It is wise to turn on your air conditioner prior to the season starting. Frequently, problems arise from the system “booting up” for the first time after being off for a number of months. Refrigerant can pool at the bottom of your compressor causing problems when it begins to run again.

It’s recommended that you have an inspection of your AC unit either during your annual maintenance or just prior to the summer season starting to ensure that your system is running efficiently and problem free.

Here are some of the most common problems with central air conditioning systems.

  1. Filter

One of the typical reasons air conditioners don’t work properly is a clogged or dirty filter. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions as to how often to change your air filter. Some are monthly, others every three months, while some are reusable and should be cleaned when they are dirty. One way to determine if a filter needs to be cleaned is to check if any light passes through it. If not, it’s time to clean it. Dirty filters not only reduce the flow of air but can also cause the AC unit to freeze.

  1. Thermostat

Another easy fix is to make sure your thermostat (which controls the temperature setting in your home) is turned on, the inside is clean, it’s level, it’s not being affected by sunlight, and it’s on the correct setting. If problems persist, there may be another issue.

  1. Refrigerant Leaks

When the coolant starts leaking in the air conditioner, the unit will not perform correctly, and the temperature will fluctuate. The location of the leak will affect the cost of the repair so having this examined yearly by a trained AC technician is advised.

  1. Drainage

Like the filter, the drain line can become clogged with dirt, dust, and lint. If it becomes clogged, the drain pan will fill up, and water will leak out potentially causing damage to the AC unit or whatever is around your pan.

  1. Breakers or Fuses

The breakers and fuses safeguard the AC unit’s motor or compressor from overheating. Often when a motor dies, one of the first parts the HVAC technician checks is the breaker.

  1. Capacitors

Without capacitors, the motors that power the compressor and fans won’t work. The start capacitor sends a jolt to activate the motor, while the run capacitor provides a series of jolts to keep the motor working. The AC unit won’t run efficiently if either burns out.

  1. Compressor

The compressor applies energy to the refrigerant and propels it through the coils to carry out heat exchange. If the compressor is not working, the AC unit will not cool your house. If there’s not enough refrigerant, the compressor will run hot and eventually seize. If there’s too much, the refrigerant will return to the compressor, which can cause it to fail.

  1. Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils absorb heat in the air and send it back into the house as cold air using a series of air ducts. Coils can become corroded, but if they are located inside, they typically only require maintenance every three years.

  1. Condenser Coils

Condenser coils are located outside with the compressor so they can become dirty due to the elements. They can usually be cleaned with a water hose once a year, but if they get too dirty, an HVAC technician will have to clean them with a chemical cleaner.

  1. Worn Contactor

In an AC unit, there are contactors for the compressor, the blower motor, and the condenser fan motor. They make an electrical connection that starts the motors and compressor. If there’s arcing and pitting on the contactor, it becomes difficult for electric current to start the motors.


Remember, it’s recommended to give your ac system a trial run before summer.

Be pro-active! If your system needs repairing or upgrading you’ll want to look after it before the weather becomes too hot. In the middle of summer, it’s not uncommon to wait numerous days to get an appointment with a technician.

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