Troubleshooting Air Conditioner Problems: Homeowner’s Guide

Troubleshooting Air Conditioner Problems: Homeowner’s Guide

Troubleshooting Air Conditioner Problems: Homeowner's GuideKnowing when to call in an HVAC technician if you suspect that your system has a problem can feel nerve-wracking. No one wants to deal with air conditioning problems in the summer.

It’s times like this that we wish we had some kind of homeowner’s guide to help us troubleshoot and understand if we are looking at a serious problem that needs immediate attention.

At John Cipollone, Inc. we understand how important it is to not only understand the basic workings of your heating and cooling system but to actually know when you need to take action to protect your investment. Check out this brief AC troubleshooting guide that we have put together for homes and businesses.

Central Air Troubleshooting: Common AC Problems

Weak Airflow

One of the most common AC problems homeowners face is weak airflow. This can result from various issues, such as a clogged air filter, closed or blocked air vents, and duct leakage.

A dirty air filter restricts airflow, decreasing your air conditioner’s efficiency and ability to cool your home effectively. Blower motor problems can also lead to weak airflow. A malfunctioning blower motor may not push enough air through the system, resulting in poor circulation.

AC Blows Hot Air

Another central AC problem is when the unit blows hot air instead of cool air. This problem can be caused by a frozen evaporator coil, low refrigerant levels, or an outdoor unit clogged with dirt and debris.

If the evaporator coil is frozen, it cannot absorb heat effectively, leading to warm air being blown into your home. In this case, ensure that the airflow is not restricted, and the refrigerant level is adequate.

Low refrigerant levels can also result in hot air coming from your AC. If the refrigerant level is low, it usually means there is a leak or the unit was undercharged during installation. A professional HVAC technician can locate and repair leaks and recharge the system if necessary.

Read More: Our Guide To AC Maintenance

Strange Sounds or Smells

If your central air conditioning system produces strange noises or emits unpleasant odors, it may indicate an underlying issue. Noises such as rattling, buzzing, or hissing can be caused by loose parts, electrical issues, or refrigerant leaks.

Unusual smells coming from your system could indicate mold growth, a burned-out motor, or other ac issues. Regular maintenance, including cleaning the evaporator coil, drain pan, and ductwork, can help prevent odor problems and keep your system running smoothly.

Rising Electric Bills

An increase in electric bills may be a sign of declining air conditioner efficiency. Obviously, your energy bills will go up when you use your AC more often, but sometimes an inefficient AC drives them up too much.

Several factors can contribute to reduced cooling efficiency, including dirty filters, duct leaks, and insufficient refrigerant.

Additionally, a mechanical problem can cause a rise in energy bills. It happens because the system is working harder than it should to do the job.

Central Air Conditioner Troubleshooting For Homeowners

Central air conditioners are the most common AC units, and tend to run into the same problems. Before you call in a professional, here are a few things you can check out on your AC system.

Air Filter

Dirty air filters are a common cause of air conditioner problems. Low airflow, ice on refrigerant lines, frozen evaporator coils, and water leaks are all potential issues caused by a dirty filter.

What to Do

Inspect your air filter and replace it if it’s dirty or clogged. Regularly check and replace filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. This simple maintenance step can prevent many residential air conditioning issues.


Incorrect thermostat settings can cause your AC to blow warm air or not turn on at all. Programmable thermostats can be particularly tricky to set correctly.

What to Do

Check your thermostat to ensure it’s set to COOL and not HEAT. If you have a programmable thermostat, consult the manual to ensure proper programming. If the problem persists, consider calling an HVAC technician for recalibration or replacement.

Circuit Breaker

A tripped circuit breaker can cause your air conditioner to stop working. Electrical problems can lead to higher energy bills and other complications.

What to Do

Inspect your home’s main electrical panel for any circuit breakers that are not in the ON position. If your AC circuit breaker has tripped, reset the circuit breaker by firmly pushing it into the ON position. If the breaker immediately trips again, call a professional to investigate further.

Outdoor Unit

A dirty or obstructed outdoor unit (compressor and condenser) can cause multiple air conditioning problems, including higher energy bills and inadequate cooling.

What to Do

Inspect your outdoor unit for dirt, debris, and direct sunlight. Clean the condenser coil with a gentle hose setting and ensure there are no leaves or branches obstructing the unit. Keep the area around the unit clear, with at least 2 to 3 feet of space between the unit and any plants or structures.


Blocked or closed air vents can lead to several issues, such as poor airflow, ice on refrigerant lines, and increased duct leakage.

What to Do

Walk through your home and ensure all supply and return vents are open and unblocked, even in unused rooms. Regularly vacuum registers to remove dust buildup, and ensure furniture and other objects aren’t obstructing airflow.

Read More: Cost Of An AC Repair

Air Conditioner Troubleshooting: When You Need A Pro

While some air conditioning issues can be solved through DIY methods, there are instances when you need to call an AC repair expert or an HVAC technician. These professionals possess the necessary skills, tools, and experience to diagnose and fix complex issues with your air conditioning unit.

Refrigerant Leak: If you notice a refrigerant leak, don’t try to handle it yourself. Refrigerant leaks can be harmful to your health and the environment. An HVAC technician can locate the leak, repair it, and recharge your system to the proper refrigerant levels.

Water Leaks: Persistent water leaks around your AC unit can indicate a clogged drain line or a malfunctioning condensate pump. A professional can identify the source of the leak and repair or replace the necessary components.

Fan Motors: If your air conditioner’s fan motors are not working correctly, the unit may overheat or struggle to cool your home. An HVAC technician can diagnose the issue and replace or repair the motors as needed.

Drainage Issues: Poor drainage can lead to water damage and mold growth. An AC repair expert can assess the situation, clear any blockages, and ensure proper drainage for your air conditioning unit.

AC Won’t Turn On: If your air conditioner won’t turn on even after checking the thermostat and circuit breaker, it’s time to call a professional. This issue could be caused by a variety of reasons, including electrical problems or a damaged compressor.

Duct Cleaning: Over time, dust and debris can accumulate in your air conditioning system’s ducts. An HVAC technician can provide duct cleaning services to improve your system’s efficiency and indoor air quality.

John Cipolline, Inc. has a long history of serving the Broomall, Pa area’s air conditioning needs. Our experienced technicians will walk you through each aspect of their service call and provide you with handy tips for HVAC preventive maintenance on your residential air conditioning system.


We have put together a few answers to these very common HVAC troubleshooting questions.

What is the most common problem with air conditioners?

The most common complaint that we hear about is an air conditioning system that won’t cycle off. Check the filters for dirt and debris and change them out frequently.

How do you reset an air conditioning unit?

Power down your air conditioning system by turning off the thermostat. Give the unit a rest for about 30 minutes to make sure that the power down has worked through the system.

What is the average life expectancy of an AC?

The average lifespan of an AC system is 15 to 20 years. You can get the most out of your system with regular maintenance and filter changes. Broomall, PA air conditioning system repairs.

Call John Cipollone, Inc. at (610) 446-7877 to speak with your trusted Broomall, PA air conditioning system repairs.

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