Signs Of A Broken Air Conditioner (And What To Do About Them)

Five Common (And Sometimes Subtle) Signs Your AC Is Broken

An air conditioner doesn’t stop working as soon as it’s broken. Instead, a minor problem causes small issues that you may not notice right away. As things get worse, you’ll see more warning signs. Then, when the system breaks down for good, it’s usually on the hottest days of the year. That’s when it’s working its hardest and finally gives in.

That’s why we always warn people: Don’t wait for a small problem with your HVAC system to get worse! Instead, call for a repair right away.

Minor issues usually require fast, inexpensive repairs. More significant problems usually involve more damaged parts that cost much more to fix. But, how do you know when it’s time to call your HVAC technician?

Sometimes the signs of a problem with your air conditioning unit are subtle and easy to miss — until they get much worse, of course.

So, we’re going through the most common signs of a broken AC in this article. We’re highlighting ones you may overlook. And, we’ll let you know how to troubleshoot and possibly fix some problems yourself.

And, if it’s time to call for air conditioner repair in your Treasure Valley home or business, you can click below or call Snowflake Air at (208) 205-9078 for an appointment.

Five Common Signs Of A Broken AC

Here are the five most common signs of a broken air conditioner. You’ll notice these before a breakdown:

  1. Weak Airflow
  2. Weird Smells Or Strange Sounds
  3. Electricity Bill Shoots Up
  4. High Humidity
  5. AC Blows Warm Air

Related: Why Is My AC Running But Not Cooling?

Weak Airflow

Before your system starts working completely, it won’t work as well as it should. That often means it’s generating cool air but not circulating as much of it as usual.

Your problem could be as simple as a clogged air filter. After that, you may have a blower motor problem: Air gets in, but there’s not enough force to push it all back out.

Hot Spots

You’ll notice hot spots in the house when there’s weak airflow. There may even be pockets of warm air in a room that’s cool otherwise. This problem occurs when the cool air doesn’t circulate as far from the vents as it should.

Related: My Air Conditioner Won’t Turn On! (Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks)

If You Have A Bad Smell Coming From Your AC Or Vents It Could Be A Sign Of A Problem

Weird Smells Or Strange Sounds

Any new, particularly bad, smells or sounds from your HVAC system are cause for concern. They may be minor issues, but you’ll want to get them checked out before the problem gets worse.

Bad Air Conditioner Smells

Common AC smells include a sulfur, gunpowder, or burning smell indicating an electrical problem. A chemical smell outside could be a refrigerant leak, especially if you hear hissing from gas escaping.

Finally, a stale odor means there’s mold somewhere, and rotten eggs means an animal died

 in, on, or near your system. You may notice these smells with a heat pump, but they often indicate different problems than with forced-air systems.

Bad Air Conditioner Sounds

In general, banging, clanging, or heavy grinding sounds are signs of a problem. It’s anything from a fan or motor struggling to work. Or, a fan belt or other component came loose and is slapping or rattling around inside the unit.

Electricity Bill Shoots Up

If your electric bill suddenly goes way up, your AC may be to blame. Even if it’s still cooling your home, a problem can cause it to work harder than it should to keep up. Then, it’s using more electricity than expected — and you’re paying for it.

Related: How Efficient Is Ductless Heating And Cooling?

High Humidity

Your AC dehumidifies the air as it cools it. So, high humidity is a sign that something’s wrong. It could be anything from a mechanical problem to a circulation issue.

Or, there’s a clog in the condensate line. As water condenses, it should drain down the line. That line is usually a PVC pipe leading outside or a slop sink inside. If that line is clogged., water builds up and evaporates again.

AC Blows Warm Air

It’s common to get an initial blast of cold air from your furnace before you feel heat in the winter. But, you shouldn’t get warm air from your AC ever. If you do, something’s up: Air is passing through as it should, but it’s not cooling.

Troubleshoot A Broken Air Conditioner

You may be able to fix a small air conditioner problem on your own by following these easy, DIY troubleshooting tips:

  1. Check The Thermostat
  2. Check The Air Filter
  3. Inspect The Drain Line
  4. Inspect The Outdoor Unit

Check The Thermostat

A Dirty Air Filter Can Cause Clogs And Air Flow ProblemsStart by replacing the batteries in your thermostat. Then, make sure it’s at the temperature you want and set to “Cool” and “Auto.”

Check The Air Filter

You should change the air filter every month when your heat or AC runs. And every three months in between. Otherwise, it gets clogged and causes airflow issues. If the screen is gray and visibly dirty when you take it out, it’s been in there too long. 

Related: Air Filter 101

Inspect The Drain Line

Find the end of your drain line and shine a light in it. If you see anything blocking it, you may have found the cause of your problems. You can remove the clog if it’s close to the opening. If not, call a professional.

Inspect The Outdoor Unit

You want to look for signs of a refrigerant leak, dirt or buildup around the unit, or signs of animals. A chemical smell and hissing sound indicate a leak. Excess dirt and buildup inhibit airflow. And, animals nesting in or near the unit often chew through wires.

AC Tune-Ups And Preventative Maintenance

The best way to keep your AC functioning properly all summer is to get a tune-up and preventative maintenance. For much less than the cost of a repair, you can have a certified technician inspect and optimize your system in the spring.

It takes about an hour, and the process includes cleaning out the system and inspecting dozens of checkpoints. If there’s a small problem, your technician will fix it before it causes any cooling issues during the summer.

Air Conditioner Repair In Boise, ID

Snowflake Air is the trusted name for expert, reliable air conditioner repair in Boise Metro. We have hundreds of five-star Google Reviews thanks to our excellent service for homes and businesses in Boise, ID, Caldwell, Eagle, and Kuna. Click below or call (208) 205-9078.