How To Diagnose Air Conditioner Problems This Summer

How to diagnose air conditioner problems

Now that summer has arrived it’s time for your air conditioner to shine. It’s nice to take  refuge inside your air-conditioned home when a heatwave hits, but what if your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be working too well?

Knowing what you can fix yourself and when you need to get a specialist’s help is crucial if you want to get your unit back up and running quickly. So, let's take a look at how to diagnose air conditioner problems you can fix yourself, before you get support from an air conditioning specialist.

Air conditioner won’t turn on

Picking up your air conditioner remote, only to realise the unit is dead as a doornail is a harrowing experience. However, fear not. There can be many reasons why the unit isn’t turning on, and many of them can be remedied without calling out a repair agent.

Check your remote batteries

Your remote won’t necessarily lose its digital display because the batteries are going flat, so if your unit won’t turn on, give your remote a refresh by changing out your batteries.

Check your units main switch is turned on

Your air conditioner will have a main power switch (usually located next to the outdoor condenser unit) which controls its main power supply. Even if you don’t remember turning it off, it's worth the wander to ensure it’s in the on position.

Check your circuit breaker

A circuit breaker is designed to protect your air conditioner from surges in electricity which can happen during storms or when power is restored after an outage. Even if you don’t recall having a power outage since you last used your air conditioner, check that the circuit breaker for the air conditioner hasn’t been tripped.

To check this, open your electrical box and locate the circuit breaker for your air conditioner (it should be labelled ‘AC’). If it has been tripped (the switch is in the opposite direction to all others), try resetting it by flicking it back on, just like a light switch.

Air conditioner isn’t blowing out any air

If when you turn it on, there’s low or no airflow, there are several potential causes you need to check.

1. Check your outdoor condenser unit is running

If your unit is receiving power but not blowing any cool air out, it isn’t a bad idea to check that your outdoor condenser unit is running, so pop outside and listen for the hum. Even if your indoor unit isn’t pumping out cool air, you should still hear your outdoor condenser working away. If it’s making unusual, thumping, screeching or ratting sounds, you may have a damaged mechanical part which will require an air conditioning specialist to repair. An air conditioning specialist knows how to diagnose air conditioner problems efficiently and is licensed to repair them.

2. Adjust your thermostat

Adjusting your thermostat is the next step to fixing airflow issues. First check that the mode on your remote is set to cooling, then adjust the temperature you’re trying to achieve to be 5 to 10 degrees below the current inside temperature of your home. It’s important you don’t overload your circuit, so ensure you are going off inside temperature not outside when you adjust your desired temperature.

3. Clean your filters

Most air conditioners have removable filters that require cleaning. Over time, these filters become clogged with dust and grime, and this can prevent your unit from delivering an adequate airflow. If you have a ducted  air conditioning system, you probably won’t be able to access these, and will need  to book an air conditioning specialist to service your unit.

For all other air conditioners, you can generally locate the filters by opening the top panel of your indoor unit. Cleaning your filters is as easy as brushing down with a soft cloth and then running them under a tap (or hose) to remove any remaining dust. Leave your filters in a sunny spot to completely dry before you replace them in your unit.

Air conditioner is leaking water

It’s normal (and expected) that there will be some water dripping from your outdoor condenser unit when it’s in use, especially on those hotter or more humid days. You may also notice an increase in water leaking if the day started off on the cooler side, causing your pipes to frost up. If you are concerned about the level of water leaking from your outdoor condenser unit, there are a couple of things you can do.

Observe leaking as the day cools off

If you are concerned that your outdoor condenser unit is leaking too much water while your unit is running, observe the level of moisture leaking when the outside temperature cools. You should see a reduction of water as the day cools off and this indicates that your unit is likely doing what it needs to.

Turn the thermostat up

This sounds counterproductive, but turning the temperature up a degree or two can reduce the strain on your air conditioner and prevent some water leakage. However, depending on outside temperatures this may not be highly noticeable.

There are some scenarios where leaking water indicates a bigger problem than routine maintenance can fix:

  • If your indoor unit is leaking
  • When your outdoor condenser unit is leaking even when turned off

If your air conditioner is doing either of these things, it’s time to call an air conditioning specialist as it's likely to be a fault with one or more components in your unit.

Do you need parts or advice?

We understand how frustrating a faulty air conditioner is on those hot and humid days. If your troubleshooting has highlighted an issue such as filters or a remote that needs replacing, give our friendly team a call so we can  help you with  the right replacement air conditioner part.

If you need further advice on how to diagnose air conditioner problems, get in touch. We may be able to help by suggesting further troubleshooting steps, providing suitable replacement parts you can fit yourself, or recommending a local air conditioning specialist you can contact.

About Wayne Butterworth

Meet Wayne Butterworth, an expert in appliance spare parts and an informative blog writer. With in-depth knowledge and a dedication to helping others, Wayne’s blog provides practical tips and industry insights for appliance repair. Follow his blog for up-to-date information and expert advice.