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As temperatures rise, your air conditioning becomes crucial for comfort. However, when your AC malfunctions, it can quickly lead to frustration. Understanding common problems and knowing how to troubleshoot them can save you time and money. Here’s a homeowner’s guide to diagnosing and resolving AC issues:

Lack of Cooling

Problem: Your AC is running, but it’s not cooling your home effectively.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Check the thermostat settings: Make sure the thermostat is set to “cool” mode and the temperature setting is lower than the current room temperature. Sometimes, incorrect thermostat settings can prevent the AC from cooling properly.
  • Inspect the air filter: A clogged or dirty air filter can restrict airflow, causing the AC system to work harder and less efficiently. Check the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty. Regularly replacing or cleaning the filter can significantly improve cooling efficiency and extend the lifespan of your AC unit.
  • Inspect the outdoor unit: The outdoor unit (condenser unit) plays a crucial role in releasing heat from your home. Check if the outdoor unit is clear of any debris such as leaves, dirt, or grass clippings. Clear away any obstructions that could restrict airflow to the unit. Ensure there’s at least two feet of clearance around the unit for proper airflow.

Uneven Cooling

Problem: Some rooms are cooler than others, or certain spots remain warm.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Check for blocked vents: Ensure all vents throughout your home are fully open and unobstructed by furniture, rugs, or curtains. Blocked vents can restrict airflow and lead to uneven cooling distribution.
  • Inspect and adjust vents: In homes with multiple floors or large open spaces, consider partially closing vents in cooler rooms to redirect more airflow to warmer areas.
  • Consider a zoning system: Installing a zoning system allows you to control temperatures independently in different areas or zones of your home. This can help address uneven cooling by directing more cooling power to specific zones that need it most.

AC Not Turning On

Problem: The AC unit doesn’t start when you adjust the thermostat.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Check power supply: Begin by ensuring that the AC unit is receiving power. Check that it is plugged in properly to the power outlet. Also, inspect the circuit breaker panel to see if the breaker that controls the AC unit has tripped. If it has, reset the breaker and try turning on the AC again.
  • Inspect the thermostat: Verify that the thermostat is set correctly to “cool” mode and that the temperature setting is lower than the current room temperature. If your thermostat uses batteries, replace them with fresh ones to ensure proper operation.
  • Examine the air filter: A clogged air filter can restrict airflow, causing the AC unit to overheat and shut down as a safety measure. Inspect the air filter and replace it if it’s dirty. This simple step can often resolve issues with the AC not turning on.

AC Issues: Troubleshooting Guide for Homeowners

Strange Noises

Problem: Unusual sounds like grinding, squealing, or banging coming from the AC unit.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Inspect the fan blades: Turn off the power to your AC unit and carefully inspect the fan blades inside the outdoor unit (condenser). Loose or damaged fan blades can cause scraping or rattling noises when the AC is running. Tighten any loose screws or bolts that secure the fan blades. If the blades are damaged, they may need to be replaced.
  • Check for debris: Outdoor units can accumulate debris like leaves, twigs, or small rocks, especially if they are located near trees or shrubs. Clear away any debris from around the unit and inside the fan cage. Debris can cause vibrating or banging noises as it comes into contact with moving parts.
  • Inspect the condenser coil: Over time, dirt, dust, and debris can build up on the condenser coil, causing the AC unit to operate inefficiently and produce unusual noises. Clean the condenser coil using a soft brush or vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. Be gentle to avoid bending the delicate fins of the coil.

Water Leaks

Problem: Water pooling around the AC unit or leaks inside your home.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Check the condensate drain line: The most common cause of water leaks from an AC unit is a clogged condensate drain line. Over time, dirt, algae, or mold can build up in the drain line, causing a blockage. Inspect the drain line for any signs of obstruction. If you see algae or mold growth, you can try cleaning the drain line using a wet/dry vacuum or a mixture of bleach and water. Be sure to turn off the AC before attempting to clean the drain line.
  • Clear the condensate drain pan: Located underneath the evaporator coil, the condensate drain pan collects water as it drips from the coil during the cooling process. If the drain pan becomes cracked or damaged, it can leak water. Inspect the drain pan for cracks or holes and replace it if necessary. Ensure the drain pan is properly positioned and level to prevent water from overflowing.
  • Check for refrigerant leaks: In some cases, water leaks can be a sign of a refrigerant leak. If you notice water leaks accompanied by reduced cooling performance or ice buildup on the refrigerant lines or evaporator coil, contact a professional HVAC technician to inspect for refrigerant leaks and perform necessary repairs.

Frozen Evaporator Coil

Problem: Ice buildup on the evaporator coil.

Troubleshooting Steps:

  • Turn off the AC: Immediately turn off your air conditioning system to prevent further damage and allow the frozen evaporator coil to thaw.
  • Check airflow: Insufficient airflow over the evaporator coil is a common cause of freezing. Check the air filter first; a dirty or clogged filter restricts airflow, leading to ice buildup on the coil. Replace the filter if it’s dirty and make it a habit to check and change filters regularly.
  • Inspect vents and registers: Ensure all vents and registers throughout your home are open and unobstructed. Blocked vents can reduce airflow, contributing to coil freezing.
  • Check for refrigerant leaks: Low refrigerant levels can cause the evaporator coil to operate at lower temperatures than intended, leading to ice formation. Signs of a refrigerant leak include reduced cooling performance, hissing noises, or ice buildup on the refrigerant lines. If you suspect a refrigerant leak, contact a professional HVAC technician to inspect and repair the leak.

When to Call a Professional:

Calling a professional HVAC technician is essential in several situations to ensure safe and effective resolution of air conditioning issues:

  • Electrical problems: If you suspect or encounter electrical issues with your AC unit, such as tripped breakers, sparking, or burnt smells, it’s crucial to avoid handling these yourself due to the risk of electric shock or fire. A licensed technician has the expertise to safely diagnose and repair electrical faults.
  • Refrigerant leaks: Handling refrigerant requires specialized knowledge and equipment due to its potential harm to the environment and health risks. If you notice signs of a refrigerant leak, such as reduced cooling performance, hissing sounds, or ice buildup on the refrigerant lines, contact a professional HVAC technician immediately.
  • Complex mechanical issues: Issues involving components like the compressor, condenser coils, or blower motor often require professional diagnosis and repair. Attempting to repair these components without the necessary expertise can lead to further damage and costly repairs.
  • System maintenance and tune-ups: Regular maintenance is crucial for the longevity and efficiency of your AC system. A professional technician can perform comprehensive inspections, cleanings, and adjustments to ensure optimal performance and identify potential issues before they escalate.


In conclusion, addressing common AC issues promptly through systematic troubleshooting can often restore comfort and efficiency to your home. Regular maintenance and timely professional assistance are key to preventing larger problems and ensuring your air conditioning system operates smoothly throughout the seasons. By staying vigilant and proactive, homeowners can enjoy reliable cooling while extending the lifespan of their AC units. For expert help with your HVAC needs, contact us today at Best By Farr LLC, located at 781 Air Park Way Suite #A4, Cottonwood, AZ 86326 United States.