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How Do I Diagnose What’s Wrong With My AC?



Air conditioners work hard all summer to keep you and your house cool and comfortable. However, with time, air conditioners tend to break down, and finding the cause of the problem can be difficult and it’s usually done by air conditioning repair services. But there’s no need to panic. Here are some troubleshooting tips that will help you fix the problem in no time.

Thermostat Malfunction

Thermostat malfunctions are uncommon in new air conditioners but common in old ones. In addition to that, thermostat issues are sometimes tough to spot. In such cases, homeowners tend to rush and call the experts assuming there is something wrong with the air conditioner.

The thermostat acts like the brain of an air conditioner. It communicates directly with the control board to increase or decrease the temperature. This means if there is something wrong with the thermostat, it will not be able to communicate properly with the air conditioner resulting in poor performance.

To fix the issue, you should first check the batteries. At the same time, clean the terminals to remove dirt and dust. Replace the batteries to see if the issue is fixed. If not, your thermostat might need calibration. For that, you will need to call an expert.

And, if nothing solves the issue, you will need to replace the thermostat.

Low On Refrigerant

Another reason your air conditioner might not be working normally is low refrigerant. Air conditioners need to have a certain level of refrigerant to produce and blow cool air. If that is not the case, the compressor will simply not be able to produce either cool or warm air.

In addition to that, if the issue is ignored, the compressor will heat up and eventually need to be replaced. Unfortunately, this is not something that you can fix on your own. However, you can try to determine the root cause of the problem.

If you own an old unit, it might be that cracks or leaks have caused the refrigerant to escape. But in the case of a new unit, it might be that an improper installation or maintenance job has caused leakage. To fix the issue, you will need a professional’s help.

Clogged Air Filters

Clogged air filters are one of the most common air conditioning problems. In most cases, it is negligence from the homeowners that causes the issue. However, what they fail to realize is that even though air filters seem to be simple components, they play a crucial role in the performance of the unit.

Air filters trap contaminants from the air preventing dust, dirt, and debris from entering the house. With time, they are supposed to become clogged and will need to be cleaned or replaced. As a general rule of thumb, you should inspect the air filters at least once a week or month depending on the usage, and clean them.

If the filters do not seem to be in good condition, you will need to replace them.

The Capacitor Is Dead

Even though it is rare for capacitors to die, it is not impossible. If you notice that your air conditioner is struggling to turn on and abruptly turn off or you constantly hear a clicking noise, it means there is a problem with the capacitor.

There are two types of capacitors: start and run. Both capacitors are sensitive to heat. This means overheating can cause capacitors to fail. If the unit is installed directly under the sun, constant exposure to heat can damage the capacitors.

Moreover, constant power surges can also cause capacitors to fail. Fortunately, replacing the capacitor is neither difficult nor expensive. However, you should not try replacing it on your own as it might carry an electric charge. You should consult HVAC repair services Vienna to get it replaced.

Dormancy Issue

Sometimes, air conditioners develop problems simply because they have not been used in a long time. For instance, if you live in a region where air conditioners are hardly used throughout the year, dirt and dust accumulation might make it difficult for the components to operate smoothly.

The best way to avoid such a situation is by keeping the air conditioner running for a few minutes every other day. This will keep the components in perfect running condition. But if you are planning to go on vacation, you should cover both the inside and outdoor units.

This will prevent birds, rats, and other intruders from taking up accommodation inside.

Uncleaned Condenser

The condenser is as important as the compressor. It is designed to collect the heat inside the unit and release it outside. However, for that to happen, the condenser needs to be clean and regularly maintained. If that is not the case and the condenser is covered with layers of dirt and dust, heat will not dissipate.

You can easily avoid this problem by scheduling professional maintenance at least once a year or depending on the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Uncleaned Coils

The air handler unit of an air conditioner consists of an evaporator coil. Depending on the unit, there might be more than one coil. The coils also help dissipate heat, which means they need to be clean as well. Compared to the condenser, the coils tend to be relatively sensitive and cannot withstand constant overheating.

This means that regular maintenance should also include cleaning the coils. This is something that you can do on your own as well by using a cleaning cloth and cleaning agent. However, make sure to disconnect the air conditioner from the main power supply before carrying out the cleaning procedure. Make sure to gently clean the coils to avoid damaging them.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

A tripped circuit breaker is not always directly the fault of your air conditioner. A circuit breaker is designed to trip if there are extreme electric fluctuations, preventing the air conditioner and other expensive electric appliances from permanent damage.

If that is the case, you should check the circuit breaker and switch it to the “ON” position. At the same time, check for any blown fuses as well. But if the circuit breaker is constantly tripping, it means the issue is far more complicated and will need to be fixed by an expert.

The AC Is Old

At the end of the day, if your air conditioner is constantly facing problems and you need to get it repaired, it simply means it has reached the end of its lifespan. In such a case, you cannot do anything but replace it.

The reason is that even if you continue spending on repairs and replacements, there is no guarantee that it will work for some time to come. Eventually, you will reach a point where the repair costs will exceed the actual price of the unit.

Therefore, it is better to save that money and invest in a new air conditioner. New air conditioners are also more energy efficient so you may save money on utility bills as well.


Even though it might take some time to detect the problem, at least you will have an idea of what needs to be checked and how. And if things seem complicated, you should have HVAC repair services Fairfax fix the issue.

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