AC Troubleshooting: The Ultimate Homeowner’s Guide

There’s nothing more thrilling than getting the keys to your first house. You are officially a homeowner! You’ve been working towards this your whole life and now, you have a house to call your very own. It’s a thrilling moment, offset only by the realization that common issues with electrical appliances, your air conditioning system and the like are now your responsibility to handle.

Of course, the excitement wears off a bit when systems start malfunctioning in the home and you realize that fixing those issues is your responsibility. Suddenly, you are learning how to do things you never even imagined, like looking into the aspects of energy efficiency or tackling airflow issues. Occasionally, you find yourself biting off more than you can chew.

One of the systems that can experience problems is your Air Conditioning and Heating system. Understanding what can go wrong, whether it’s something as straightforward as a tripped circuit breaker or more complex like poor airflow – and whether or not you should attempt to fix it, is the distinction between being a do-it-yourselfer and a break-it-yourselfer.

We help Las Vegas residents with AC repair. No matter the number of issues at hand, don’t hesitate to ring us up!

Call Us (702) 567-0707.

HVAC Troubleshooting Overview

Thermostats, water heaters, ducts – oh my! All of these components contribute to the overall noise or silence of your air conditioning system.

Your home’s HVAC is an intricate system that can cause a variety of problems if it’s not working properly, including the less obvious ones like low energy efficiency due to the wrong choice of device. It can also cause a lot of anxiety when you don’t understand what’s causing the surge of electrical usage and the constant grinding noise.

  • Your AC Is Not Cooling
  • Long AC Running Times
  • Uneven Cooling: Hot & Cold Spots in the Home
  • Malfunctioning Thermostat
  • Poor Indoor Air Quality
  • High Energy Bills: Inefficient AC

6 Most Common Air Conditioner Problems & Solutions

Share this Infographic On Your Site (Copy & Paste)

When all systems are go, your home is a welcoming, comforting, respite from the stress of the outside world. However, when air conditioning problems strike, you may find yourself hot, sick, and paying too much money to keep your home comfortable and your family safe.

Air conditioner problems often materialise at the least desirable moments, like during extremely hot temperatures. Fortunately, there are some AC issues that you may be able to fix without calling in a professional.

1. AC Not Cooling

You come home in the dead heat of the summer months, eager to relax on the couch with a cool drink and the air conditioning blowing at full strength. There’s just one problem. Your home is just as hot as the street.

Signs of a Cooling Outage

There are a few signs you can look for that suggest you’re experiencing a cooling outage.

  • AC is not cooling at all – it appears to be running but there is no (or not enough) air being forced out.
  • AC is running, but not cooling – When there is air coming from your ducts, but it’s warm air.
  • AC won’t turn on – You’ve pushed all of the right buttons on your thermostat, but it refuses to kick on.
  • AC fan is not working – air is not being circulated
  • Loud noises – While few air conditioners are completely silent, if you hear a loud clanking like cast iron and concrete, something is wrong.
  • Unpleasant smells coming from the unit. While you’ll notice an odor within the first few minutes of turning the AC on for the season, that should go away quickly. If you notice a musty, melting, burning, or ozone smell, you’ll need to investigate.

The Reasons Your Air Conditioner is Not Cooling (and Solutions)

There are many possible causes of your air conditioning woes. Some of these are quick fixes, while others will require bringing in a professional.

1. The heat is on.

It seems silly, but it’s worth checking. Make sure the thermostat selector is on “cool” not “heat.” You may also have the fan set to “on” which forces the indoor blower to stay on.

2. The compressor and condenserare not receiving power.

However, the issue might lie in the electrical circuit. Locate the unit outside and make sure that the switch is on and sending power. If there’s no power, the system may stay on, but it won’t cool down your home. While you are looking at the unit, clear any debris such as twigs, leaves, and branches that may have settled around the unit.

3. Your refrigerant level is low.

When you have issues with your compressor or leaks in your system, your refrigerant levels may drop. This can cause low (or no) cool air output and may also cause icing on the condenser coils.In case you spot indications of these highlighted issues, you should promptly call a professional, preferably a knowledgeable HVAC technician, to effectively identify the problem and correct it. This step helps prevent miniscule issues from escalating into more expensive repairs.

