Air conditioning systems have become a modern day essential in the home and workplace, especially in hot, humid regions such as Queensland, Australia. Ensuring they operate effectively is not only vital for our comfort but also for our health and wallets.
Like all electronic equipment, air conditioners display signs and symptoms when they’re not at their best. Being proactive and recognising these early warning signs can save you from a lot of discomfort and potential expense down the line. Especially on hot, summer days where relative humidity in Brisbane and similar cities is consistently over 50% and temperatures 30 degrees +.
In this article, we’ll outline 7 clear signs that your air conditioning needs service. These range from lack of airflow to lack of cooling, and from aircon leaking water to not enough moisture being removed. We’ll also cover some of the reasons for an air conditioner service and provide actionable steps to ensure you know how to handle common aircon service indicators.
Sign 1: Air Conditioner Air Flow is Weak
Has your once-powerful air conditioner started to feel more like a gentle breeze? Or even worse: you can’t feel any airflow at all? Low or weak airflow can be one of the first signs that an air conditioning service is required.
There are a few main reasons why your air conditioner be underperforming in the airflow department:
- Blocked Pathways: Similar to how we struggle to breathe with a blocked nose, your AC might be struggling to deliver that refreshing burst of cool air when its pathways are restricted. This often stems from things like a dust-filled air filter or obstructions in the vents.
- Motor Issues: The motor is the heart of your air conditioner airflow. If it’s facing issues, it can directly impact the strength of the air being pushed out.
The unrestricted flow of air is essential not just for the efficiency of the AC units, but also for maintaining the desired temperature in your home or office. Clean and clear pathways ensure that your air conditioner operates smoothly, uses less energy, and provides consistent cooling. Think of it as giving your AC the lung capacity it needs to breathe and perform at its best!
Fortunately, there are a few checks and steps you can do for your air conditioner:
- Aircon Filter: AC filters can affect airflow and are typically part of an air conditioner service. It’s always a good idea to check and clean air filters regularly and replace when needed.
- Airflow Obstructions: Important to keep an eye out for any obstructions that might affect airflow. Check around both your indoor and outdoor condenser unit and remove any obstructions where safe to do so.
A little attention can go a long way in ensuring your space remains the cool haven you desire. If you’ve done these checks and the problem persists, it might be time to consult with a professional for an air conditioning service to assess any potential AC motor or ductwork issues.
Sign 2: Air Conditioner Not Blowing Cold Air But Running
Common conundrum: The air conditioner is humming along, appearing to be hard at work, and yet… the air isn’t cold?! Puzzling and frustrating! But don’t sweat it (literally and figuratively) – there are often straightforward reasons and solutions for this sign of air conditioner service being required.
There are dozens of reasons why an air conditioner is blowing warm air. Two of the most common include:
- Refrigerant Issues: Refrigerant is a key component of air conditioning. It’s the substance that your AC uses to remove heat and humidity from the air. If there’s a leak and it’s running low, the cooling capacity of your aircon can be severely affected.
- Faulty Compressor: Another potential troublemaker could be a faulty AC compressor. The compressor is essentially the powerhouse of your air conditioner. If it’s not working properly, or any part controlling it is faulty, the whole cooling process can be impacted.
There are a few checks you can do at home or at work, provided safe access and precautions taken:
- Controller Setting: It might sound basic, but sometimes the solution is as simple as ensuring the AC controller/thermostat is set to ‘cool’ and at the desired temperature. Accidental bumps or fiddly fingers can sometimes change settings without us realising.
- Circuit Breakers: Ensure that the circuit breakers for the AC unit are in the ‘ON’ position. Sometimes only the indoor unit can be running, and not the outdoor, leading to aircon not cooling.
If after these checks your AC is still more ‘warm’ than ‘cool,’ it may be time to look up air conditioning service near me. An HVAC technician can take a closer look at potential refrigerant issues, compressor operations, and other technical aspects that might be causing your air conditioner to not blow cold air.
