A poorly cooling air conditioner doesn't necessarily mean that you need to replace the unit. The following are five common issues that are repairable with the help of an HVAC technician.
1. Blown Fuse
If your AC simply shuts down and refuses to power back on, the culprit may not be the unit itself but the fuse. In most homes, the air conditioner or HVAC system is on its own fuse within the breaker box. This means if the fuse trips, only the AC will shut down. You can find out if this is the case by locating the AC fuse in the breaker box and flipping it all the way off. Wait a moment, and then switch it back on. If the fuse is the issue, your AC should function normally now.
2. Skipped Maintenance
Skipping annual maintenance leads to issues like dirty evaporator coils and filters. Poor cooling can sometimes be fixed simply by having the coils clean. A dirty filter can lead to poor cooling, an AC that keeps freezing up, or a unit that turns on and off rapidly due to a process known as short cycling. Schedule maintenance every year, either in late winter before you fire on the unit for the spring and summer, or in early fall once you have turned it off for the season.
3. Worn Fan and Compressor
When the fan or compressor starts to go out, your unit may cool poorly, shut down unexpectedly, or make horrible grinding or whining noises. Sometimes the problem can be repaired easily, such as by simply tightening the fan assembly to prevent rattling noises. In other instances, such as a failing compressor, the part will need to be replaced. Depending on your unit, there may be worn parts, such as bearings or belts, that can be replaced.
4. Refrigerant Leaks
Without your AC does little more than circulate hot air in your home. This tends to happen because the refrigerant isn't cooling the air, and it may be that you're loosing refrigerant. The refrigerant should move within a closed system, which means it never needs to be replaced, but sometimes small leaks occur in the refrigerant lines. You may hear a hissing if you are near the unit when the leak occurs, but generally there are no signs of a problem other than an AC that runs but fails to cool. An AC technician can check the refrigerant levels and fix the leak if necessary.
5. Thermostat Failure
Sometimes the unit itself is fine, but the thermostat is beginning to fail. In this case, you may be able to get the unit to cool but you may have to adjust the thermostat to a much lower temperature than desired. The thermostat will need to be checked to determine if it is the problem. If so, a new thermostat is an inexpensive fix that will get your home cool again.
If your AC isn't working to cool your home, call a technician in your area for any needed AC repairs.