When an air conditioner starts to fail, knowing what signs to look out for can help prevent problems from becoming worse, causing damage, or posing any threats to your health. Here are three signs that could indicate you need air conditioning repairs.
1. Constantly Tripping Breaker
If you use your air conditioner regularly, it's not unusual for the circuit breaker to eventually trip once or twice. If your air conditioner's breaker trips constantly, however, this is a sign that there's a problem somewhere in your system that needs immediate attention.
There are a few things that could cause a breaker to trip repeatedly.
- The circuit could be overloaded. Typically, air conditioners are installed on dedicated circuits, but if yours isn't, and it shares a circuit with other appliances, this could trigger the trip.
- The circuit itself could be damaged. If the circuit is shorted, or if there is a ground fault, the breaker could be tripping in order to prevent any electrical damage to your home.
- One of your air conditioner's components could be failing and/or using too much power. This can have the same effect as overloading a circuit and will need to be fixed.
Regardless of what's actually causing the problem, your air conditioner will need to be inspected as soon as possible. For safety purposes, it's also a good idea to avoid using your air conditioner until it has been inspected.
2. Loud or Unusual Sounds
Because of all the moving parts and ductwork in an air conditioning system, you can expect to hear some noise whenever it's running. If you start hearing loud sounds, or sounds you haven't heard before, this can also indicate a problem.
One example is a buzzing or humming sound, which will usually come from your outdoor unit. This can happen whether or not the fan is currently running, and will usually mean there's something wrong with either your fuses, your capacitors, or both. The humming is typically a sign that your air conditioner is receiving power, but that the part responsible for using or transferring this power isn't working correctly.
Another sound you might hear is a banging or screeching sound. This most often happens in your outdoor unit or in your ducts. Hearing these sounds from your outdoor unit could point to a problem with your fan motor or the compressor. If you hear it in your system of ducts, your ductwork may need to be examined to make sure the dampers are positioned properly and that everything is sealed correctly. Your blower motor may also need investigating, or one of the belts replaced.
Because of the potential for mechanical problems to worsen if left unfixed, have a technician inspect your air conditioner to see what could be making these sounds.
3. Foul Odors
Your air conditioner pulls air from inside your house before cooling it and sending it back through the ducts, so you shouldn't smell anything coming from your vents that isn't already in your house. If you do, and especially if it smells foul, there could be a functional problem, pest, or mold problem that needs to be taken care of.
Smells like dirty socks, exhaust fumes, or something burning can point to a functional problem. Specifically, if there is sitting water due to a clogged condensate drain, a shorted circuit board or motor, or leaking fluids, you may detect one of these odors whenever your air conditioner is running.
If something smells like spoiled or rotten eggs, an animal may have found its way into your ducts and then died. While this isn't a functional problem, it can quickly pose a health hazard and may necessitate having your ducts cleaned.
Finally, musty odors could come from mold in or near your ducts. This too can be a health hazard, and continued use of your air conditioner before this problem is fixed could spread mold spores.