Sign 3: Noisy Air Conditioner
There is a certain level of noise from an air conditioner we don’t mind hearing. In fact, we can certainly appreciate the gentle hum of an air conditioner working its magic on a hot day. But when that hum turns into a squeal, grind, or buzz, that’s a different story. That noise is a sign that an air conditioning repair service is needed, ASAP!
Different types of noises can mean different things:
- Squealing: This can indicate a problem with a fan motor belt, suggesting it might be loose or slipping out of place. Alternatively, it could be a sign of a motor bearing problem.
- Grinding: This can indicate that bearings in the motor are wearing out. Worst case, the grinding noise might indicate the motor assembly has completely failed.
- Buzzing: This is a tricky one, as it can indicate a wide range of issues. Buzzing can suggest loose parts, debris in the unit, refrigerant leaks, or electrical problems.
Ignoring these audible cues from your AC can be tempting, especially when the system still seems to be cooling your home or workplace. However, ignoring your air conditioner telling you it needs a service can lead to more significant and typically more expensive damage down the road. It’s similar to a small ache turning into chronic pain if left untreated.
There are a few initial things you can check when it comes to a noisy air conditioner:
- Visual Inspection: Sometimes the cause of the noise can be as simple as twigs, leaves, or debris caught in the outdoor condensing unit. Safely turning off the system and doing a visual inspection might help you identify and remove any obvious obstructions. Only undertake this if 100% safe to do so.
- Check the Insulation and Panels: Ensure all panels are secured correctly. Loose panels can rattle, causing additional noise. Also, over time the insulation that surrounds the AC unit might wear out, leading to increased noise levels. Checking and replacing it might be a quick fix. An HVAC technician is licenced to fix your AC insulation.
It the noises persists or if you require a professional solution, it’s best to contact an air conditioning service technician near you to look into it. They’ll have the expertise to identify the root cause, carry out aircon repairs, ensure your AC runs smoothly and quietly, and move onto an air conditioner service where possible.
Sign 4: Smelly Air Conditioner
Have you turned your air conditioner on, only to get more than you wanted out of the AC unit? While we love the cool breeze it provides, the unpleasant scent that can sometimes blow out instantly turns that relief into repulse. If your aircon smells like vinegar, musty, weird in any way, it’s important to pinpoint the cause and treat accordingly.
There are a couple of common reasons for offensive aircon odours:
- Bacteria: One of the worst smells from an air conditioner has to be a urine or vinegar-like odour. This can be puzzling and concerning. This smell is typically due to the build-up of bacteria within the unit. Such a scent indicates it’s time for thorough aircon cleaning.
- Mould and Mildew: Unsavoury mould spores and fungi can thrive in the damp, dark environment of your AC, especially in the ductwork, vents, or even the AC unit itself. When an aircon is running, it can blow these particles into your indoor environment.
- Burnt Wiring or Mechanical Issues: If you catch a whiff of something that smells like burning, it’s possible that the AC has an electrical issue, burnt wiring, or overheating parts. This is a serious issue and airconditioning use should stop immediately. An HVAC technician can help identify, repair, and then carry out a full air conditioner service to get your system back to full health.
Speaking of health, mould and bacteria build-up isn’t just a sensory annoyance… a smelly air conditioner can also be detrimental to your short- and long-term health. Prolonged exposure to mould spores can lead to respiratory issues, allergic reactions, and other health problems. These issues are especially severe for those with pre-existing conditions or sensitivities. An aircon service is not just about keeping your home smelling fresh; it’s about ensuring a healthy environment for you and those around you.
To help reduce chances of a smelly aircon, there are things you can do:
- Routine AC Maintenance: DIY air conditioning maintenance is a great starting point. By regularly cleaning your AC filters, ensuring proper drainage, and other steps outlined, you reduce the chance of bacteria building up to smelly and dangerous levels.
- Minimise Surrounding Moisture: It’s important to ensuring AC units and areas in the vicinity remain dry. This can be done by controlling moisture sources, using the appropriate aircon settings, and ensuring adequate ventilation (naturally or mechanically). These steps can significantly reduce the risk of mould and bacteria growth.