4. The air filter is one of the key units of the HVAC system and it gets dirty.

Even though the HVAC models might continue emitting semi-cool air, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are running efficiently. When it comes to air filters, they are fairly easy to replace, therefore adding it to the list of DIY tasks is a suitable idea. However, before doing so, any arising questions should be well-researched or consulted with a HVAC technician to avoid preventable mishaps.

2. Long AC Running Times

In the seeming paradoxical scenario when the air conditioner doesn’t turn off instead of not turning on, you’re still dealing with a problem.

A constantly running air conditioner can signal issues with your HVAC system. The steps to avert a major malfunction, and potentially steep expenses, starts with promptly addressing the problem once initial signs are detected. They are:

  • The AC won’t turn off in house
  • The AC won’t turn off when it hits the set temperature
  • The air conditioner keeps running even after it’s been turned off
  • The AC is off but the fan keeps blowing

The Causes of a Constantly Running AC (and Solutions)

The perpetual running of your AC can be attributed to an array of problems:

1. The thermostat is broken or wrongly set.

Accidents happen, and one of them could result in the erroneous setting of the thermostat, leading to a constant demand for cool air. Just as with most electronic units, incorrectly setting the temperature – including setting it too low – can force the air conditioner to continuously run. To confirm this is the root cause, try resetting the thermostat to match the room temperature, which should subsequently trigger the system to turn off. If the problem persists, professional intervention may be necessary.

2. The Fan Limit Switch is set on “manual.”

The AC unit consists of a component known as the Fan Limit Switch. If it has been manually overridden, this could spur the fan to function independently. By switching it to “auto”, the fan operates based on the instructions given by the thermostat settings.

3. Clogged Air Filter

As previously mentioned, if an air filter gets too dirty, the system’s efficiency diminishes and may cause it to run continuously in an attempt to dehumidify the air. Dirty or clogged air filters can be changed as a DIY task.

4. Dirty Evaporator or Condenser Coil

In a scenario where the condenser or evaporator coil is cloaked in dirt and debris, the system will have to work harder to cool your home, potentially causing it to run continuously. This is not one of those DIY jobs — it requires calling a professional to service and clean the unit.

5. Frozen Evaporator Coil

Should your system constantly run and still blow warm air, you need to shut it down right away and get in touch with a professional. Anything less than prompt action could lead to severe damage to your system if the evaporator coil has frozen.

6. Leaky Ducts Allowing Cool Air to Leak Out

This happens often in older buildings where the insulation may be deteriorating or the duct joints are no longer sealed. A professional HVAC technician should be called to evaluate and remedy the issue.

7. Issues with the Blower Motor or Fan

When the blower motor is incapable of producing enough air for the system to run efficiently or when the fan operates at a low speed, it may cause the system to compensate by running constantly. Taking steps to adjust the fan speed might solve the issue, but if the fan blades are covered in grime and dirt, a professional cleaning is advised.

8. Not Enough Refrigerant

If there’s a deficiency of refrigerant in the system, the unit will struggle to cool the home efficiently and the system could continue running because it’s working harder to cool the place down.This may involve the need for a skilled technician to track and repair the leak, a task that could involve carefully examining wires and circuits to find the culprit.

3. Uneven Cooling: Hot & Cold Spots in the Home

When one room of your house is practically arctic while another is filled with sweltering heat, your air conditioner may not be working properly and may create differing temperatures depending on where you are in the home. This could be due to faulty wires or a circuit issue, affecting some appliances more than others, hence the varying temperatures.

Signs & Symptoms

If you suspect that your home is not cooling properly, be aware of the following potential signs. Tip: preparing a list of these signs can help the technician identify the problem faster.

