Common Problems with Air Conditioning Systems
April 30, 2020
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Any machine that has mechanical and electrical components runs the risk of going wrong from time to time. With an air conditioning unit you will likely feel the effects of any problems before you realize that something is malfunctioning, especially in mid-summer. If your air conditioning unit is acting up, you will need to call a professional to help you out. Occasionally the problem may be something quite simple, so check out our quick troubleshooting guide below, but remember – these machines are complex and subject to strict regulations, so if in doubt do not meddle!


Common Problems

Main Electrical Breaker 

Most air conditioning units will have a dedicated breaker on your electrical panel. The breaker should trip if there is an electrical fault in your air conditioning unit, but unexpected power surges and stormy weather can also cause a fuse to blow. If your air conditioning unit has stopped working, then check that the breaker has not tripped. If it has, switch it back to “On”. If anything doesn’t look right at this point, such as a spark, or resistance to the breaker switch being reset, then flip it to “Off” right away and call your technician – the trip was likely caused by an electrical problem in your unit and needs professional attention.

Wailing Noise

Your air conditioning unit works hard, especially when temperatures are high. All the internal motion can place strain on the mechanical components, and a quiet whirring can quickly escalate into a deafening wailing noise. This is often caused by the fan belt working loose. In some units this fault is easy to spot, and if you are handy you may be able to put it back in place yourself. If it has worked loose once it may easily do so again though, so take this as a sign that your unit needs some TLC from your Hank’s Plumbing technician soon.

Blocked Grills

Air conditioning units usually work by sucking hot air out of the house and replacing it with fresh air that has been cooled by passing through coolant-filled condenser fins. Air removed from the property carries dust and other particles that over time cling to the filters, causing a build-up of material that blocks the flow of air. At its worst, clogged filters can cause the condensing filters to freeze up or be clogged with debris from the main filter. This primary filter is easy to spot and clean. Doing this can temporarily solve the problem of inefficient functioning but is a red flag that your air conditioner is overdue for a more thorough internal scrub down.

When You Absolutely Need a Technician


Low Pressure

The coolant used in your air conditioning unit is pressurized, but can slowly escape from the unit over time, causing the system to lose pressure and become inefficient. Considered dangerous products that are harmful to the environment, coolants can only be handled by licensed operators such as the Hank’s Plumbing team. If your unit is fitted with a pressure gauge that indicates a pressure drip below the optimum 65-70 psi operating level, then it is time to pick up the phone.

Frozen Coils

These can be caused by any number of technical issues, and while switching your air conditioning unit off for a few hours will give them time to thaw, the underlying problem will not have gone away. Ice causes a blockage in the system that prevents air and coolant flowing effectively.

Leaking Water 

Your unit should be capable of draining off any condensation created in the cooling process. Occasionally the drain may become blocked, or the condensation pan becomes rusted. Overheating due to other problems can also cause the condenser seals to warp or even melt, allowing water to escape.

Other common problems that can only be accurately diagnosed by a professional include:

Problems with the Condenser Fan Motor

Short circuit connections or wires worked loose by vibration can cause the motor to stop working or burn out.  

Blocked Input Valve to the Thermostat

This causes false temperature readings and the unit to switch off prematurely, or overwork to cool an already chilly room.

Broken Thermostat 

Rendering the unit unresponsive.

Short Circuit to Ground 

Loose wires from vibrations and melds where wires have touched can happen over time and cause the unit to short-circuit. This will make the main breaker sit permanently at “Off”.

Burnt Out Condenser Fan

Will need replacing, it can cause the system to overheat.

Malfunctioning Contactor 

This electrical problem needs qualified attention.

How You Can Help

Being able to provide as much information to your Hank’s Plumbing technician will help us to diagnose and resolve your air conditioning problem more quickly. If your air conditioner is not working well, then pay attention to what it is and is not doing:

  • Is it over/under cooling?
  • Does it work intermittently?
  • Has it been making strange noises?
  • Are some parts working and others not – the fan and the compressor, for example?
  • Has your unit been leaking water – where from, and how much?


As a homeowner you just want your property to be comfortable. You will put your trust in the air conditioning technician from a team of professionals like Hank’s Plumbing to make sure that your installation meets all regulatory requirements. As a commercial owner, your obligations become a little more serious and you are expected to be able to demonstrate a higher degree of responsibility in this area. In a commercial or corporate environment, you may be responsible for the well-being of your workers, for example, and ensuring that not only does your system work, but falls in line with regulatory requirements is a must. All air conditioning units must by law meet minimum efficiency standards of performance. In choosing a professional company like Hank’s Plumbing for your air conditioning requirements you can rest secure in the knowledge that your existing products will be professionally maintained, and any new installations will meet all applicable regulations. At Hank’s Plumbing, we are proud of our reputation as a reliable and compliant company and we always share that high-quality approach.

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