If you suspect that the odour might be due to electrical or mechanical issues, or if you’ve completed your own AC service and a musty smell persists, it’s time to call in a professional. They’ll thoroughly inspect the system, identify the root cause, and guide you on the best steps to take to resolve and maintain your AC system.
Sign 5: Leaking Air Conditioner
It’s never a good sign when you spot a puddle near your air conditioner. While air conditioners do produce condensation as part of their normal cooling process, that shouldn’t translate to aircon dripping water or water coming out of aircon in any undesirable location.
As part of the refrigerant cycle, air conditioners work by removing moisture from the air. This produces condensation which is normally handled and drained away without the aircon leaking water. However, when something goes wrong in this process, you might find yourself with unwanted water coming out of the indoor unit or system leaking water outside.
Apart from the obvious inconvenience, persistent water leaks are of concern for several key reasons:
- Cause Structural Damage: Aircon dripping water can damage floors, walls, and even the foundation of your home over time.
- Electrical Short Circuiting: Water and electronics do not mix, so any electrical fittings or personal items near the leaking air conditioner can be damaged.
- Promote Mould Growth: Damp areas can become breeding grounds for mould and mildew, posing health risks and potential damage to your belongings.
- Lead to Illness: Building up of mould and bacteria is linked to a range of short and long-term negative health outcomes.
If you do find yourself having to deal with a dripping air conditioner, here are two checks to consider:
- Inspect the Condensation Drain: The most common cause of aircon leaks is a blocked condensation drain. Check to ensure it’s clear of any obstructions, such as dirt, debris, or even algae growth. Gently cleaning it out might solve your problem. However, this is best left to the professionals in the majority of cases.
- Check the AC Pan and Pump: The pan that collects the condensation can rust or get damaged over time, resulting in leaks. Similarly, if you have a condensate pump installed, ensure it’s working properly. Again, if you find this issue then it’s usually best to call in the experts.
If these steps don’t resolve the issue or if you’re unsure about the source of the leak, it’s best to call in a pro. An air conditioning service technician will be able to diagnose the problem accurately and recommend the best course of action. Remember, while a small puddle might seem benign, addressing it promptly can save you from bigger headaches in the future.
Sign 6: Humid Even With Air Conditioner Running
Stepping into a cool, dry home on a sweltering day is one of the joys of modern day living. But what if your refuge feels more like a tropical rainforest than a refreshing oasis, even with the air conditioner running? This is an often-unassuming sign that your air conditioner needs service.
Regulating the humidity levels indoors is one of the key roles of an air conditioner, apart from cooling the air. By maintaining the right humidity level, an AC ensures a comfortable living environment and protects your home from issues like mould growth or excess dampness. This is critical in regions like South-East Queensland, where humidity is typically over 50%.
There are a few common reasons why an air conditioner might not work as designed with humidity:
- Size Matters: If your air conditioner is too big for the space it’s cooling, it might cool the room quickly but not run long enough to extract moisture effectively. On the flip side, an undersized AC system might not have the capacity to handle the humidity levels.
- Technical Issues: Issues with components like the heat exchanger evaporator coil or compressor can impact the ability of airconditioning to regulate humidity.
- Age of the Unit: Older units might not be as efficient in moisture removal as newer equivalent models. In addition, AC compressors lose efficiency over time.
A home or workplace that’s too humid can feel warmer than it actually is, generally leading to discomfort. High indoor humidity can also lead to other issues like mould growth, dust mites, and damage to property, furniture, and electronics.
If you find yourself in this sticky situation, fortunately there are things you can do:
- Check the Controller: Modern AC controllers or thermostats often have a ‘humidity’ or ‘dehumidify’ setting. Ensure the controller is set correctly and functioning as it should be.
- Regular Maintenance: Checking filters and ensuring heat exchange coils are clean can improve the efficiency of your air conditioner. Sometimes a humidity issue can be resolved by simply completing an aircon service.