  • Uneven air flow throughout the house
  • Rooms are not cooling equally – for example:
  • It’s cool in one room but hot in another
  • It’s hot upstairs but cold downstairs
  • The second floor of your home is hot in the summer and cold in the winter

Common Causes of Uneven Cooling & Heating in Your Home

Before you give up and accept that you’ll need to carry a parka with you while walking through your home, there is another possibility. The actual culprit maybe something as simple as a mold issue, or complicated as a tangled mesh of wires that needs to be fixed or replaced.

Once you uncover the root cause of the problem and address it, you and your family will be comfortably lounging no matter what room you’re in. Remember, following appropriate tips and suggestions can fast-track your way to a comfortable home.

1. Your attic isn’t insulated properly

To determine whether your attic is properly insulated, head upstairs and check for floor joists. A technician may also inspect the circuit wiring in the attic. If they are visible, your attic will need to be re-insulated to correct the problem. A product such as mold-resistant insulation might be suggested.

2. Your Soffit vents are blocked.

Soffit vents allow air to flow freely from the outside environment into the attic. These may be due to poor insulation but the real culprit may be blocked wires or molded vents and may be causing the upstairs to retain heat. Once the vents have been unblocked and the wires adjusted, air will flow freely and the temperature differences should subside.

3. Your air ducts are leaking.

When ducts leak, they can’t function properly which will cause heat buildup upstairs. The ducts will need to be inspected by a technician, corrected and replaced if necessary to remedy this situation. A careful look at the wires and circuitry around the ducts can also help in identifying the problem.

4. Your ductwork is poorly insulated.

Frequently made from thin sheet metal, ductwork is often not properly insulated and can lead to a 10%-30% loss of energy (according to US Department of Energy). An infrared duct inspection can help identify the issues so they can be fixed – a checklist might even be useful to tick off potential problems found during the inspection.

5. Your air conditioner is not the right size for your home.

If your HVAC unit is too small or too big, it can lead to inconsistent temperatures throughout your home. You may find that the humidity level of your home is challenging to control and that some areas will get more air than others. If this is the cause of your issues, you may need to reevaluate your system and purchase a new one based on your square footage and layout.

6. Malfunctioning Thermostat

Your air conditioning woes may be attributed to that little panel hanging on your wall. Once again, faulty wires or circuits could be the culprit, affecting the performance of appliances connected to it.

Signs and Symptoms of a Bad Home Thermostat

If you notice any of the following signs, you may have a malfunctioning thermostat:

  • The air conditioner refuses to turn on.
  • The air conditioner refuses to turn off, running constantly throughout the day and night.
  • There are different temperatures throughout your home.
  • The thermostat doesn’t change when you alter the settings.
  • The temperature is not correct.

Causes of a Malfunctioning Thermostat

If your home thermostat isn’t working properly it may be because:

1. Thermostat Placement

If your thermostat is in direct sunlight, too close to air vents, or not centralized in the home, you may experience challenges. If this is the case, move the thermostat to a hallway in the center of your home as far from sunlight and air vents as possible.

2. Your battery is dead or dying.

Sometimes, it’s that simple. Check your thermostat by:

  • Switch it to the “on” position and set it to “cool” or AC. If you have a programmable thermostat, check for any override programs that may be engaged.
  • Replace the batteries.
    Have someone stand near the furnace while you stay by the thermometer. The furnace should kick on the moment you switch it to “heat.”
  • Raise the thermostat until you hear a click. The other person should listen to the furnace. If it doesn’t make a sound, it’s likely not receiving a signal from the thermostat. Replace the thermostat.

While the cost will vary based on the type of thermostat, they are relatively inexpensive to replace. And don’t forget, sometimes the issue could be as simple as a missing wire or a mold infiltration around the thermostat.An analog thermostat will run around $10-$30. While this may be affordable, a digital thermostat serves as a better option, costing around $100. A digital thermostat optimizes energy usage, similar to how cycling optimizes your physical health.

4. Poor Indoor Air Quality

Your home is supposed to be your sanctuary, a safe place to escape the outdoor pollutants. But sometimes, they follow you inside, causing issues ranging from ac problems to poor ventilation, that require meticulous troubleshooting tips.

