Summer is almost here in Haverhill, and finding out your air conditioner isn’t working when it starts to get hot is the worst.

It’s easy to tell if your air conditioner needs repairs, but many homeowners misinterpret the signs of an air conditioning problem for what they think are normal signs that their air conditioner is getting back up to speed after months of less use.

Understanding the signs of an air conditioner that needs repair will allow you to have your air conditioner repaired before things get worse. Most air conditioner repairs are quite simple, but homeowners frequently avoid calling a technician as they fear a large bill. Often the repairs needed cost much less than the bill would cost after a problem has compounded and needs a larger repair. If your AC unit is new, the repair may even be covered under a manufacturer’s warranty. Timely repairs will help your AC run at peak efficiency and save you money.

One of the most common air conditioning problems is improper operation. If your air conditioner is on, be sure to close your home’s windows and outside doors. For room air conditioners, isolate the room or a group of connected rooms as much as possible from the rest of your home.

But if your AC won’t run, there’s obviously a problem. Here are some common symptoms that your air conditioner needs repair to help you take action before your AC breaks down:

1. The Air Isn’t Cold

It might feel like your unit isn’t doing its job the way it should. Even at full blast, the air just doesn’t feel cold.

Low refrigerant (such as Freon) is a common reason for a lack of cold air from your air conditioner. A trained technician can check your refrigerant levels and test for any leaks in the system. Your air conditioner’s performance and efficiency are greatest when the refrigerant charge exactly matches the manufacturer’s specification (Refrigerant leaks can also be harmful to the environment).

If your refrigerant level is fine, the lack of cold air could be a sign of a bigger problem. It could mean your system’s compressor has failed. Replacing the compressor is a major repair and you may even have to replace your unit. Make sure a technician eliminates other possible problems before deciding to replace your AC.

2. The Airflow is Weak

Your air conditioning ducts are the paths by which air moves through your house. Over time, dust and debris can accumulate inside them. This can obstruct airflow and, even worse, create a health risk to you and your family. Regularly check and change your air filter and clean your ducts to keep airflow moving and ensure your AC is working well when you need it most. Note that if you find rooms in your home are getting cold air while others are not, you might need repairs to your ductwork beyond a cleaning

Weak airflow can also be a sign of a failing compressor, so be sure to call in a professional if you’re still having problems even with clean air filters and properly maintained ductwork.

3. Your Sensors and Thermostat Are Inaccurate

Even when your air conditioning unit and ductwork are in great condition, you many still have problems with the temperature in your home. In this case, the trouble might be with your thermostat. One sign of a thermostat problem is uneven temperatures throughout your home.

One place that can be the cause of the problem on a room air conditioner is the thermostat sensor. Located behind the control panel, the thermostat sensor measures the temperature of air coming into the evaporative coil. If the sensor is not functioning properly, or has been knocked out of place, the air conditioner could cycle constantly or behave erratically.

Adjusting the sensor to its proper location (near the coil, but not touching it) can be done by carefully bending the wire that holds it in place.

4. Drainage Problems and Moisture

Moisture around your AC unit is a sign of two possible problems:

  • A refrigerant leak. This is a severe problem, as refrigerant chemicals can pose serious health risks to you and your family. A refrigerant leak needs to be repaired immediately.
  • Pooling water and humidity. Water pooling around your air conditioner may mean the condensation drain tube is blocked or broken, or that the air conditioner is not mounted level. This problem isn’t as serious as a refrigerant leak, but should be repaired quickly to avoid more problems like mold growth.

5. Something Sounds Wrong

Air conditioner compressor and fan controls can wear out, especially when the air conditioner turns on and off frequently. If you hear a squealing, grating or grinding sound, it could mean these controls need immediate maintenance and are close to failure.

These sounds could also point to problems with electrical connections and contacts, as corroding wires and terminals cause problems in many systems

A squealing noise can indicate that a belt has slipped out of place or that a metal component in your air conditioner requires more lubrication. A grinding sound could mean your motor’s bearings are broken.

6. Something Smells Wrong

Just as an out-of-place sound can mean a problem with your air conditioner, a variety of different smells can also mean repairs are necessary. Here are some smells that indicate problems with your air conditioning unit:

  • A sweet or ether-like odor: This could mean a refrigerant leak. Most forms of Freon are colorless and odorless, but some forms of Freon and other refrigerants have a sweet, ether-like odor.
  • Ozone or electrical smell: This could mean a problem with the air conditioner’s motor or wiring, suggesting your conditioner’s wire insulation has burned out.
  • Musty smell: The most common smell found with air conditioners, this means that there is mold inside your unit or ductwork, which must be taken care of immediately.

If your air conditioner is showing any of these six signs, it’s not functioning as it should and may need professional service. Professional air conditioning diagnostic service, like the kind offered by the pros at Andrew DiPietro’s ClimateZone, should include the following:

  • Visual inspection of all A/C components
  • Full system performance test
  • State of charge and system control tests
  • Leak test, using an approved-leak detector
  • Dye detection test (if a slow leak is difficult to detect)

Scheduling an air conditioning repair to ensure your AC system is working at maximum efficiency is always a good idea when facing the hot final weeks of summer.

Andrew DiPietro’s Climate Zone team is here to make sure you are as comfortable as possible in your home. If you have any questions regarding air conditioning repair, installation, service plans or any number of other related items, pick up the phone and give us a call at 978-872-1190 or set up an appointment with us online.