pros ASAP. These are AC issues you shouldn’t delay getting fixed, as they will only worsen and cause the entire unit to fail.
Also, if your AC doesn’t turn on even after resetting the breaker, it may have overheated. The heat could have been too much that it burned key components, such as the motor. Your AC wouldn’t turn back on unless you get the motor fixed or replaced.
2. Does Your AC Have Airflow Problems?
Airflow problems may be in the form of poor airflow, warm air, or not enough cool air. In most cases, these issues require the attention of an HVAC technician.
If your air conditioner won’t cool because of weak airflow, you may only need to change or wash the filter. Dirt and debris build-up could have hampered the airflow, which is why the air doesn’t feel “cool enough.”
If changing or replacing the filter doesn’t solve the issue, damaged fan blades could be the cause. Poor airflow is also one sign of a bad AC compressor. An AC motor on its last legs may also not be supplying enough power to the compressor and fan.
All these signs of AC trouble are best left in the hands of air conditioner professionals. Get your home cooler serviced now before its key components ultimately fail.
The AC Blows Out Warm or Hot Air
First, make sure that the thermostat is set to cool and not on “auto” or “heat” mode. If you still feel warm air, it may be because of a faulty compressor. It may no longer be able to change the refrigerant temperature.
Another possible culprit is leaking refrigerant, which could be a serious health threat. Especially if you have an older AC that still uses Freon (R-22). Exposure to these chemicals can lead to refrigerant poisoning.
Whether your AC is from Rheem Pro or another brand, don’t put off having pros check your unit. They can still fix a malfunctioning compressor, helping you avoid a pricier replacement. If the problem is a Freon leak, however, it may be time to replace your air conditioner.
Short-cycling occurs when an AC turns off before it completes the cooling cycle. Dirty air filters are often to blame, as they can restrict the airflow and cause overheating.
If you have a new or clean filter but the AC still short-cycles, then frozen evaporator coils may be the culprit. Aside from dirty filters, a faulty air handler or damaged fans could lead to this issue.
A broken thermostat can also report wrong temperature readings. It could be “sensing” that the room is colder than the actual room temperature. It “thinks” that the air is cool enough, so it shuts down earlier than it should.
A busted control board or low refrigerant levels may also lead to short-cycling. In both cases, your AC may also make clicking sounds.
You can easily change or wash dirty filters, but for the rest, it’s best to call an HVAC professional.
3. Are There Odd Sounds Coming Out of Your AC?
Some sounds, like slight humming, are normal. However, if your AC never made these noises before, it’s best to get in touch with a repair technician.
Rattling or Banging
These sounds could mean that there’s a foreign object inside the AC. They also signal dirty fan blades or that a part has become dislodged.
Buzzing or Humming
These noises could also indicate loose parts, including nuts, bolts, and screws. The fan blades may also be in need of tightening. A more serious cause, however, is a refrigerant leak.
Detached parts, especially inside the compressor, could be bumping against other parts. Out-of-balance fan blades may also be hitting other parts as they rotate.
Squealing or Squeaking
The blower and fan blades can make such noises if there’s not enough lubricant. It could be worse though, as squeaks and squeals may also be a sign that these parts are going bad. Lose, rusting parts can also generate these sounds when air blows past them.
“Screaming” or “Wailing”
As soon as you hear such sounds, turn your air conditioner off right away. This is almost always an indication of a refrigerant leak. Not only is it a health threat — it could also damage the evaporator coils and compressor.
Knowing When to Call the Pros Can Save More Than Just Your Air Conditioner
As you can see, there are a lot of potential causes of an air conditioner not working properly. What’s important is to know when a DIY fix is okay vs when it’s time to call the pros. If your AC is acting up and displaying any of these symptoms, then it’s time to call HVAC specialists.
The sooner you do, the less damage your air conditioner will sustain. Besides, getting your AC fixed ASAP means making it energy-efficient once again. This then translates to reduced energy use, which equates to lower utility bills.
Have you noticed one or more of these signs that your air conditioner is in disrepair? If so, then get in touch with us here at Cliffs Air Conditioning and Heating, Inc.! We’re proud Rheem Pro partners, but we also specialize in fixing other brands of HVAC units.