Signs Bad Indoor Air Quality

The following are signs that you might have issues with indoor air quality:

  • You are getting frequent respiratory illnesses
  • There’s an odor coming from air conditioner vents
  • You see an excessive amount of dust in the home.
  • Your home is more humid than normal

What Causes Poor Air Quality (and Solutions)

Identifying the cause of your air quality issue, whether it’s an issue with the breakers or a possible refrigerant leak, will help you correct it.

1. Poor Cleaning Within the Home

Not cleaning properly or frequently can cause a buildup of dust and debris, which can lead to condensation in your AC unit. Do two thorough cleanings each year including the draperies, fabric-covered furniture, and carpets. If you do clean your home regularly but notice that dust is accumulating more quickly, this may be a sign that something is wrong with your AC unit.

2. Chemical and Toxin Buildup

You may not realize what chemicals are in your home, but they can still affect you. There are certain plants such as garden mums and spider plants that help filter toxins out of the home, tackling a core ingredient of these AC problems.

3. Your air conditioning unit is inefficient.

Your HVAC system pushes air through filters which can sometimes trap debris which you then breathe in. Change your filter regularly to avoid this. If it’s still inefficient, it may be useful to run some troubleshooting tips to find whether there’s a refrigerant leak.

4. There is poor ventilation in the home.

While homeowners often like the comfort of turning on the AC to get fresh air, this doesn’t improve ventilation, it just re-circulates the air already in the home, causing it to become stagnant over time. In order to improve ventilation, open the windows and doors when the temperatures are bearable.

5. You have a furry family member.

Your lovable dog or cat may be contributing to the poor air quality in your home. To counteract the fur and dander make sure you bathe them regularly, clean up after them and if possible replace your carpets with hard floors.

6. High Energy Bills: Inefficient AC

You’ve likely budgeted for your utilities, but occasionally, you open the bill to a very unpleasant surprise.

Signs & Symptoms

If your electric bill is higher than expected, it may be due to an inefficient AC unit. Often times, technicians find that breakers may be the problem.

  • Bad installation
  • Lack of maintenance
  • An old system
  • Failing parts in the unit

Reasons Your AC Causes High Energy Bills (and Solutions)

If your AC is not functioning properly, check the following:

1. Is the air filter clean?

These should be replaced every few months to keep the air clean and the unit efficient.

2. Are any of the parts old or failing?

If a part is not working properly, the system won’t work properly. Replacing this part should help ramp up your system’s efficiency.

3. Is your refrigerant low?

Your system won’t be able to remove heat well so it will have to work harder (increasing your energy bills). A professional can determine if there is a refrigerant leak and bring your levels up.

4. Is your home properly insulated?

This could be leading to poor energy efficiency, resulting in higher electrical bills.

If air is escaping (or unwanted air is entering), the system will have to work harder to reach the desired temperature. Check for proper insulation and improve if necessary.

Maintaining Your Air Conditioner

As with any system in your home, vehicle, or personal health, preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid costly repairs.

Share this Infographic On Your Site (Copy & Paste)

Here are some ways to keep your ac unit functioning at its best:

  • Keep it clean and free of debris – this includes the unit itself as well as filters, ducts, and evaporator coils.
  • Avoid placing the unit in direct sunlight so it stays cool
  • Purchase a programmable thermostat to keep the temperature consistent without overtaxing your system.
  • Change the batteries on a regular basis.
  • Adjust the thermostat settings when you go on vacation or will be out of the house for long periods of time.
  • Review the wiring for any signs of damage.
  • Bring in a professional to do regular checkups and maintenance, ensuring that your system is in working order.


While it’s true that many air conditioning problems can be troubleshot by the homeowners, if you don’t know what you are doing, or take on a project that’s beyond your ability, you may find yourself sweating from the heat… and the repair bills. When in doubt, the best solution is to contact a professional. They can diagnose your ac issues and determine the most effective and cost-efficient way to correct them. By hiring a professional to do regular maintenance, you lessen the chances of something going wrong and increase the likelihood that you and your family will have a happy, healthy, and comfortable summer!