air conditioner issues

How to fix common issues in Air Conditioners

Air conditioning is maintaining indoor air temperature and relative humidity for better comfort. Today, we dig deep on the common issues that these air conditioners experience.

Air conditioner act as a temperature regulator, as it attracts warm air inside a room and pushes it to the outside while filling the inside with cooler air. But as simple as it may sound, every appliance has its share of problems. As for air conditioners, there are some commonplace issues. Here, we discuss the reasons for these air conditioner issues and how to fix them.

In Sri Lankan context, these are mostly used in offices located in highly populated areas. Some houses and apartments are also equipped with air conditioning units according to their climatic conditions. But this type of ventilation is more expensive than regular fan ventilation and is more effective. Good air conditioning systems should be efficient regardless of the climatic conditions of the outside environment. General air conditioning controls temperature, movement, quality and humidity of the air.

An air conditioned Office (

Let us go through some of the most commonly seen air conditioner issues.

  • Unusual vibrations in the unit
  • Lower refrigerant level
  • Clogged air filters
  • Damaged air ducts
  • Clogged water drains
  • Component failures (Evaporator, Condenser, Blowers, Thermostat)

Unusual Vibrations

Usually the air conditioners make noises which includes the compressor cycling sound and the whir sound of the fan. But if the AC makes a sound other than this, or vibrates in an unusual way, this means the installation has gone wrong. Thus, it is better to make sure the appliance sits securely in a fixed place for the protection of the air conditioner, and also for the protection of the ones using it.

Low Refrigerant Level

Installing Air Conditioner (

The gas/liquid in the air conditioner which reduces the humidity and the heat inside the room is called the refrigerant. If this refrigerant is leaking out, the effectiveness of cooling will reduce. But refilling the refrigerant won’t solve this problem. A technician should find the leaks and repair the holes in order to make the air conditioner work perfectly. This can be a costly and a time-consuming repair, depending on the service provider.

Unclean Air Filters

Out of all air conditioner issues, a clogged filter is the most common problem faced by users. This decreases the air flow through the machine, which reduces the ability to cool the air. The filter must be checked regularly. If we neglect the periodical checkups, dirt and dust will get accumulated in the filter. It leads to lower air quality, and sometimes affects the durability of the machine. The filter’s lifetime is usually from six to twelve months. This varies according to the climatic conditions of the area.

Cleaning the AC unit (

Damaged Air Ducts

Duct network runs across the walls and ceilings to provide cooled air evenly to a space. But if these ducts consist of holes, blocks or damages, the cooled air will be unevenly distributed. It sometimes can affect a particular area for a long time. When this happens, it is not just going to affect the air quality but will affect the physical objects such as wall materials. It can even cause the air conditioner to work harder, piling up the energy bill.

Related article: Role of Ventilation in Designing Your Home

Clogged Water Drains

The moisture of the air collected from the air conditioner must pumped away to another place. Usually, a drain line is used for this job. But if this line gets clogged with time, drain line gets filled and water goes back to the system; causing damages. This water will also damage the walls and furnishings with long term exposure. Sometimes, mold growth can happen inside the drain. Therefore, it is better to get these lines checked and cleaned up using the correct procedures.

Common Issues in Air Conditioner Components

1. Evaporator Coil

Evaporator absorb the heat in the air, and helps to transfer the cold air through the ducts. These coils can get corroded with usage. They require warmer air around them to work properly. So, if the air flow is disturbed or changed the quality, these coils may start malfunctioning. A thick layer of ice builds up around the coil from outside, reducing the flow of cooler air. It can even eject warmer air from the air conditioner.

2. Condenser Coil

Condenser is the part which gets rid of the heat (collected from the indoor air) by pumping it to the outside. Again, the dirt and soot can get adhered to these coils impeding the heat transfer. So, the system gets unbalanced, causing failures.

3. Fan

There are two fans in an air conditioner. One fan blows air over the evaporator to cool the surrounding air. The other one blows air over the condenser to dump the absorbed heat. So, if one of these fans starts malfunctioning, it affects the air flow of the air conditioner. Reason for this can be a faulty motor, worn-out belts or lack of lubrication. This problem needs to be addressed in order to avoid compressor failures in the long run. Thus, proper checkups and maintenance should be carried out.

Air Conditioner Fans (

4. Thermostat

AC Thermostat (

This is like the screen of the air conditioner. Old air conditioners had the dial type thermostats. Thanks to the technology, we now have more precise thermostats. These can be controlled using smartphones or tablets if the remote controller isn’t working. Installing these systems can be tricky, as it can set up to an inaccurate calibration. Therefore, during the installation, make sure to consult the experts about calibrating it properly. Refer the user manual if you are doing it on your own, to have a satisfying comfort level easily.

Fixing Air Conditioner Issues: Conclusion

So generally, it can be concluded that surrounding climate, dirt and dust, pollution levels and other physical factors affect the functioning of air conditioners. It is up to us to be cautious about accurate installation of the appliances, and to carry out maintenance to avoid the malfunctioning of the air conditioners.

Maintenance of AC units (

Almost all these problems can be reduced by regular maintenance. Whenever you run into an issue beyond your understanding, be sure to consult an expert. That way, you won’t have to face a day where the temperature is at the highest and your air conditioner sits in the room doing nothing.

Did we miss any of the common issues that an air condition faces? Are you interested in buying an AC unit for your room? What are your concerns? Let us know in the comments.

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P. Ramawickrama
Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Moratuwa

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