Solutions for common air conditioner problems

December 7, 2020

Air conditioner installers report that as summer hits, they get a flurry of calls from clients who are experiencing issues. This, at a time when you want your cooling kit to be working its best. After the unit has been lying dormant during the winter months, it may need a tuneup, in the form of a service, to make sure it's in good working order before you put it back into use. Maintenance is essential not only to prevent breakdowns but also to ensure the unit runs efficiently, prevent unnecessary repairs, and prolong its lifespan.

Rod from Penair shares with us some of the most common air conditioner issues that are reported:

Aircon issue 1: Indoor water leaks

When you notice water leaking from the indoor unit, this is a clear sign that it's in need of some maintenance. It is leaking, likely because the system's condensate drain is clogged due to algae or fungi. This causes the water to back up the pipe and overflow into your home. You may need to get an expert to look at the condensate pump, which could be faulty. While it's wise to ask a technician to unblock the drain, you can attempt to do so using a wet or dry vacuum. To eliminate the fungi and algae buildup, pour vinegar into the drain.

Aircon issue 2: Outdoor water leak

These are typically experienced when there’s been a hot day. You may notice a puddle of water under the compressor of your air conditioner. Causes range from poor installation, to a broken condensate pan, a broken seal, and more.

You must turn off the air conditioner and disconnect the power supply if you notice an outdoor water leak. Next, call in a technician so they can investigate the root cause of the leak.

Aircon issue 3: Refrigerant Leak

The liquid used in your aircon system is an important part of the cooling mechanism. If there is a leak of the refrigerant, your aircon won't work as efficiently. If there is a minor leak, a technician may be able to top it up. If there is a fault in the pipes, however, the network might need to be changed.

Aircon issue 4: Dirty filter

The air conditioner filter plays a vital role by keeping the airflow clean and free from dust and pollutants. When clogged, it restricts the airflow, affecting the efficiency of your airconditioning system. It will also reduce the ability of the system to cool the air. Most manufacturers recommend checking and cleaning the filter every three to four months (every two months if you have pets). If you have a smart AC controller, it will automatically help you check your system's filter status.

Aircon issue 5: A frozen evaporator coil

One cause of your aircon going on the blink is if the evaporator coil has become frozen. It can freeze when the air conditioner doesn’t receive enough air needed to operate. Sheets of ice can accumulate on the coil, which prevents it from being able to absorb heat. A technician will advise you first to allow the evaporator coil to thaw by switching it off (remember to disconnect the power). Call a professional to fix the problem then.

Aircon issue 6: Electric control failure

The compressor and fan of the system can wear out. The compressor, condenser motor, and blower motor are needed to be connected start the unit. The corrosion of wires can disrupt this connection. One of the things a technician will do when you have an annual service is to ensure the cables and electrics are in order. It's part of essential maintenance.

Aircon issue 7: Fan failure

The outside unit of the system works by transferring the heat from indoors to outdoors. It does so through a fan located in the outdoor unit. If the fan doesn’t perform efficiently, then proper heat transfer can’t take place. This can lead to the airconditioner’s compressor overheating or tripping the safety load. It can also cause damage to the compressor, which will need to be replaced – note this is an expensive part to replace so should be avoided.

If you notice the fan has stopped, it could indicate a problem with your system's wiring. There may be some loose components. Turn off the power and remove the outer casing to inspect the problem.

A breakdown in summer can be inconvenient and annoying. Rather prevent these aircon issues from cropping up by scheduling regular air conditioner maintenance. This will also help you detect underlying problems that can decrease your system's efficiency or lead to costly repairs, or even the replacement of your system.

Do you need to replace your aircon? Here are signs that you may need to:

  • It’s more than 15 years old.
  • You are paying for repairs regularly.
  • Your energy bills have spiked.


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