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6 Causes of Air Conditioner Problems

Air conditioning is a must if you live in Siouxland, and having your AC bite the dust on a 90 degree day can be downright unbearable. Repairs can be costly, and replacement even more so. So what causes an air conditioner to break down? Our list of the most common reasons for air conditioner issues (by the way, many of these apply to any HVAC issue!) can help you identify and possibly fix the problem, or prevent the problem from occurring in the first place.

Our list can be categorized into two basic types of air conditioning problems and underlying causes:

AC PROBLEMS: Normal Wear & Tear

These air conditioning problems can usually be avoided with some basic maintenance and care.

Inadequate HVAC Maintenance

HVAC technician, Jose, is pictured addressing an air conditioning problem during a routine spring hvac maintenance

If you can’t remember the last time you changed your filter and the words “annual maintenance” or “spring checkup” when applied to your air conditioner mean absolutely nothing to you, your AC could be on its way to a break down. The best thing you can do for your air conditioner is to have annual maintenance performed by an HVAC professional. During this time, the HVAC technician will able to identify minor problems before they become major repair expenses.

Our Comfort & Convenience Maintenance Plan is designed to give homeowners a convenient way to stay – you guessed it – comfortable all summer long.

Dirty Air Filter

photo shows that a dirty furnace filter is brown and full of dust, next to a new furnace filter that is white and clean

Your air filter (often referred to by the misnomer “furnace filter”) is used all year round. Air is being pushed through it all of the time, so even when you aren’t running the air conditioning or have the heat on, it is collecting dirt, dust and debris in your air.

If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times – be sure to change your filter regularly. One of the most common reasons air conditioners don’t work properly is a dirty or clogged filter. Follow your manufacturers instructions on how often to change it. A good rule to follow if you have a reusable filter is if light cannot pass through it, it’s time to clean it. Dirty filters can cause air flow restriction and there’s a possibility that your AC will freeze. This basic task can ease some of the normal wear and tear on your system.


These air conditioning problems are due to mechanical failure and need to be handled by one of our HVAC Pros.

Refrigerant Leaks

If you’ve ever talked about air conditioning problems, the words “refrigerant” or “charge your AC” have probably come up. So what does it mean to charge your air conditioner with refrigerant? Refrigerant is a liquid that is contained within the coils of your HVAC system and makes air conditioning possible. If your AC is low on refrigerant, your unit can’t do its job and will product air that isn’t very cold. When an air conditioning unit develops a leak, it isn’t a DIY fix, as it’s rooted in a mechanical breakdown problem. If your AC leaks refrigerant, you may be tempted to add some; we strongly advise against this. A trained HVAC technician will need to fix a refrigerant leak and charge your system with the right amount of refrigerant. An undercharged or overcharged air conditioner will not operate near as efficiently as one that is charged to the manufacturer’s exact specifications.

Electrical Control Failure

Modern heating and cooling systems rely on a complex electrical control system – if those controls are misconfigured, they may fail or malfunction, leading to air conditioner problems. HVAC oversizing can cause the compressor and fan controls to wear out. If your AC turns on and off frequently, this can be a sign of oversizing. As with any electrical problem, this is not a DIY fix. Give us a call and one of our HVAC technicians will thoroughly check the wires and terminals for possible corrosion along with electrical connections and contacts.

Thermostat Malfunctions

If you’re air conditioner problem is that it just isn’t functioning, it’s easy to assume that it’s a problem with your HVAC system. You may be surprised that the problem could lie within your thermostat. When your thermostat is on the fritz, intermittent temperature fluctuations are common and your family’s comfort is bound to suffer. The good news is that one of our HVAC pros can very quickly identify this and the fix is generally much less expensive than an issue with your Air Conditioning unit. It could be as simple as a loose wire; or maybe you should take this time to update to a Smart Home thermostat, which can save you loads of money with a number of built in efficiency measures.

Drainage Issues

Drain problems probably aren’t the first thing you think of when you’re looking for the cause of an air conditioning problem, but this is a frequent offender. As the summer heats up, it’s not a bad idea to check your AC’s condensate drain. Odds are, you have nothing to worry about if your air conditioner is functioning properly. If you do encounter drainage issues and excess condensation, it could lead to some serious moisture issues. If you notice mildew or mold growth, an increase of humidity in your home, or water around your AC, get ahold of us ASAP so that one of our experienced HVAC technicians can identify the problem and promptly fix it.

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