5 most common air conditioning problems

by Team HomeServe |
Broken AC unit

Here's a horror story for you: My air conditioning stopped gracing my home with cold air in the middle of July. In Florida. Yep. We're talking 100 degrees Fahrenheit on top of 100% humidity. It didn't take long for the discomfort to settle in - and for me to start yelling, "Can someone please tell why my AC is not working?"


In the event that you find yourself in a similar situation, it helps to know some of the common issues that tend to plague cooling systems. That way, you can start troubleshooting the problem before the heat goes to your head.

Here are five of the most common examples of AC troubles:

1. Dirty filters

According to Consumer Reports, the No. 1 problem that affects both window units and central cooling systems is clogged filters. They restrict the machines' airflow, which means you stop feeling the cooling benefits.

The fix: Clean or replace your air filter ASAP. From there, inspect the filter about once a month to make sure it's not too dirty.

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2. Thermostat troubles

If your AC is failing to blow out cold air or simply isn't working at all, check your thermostat for clues. It could be the thermostat batteries, sensors may be malfunctioning, or the device might be reading the wrong temp because its location is in direct sunlight.

The fix: Make sure your thermostat is in an ideal location and all the elements are working properly. Try resetting the system's circuit breaker if everything else looks good.

3. Leaking

Clogged filters, cracked drain lines, broken pumps or faulty insulation can cause water to drip both inside and outside of your home, according to Sears Home Services. If your unit is low on refrigerant, a leak could be the reason. What's more, leaks in ductwork and insulation can also be the source of cooling problems.

The fix: You can try looking for the source of the leak, but it's generally a good idea to call a licensed technician for help.

4. Crowded compressor

Are plants, overgrown grass or other debris outside your home blocking the unit? If so, they could be restricting the compressor, which can cause uneven or poor cooling indoors.

The fix: Consumer Reports advised allowing at least two to three feet of clearance between your AC unit and plants or other structures, plus five feet of space between the top of the unit and trees.

5. Improper upkeep

The source of many air conditioning problems is in inadequate maintenance, according to the Department of Energy. Without proper upkeep, your system is likely to break down prematurely.

The fix: Don’t skip the annual inspection. Plus, follow these preventative HVAC maintenance tips to help get more cooling time out of your system.

Be sure to keep these HVAC maintenance do's and don'ts in mind If you try to tackle the problem on your own. Depending on the severity of the issue, it may also be time to make the tough decision: Should you repair or replace your cooling unit? One way to be prepared for AC system issues is to consider purchasing a home warranty plan.

Being prepared for unexpected and unfortunate home repairs is always a good idea. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.