If you’ve tried these steps and you still feel like you’re in the middle of a jungle inside, it might be time to call for professional help. Looking up an air conditioning repair service near me will help you find someone who can not only service but also repair your AC if needed. They can assess your system, service the aircon, recommend repairs, and even advise if a replacement or supplementary dehumidifier is required. Hopefully a standard air conditioner service is all that is needed, but good to be prepared!
Sign 7: Air Conditioner Short Cycling
There’s something reassuring about the predictable rhythm of an air conditioner at work. Cycling in and out, keeping our climate just right. But what if your AC seems to be dancing to a faster, more erratic tune? If it’s turning on and off too quickly, you might be witnessing what’s called “short cycling.”
Air conditioners have regular cycles where they run, reach the set temperature, and then rest for a while before starting again. However, if your AC is starting up and shutting down more frequently than it should, it’s a clear sign that an air conditioning service and possibly repairs are required.
There are a few common issues that could be causing the short cycling air conditioner:
- Faulty Controller: Sometimes the issue isn’t with the AC units but rather with the controller or thermostat. If the temperature-reading point is not reading the room’s temperature correctly it can cause the air conditioner to turn off prematurely.
- Oversized Unit: If your aircon is too big for the area served, it might cool the room rapidly and then shut off, only to restart a short while later because the temperature rises quickly. It’s a classic case of a unit that’s too powerful for its own good.
Short cycling isn’t just annoying; it’s very costly. It causes AC equipment to wear out faster than it normally would and increase energy consumption, leading to higher power bills. Preventing this is just one of the many ways to help extend the life you’re your air conditioner.
If you’re feeling a bit hot under the collar about this issue, keep cool and check these:
- Thermostat Check: Ensure your thermostat or controller (if that’s where temperature is being read from) is placed away from heat sources like lamps or direct sunlight. It’s also recommended to replace the batteries and check that it’s functioning correctly.
- Filter Check: A dirty or blocked filter can restrict airflow, as discussed previously, causing the air conditioner to overheat and shut down. Routine inspection, cleaning, and/or replacement of filters helps ensure smooth AC operation.
If your air conditioner continues its rapid on-off routine after these checks, it would be wise to seek out professional advice. An expert can diagnose the underlying issue/s, complete an AC service, and suggest aircon repairs if needed. Subsequent repairs may be in the form of recalibration, replacement of parts, or even considering a unit that’s better sized for the area served.
The Importance of Air Conditioning Service
Like many other household appliances, your air conditioner needs service, attention, and care. Waiting for a complete breakdown before seeking an air conditioning repair service isn’t just inconvenient—it can also be costly in the short and long run. This cost isn’t just limited to the aircon, but also applies to your health and the condition of your property.
Being proactive with air conditioning maintenance is an investment that really pays off. Regular check-ups and aircon servicing can significantly prolong the life of your AC system and ensure it runs efficiently for as long as possible. This translates into reduced energy bills and helping avoid unexpected repair costs and premature replacement. The importance of air conditioning service cannot be overstated.
In this article, we’ve highlighted some key signs that your air conditioner might be crying out for some TLC: weak airflow, not cooling even while running, unusual noises, odd odours, leaks, unregulated humidity, and short cycling. These aren’t just quirks; they’re clear indicators that something’s wrong and the air conditioning needs service and attention.
For the comfort of your home and the longevity of your AC equipment, it’s essential to prioritise the health and efficiency of your air conditioner. Don’t ignore these signs; they’re your aircon’s way of communicating with you. It’s wise to pay attention to the signs of an air conditioner service being required, for the health of you, your family, your workplace, your property, your belongings, and the AC equipment itself.
Are you ready to ensure your home or workplace stays the perfect temperature all year round? Schedule an air conditioning maintenance check-up with a reputable HVAC professional. Don’t delay – Book your air conditioner service appointment online today.
Not only will a professional HVAC service technician pinpoint and rectify any current issues, but they’ll also help to prevent future ones. Remember, there’s an unmatched peace of mind that comes with knowing your air conditioning system is in its best shape. Ensure the AC is ready to serve you on the hottest days and the most humid nights. Keep cool and take action today!