HVAC systems require consistent maintenance to perform well. But your A/C unit may still undergo common cooling problems even with regular upkeep. Sometimes, bad user practices can result in a broken machine. Find out what you’re doing that might cause damage to your A/C unit.

You might not be thinking about your A/C unit right now, but you don’t want it to suddenly break down in the summer. During this downtime, consider checking this machine to find out if there’s anything wrong. When you do, you can have it repaired accordingly.

Common Causes of A/C Problems

There are many reasons your A/C unit is not performing optimally. In some cases, it’s how you use it that’s causing the problem. Homeowners typically fall into bad habits in using their appliances. Familiarize yourself with these common pitfalls so you can correct your habits.

Low Refrigerant

Refrigerant is a substance that removes heat and moisture from the air. It’s normal for A/C units, especially old models, to leak this substance. It leads to low refrigerant levels and causes problems for the system, such as:

  • loss of cooling power
  • ice forming on the coil
  • damage to the compressor

Solution: When you see leaks, call an HVAC specialist who will determine where these are coming from and to patch them up.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Evaporator coils absorb heat from the air, allowing the A/C unit to do its job in cooling your home. These coils are filled with refrigerant to keep the air circulating and to prevent them from freezing over. When these coils are compromised, a layer of ice builds up on the unit’s exterior.

Solution: If your A/C unit is leaking, check to see if your evaporator coils froze.

Dirty Condenser Coils

close up photo of a condenser

Common HVAC problems often come from dirty parts.

“During winter, we tend to ignore cleaning the A/C. But leaving this off your to-do list will lead to dust and grime build-up in the unit, including its condenser coils.”

When you turn on the A/C unit without cleaning this, you will experience performance issues. If you leave it unattended, the machine’s natural wear will accelerate and potentially damage the system.

Solution: Make sure to clean your A/C unit, especially its condenser coils, during winter or when not in use. Do this again before you turn it on to avoid any performance problems.

Thermostat Problems

digital thermostat

If you have an old A/C unit that uses a dial-type thermostat, its calibration is likely wrong. When it’s not corrected, your A/C unit won’t perform at its best. If you have a programmable thermostat, you might make mistakes in calibrating it. This will result in the same consequence of making your A/C unit perform harder, again, wearing it off more rapidly.

Solution: If you have a dial-type thermostat, consider having it changed to a programmable one to have better control. If you are having problems with your programmable thermostat, consider checking the user manual or the manufacturer’s website for tips.

Clogged Drains

Your A/C unit has built-in drains to keep moisture in the air from leaking all over your floors. However, these drains can get clogged by dust, dirt, grime, and other debris. When you forget to unclog your drains, the water will back up and damage the entire system. At worst, the backup can leak out of the unit and damage your walls and furniture.

Solution: Check your A/C unit’s drains before turning it on. Clean it and remove any build-up. You may also hire a specialist to do it if you can’t reach the drains.

Fan Problems

Your A/C has two fans—one that blows air over the evaporator coil to keep it from overheating and another that blows air to expel absorbed heat. If either of these fans don’t work, you may experience compressor failure, which can permanently damage your A/C unit.

Solution: Check the motor for damage, the fan belt for excess wear, and the unit for grime build-up. If your fans still don’t function well after these steps, consider calling an HVAC specialist.

Now that it’s winter, you have enough time to have your A/C checked for damage. Talk to our team to schedule an appointment with one of our technicians. We’ll identify any problems and fix them before the summer.