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Top 5 Air Conditioning Problems and Solutions

HVAC tech demonstrating how to use a thermostat to two homeowners

Is your air conditioning system not cooling or not working at all? Check out our interactive photo that helps troubleshoot five common AC problems.

When it comes time to fire up your AC for the season, does your cooling system sound like a velociraptor is trapped inside it? Are there bumps and groans you’ve never heard before? Is the cooling just not cool? Your system might be falling prey to one of five common problems. Troubleshoot these issues with tips from Craig Martin, director of heating and cooling at Sears.

PROBLEM: AC not working at all.

LIKELY CULPRIT: If your AC just doesn’t work, period, your first line of defense is checking the batteries in your thermostat. If the batteries are good, check your system’s circuit breaker. If that’s fine, make sure it’s set to “cool.” Still nothing? Call in an expert.

PROBLEM: Uneven cooling.

LIKELY CULPRIT: One room in your house is freezing, another is a sauna. What’s up with that? Check a few things. Is your ductwork intact? What about your insulation? Leaks in ductwork and insulation are some of the top causes of uneven cooling.

PROBLEM: Not cooling.

LIKELY CULPRIT: Have you changed the air filter in the last few months? Do that first. If it’s still not cooling, your thermostat might be the problem. If everything’s working there, head outside. What’s the state of affairs with the AC unit itself? Any overgrown plants? Is anything leaking? If you can’t find anything obviously amiss, call a heating and cooling technician.

PROBLEM: Leaking water.

LIKELY CULPRIT: Drips and leaks can be caused by a clogged filter, a cracked drain line or insulation pulling away from the refrigerant lines. Visually check for these issues. If you can’t see the source of the problem, call a heating and cooling expert for help.

PROBLEM: Frozen coils.

LIKELY CULPRIT: Frozen coils are typically caused by low refrigerant or restricted airflow. To check for restricted airflow, inspect the filter first to make sure it is not clogged. If the filter is dirty, clean it or replace it. Then put your hand by the supply vents to make sure you have good airflow coming out. If the filter is clean and you have no airflow, take a look at the ductwork to see if there are any crushed or disconnected sections. If you can’t see anything, call in an expert.

Sometimes, common air conditioning problems have easy fixes. Want to stay cool this summer? Do your heating and cooling system a favor and make sure you’ve got a clean filter and proper airflow.

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