Troubleshooting AC: Common Problems and Solutions

AC troubleshooting in Tampa

Many households need air conditioning (AC), especially in summer. However, like any other appliance, AC units may encounter problems from time to time. 

Air conditioning removes heat and moisture from indoor air and expels it outside. Compressors, evaporator coils, condenser coils, and refrigerants are used in cooling. Any malfunction or issue with these components can result in AC problems. Troubleshooting AC units requires knowledge of the common problems and their solutions.

To help you troubleshoot and maintain your AC, we’ll discuss common issues and their solutions.

Common AC Problems and Troubleshooting Steps

Is your AC not cooling your space as it should? This problem is especially bothersome in summer. Troubleshoot it:

Thermostat check: Check the thermostat’s temperature and operation. Simple misconfigurations can cause issues.

Clean or replace the air filter: A clogged air filter can obstruct airflow, causing insufficient cooling. Clean or replace the filter if it’s dirty or damaged.

Inspect the condenser unit: The condenser unit, located outside, might be covered in dirt or debris. Clear any obstructions and clean the unit to optimize its performance.

Evaluate the refrigerant level: Inadequate refrigerant can affect cooling efficiency. Consult a professional technician to check and refill the refrigerant if necessary.

AC not turning on

The thermostat or power supply may be causing your AC unit to fail. Make sure the thermostat is set to cool and the desired temperature. Check if the thermostat works. Plug in the unit and check the circuit breaker. If the problem persists, contact a professional technician.

Poor cooling performance

Poor cooling performance is a common AC problem and can be caused by several factors. Check the air filter and clean or replace it if necessary. Dirty air filters can restrict airflow and reduce cooling efficiency. Another possible cause is a dirty condenser coil. Clean the condenser coil with a soft brush or hire a professional to do it for you.

Additionally, check for leaks in the ductwork, which can reduce cooling performance.

AC poor cooling performance

Uneven cooling

The AC may be malfunctioning if some rooms are cooler than others. Dirty air filters, blocked airflow, and broken thermostats can cause uneven cooling. Check the air filter and clean or replace it if necessary. Ensure that the vents are not blocked by furniture or other objects.

Strange noises

Strange noises coming from your AC unit can be a sign of a problem. The type of noise can indicate the cause of the issue.

For example, a rattling sound could mean loose parts, while a screeching noise could indicate a malfunctioning fan motor.

If you hear strange noises, turn off the unit and contact a professional technician to inspect and fix the issue.

Foul smell

A foul smell coming from your AC unit could be caused by a dirty air filter or stagnant water in the drip pan. Check the air filter and clean or replace it if necessary. If the smell persists, clean the drip pan and the condensate drain line. 

Water leaks

Water leaks from your AC unit can be caused by a clogged condensate drain line or a malfunctioning condensate pump. Check the drain line and ensure that it is not clogged. 

If the drain line is clear, the problem could be with the condensate pump. Contact a professional technician to inspect and fix the issue. They will be able to identify the cause of the leak and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.

Frozen coils

If you notice that your AC unit’s evaporator coils are covered in ice or frost, it indicates a problem. Frozen coils can be caused by restricted airflow, low refrigerant levels, or a malfunctioning blower motor. Check the air filter and clean or replace it if needed. Ensure that the vents are not blocked and the return air registers are open.

AC unit cycles on and off frequently

An AC unit that frequently cycles on and off may have a faulty thermostat, a dirty air filter, or an issue with the compressor. Check the thermostat settings and ensure they are accurate. Clean or replace the air filter if it is dirty.

If the problem persists, it could be a more complex issue that requires the expertise of a professional AC technician to diagnose and resolve.

Electrical problems

Electrical issues can cause various AC problems, such as the unit not turning on, flickering lights when the AC is running, or tripped circuit breakers. Check the power supply and make sure the unit is properly connected. Inspect the circuit breakers and reset them if necessary.

Electrical problems of AC system

Thermostat issues

A malfunctioning thermostat can lead to temperature inconsistencies or an AC unit that doesn’t respond to adjustments. Check the thermostat’s batteries and replace them if needed. If the problem persists, recalibrate or replace the thermostat.

Blocked airflow

Blocked airflow can hinder your AC unit’s performance and cooling efficiency. Ensure that there are no obstructions around the air vents or return air registers. Move furniture or objects that may be blocking the airflow.

Additionally, clean the vents and registers regularly to prevent the buildup of dust and debris. This will help maintain optimal airflow and enhance the overall cooling experience.

Dirty condenser coils

Dirty condenser coils can affect the heat exchange process, leading to poor cooling performance. To clean the condenser coils, first, turn off the AC unit and disconnect the power supply. Gently remove any debris or dirt from the coils using a soft brush or a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment. If the coils are heavily soiled, it is recommended to hire a professional technician to perform a thorough cleaning.

Low refrigerant levels

Low refrigerant levels can result in inadequate cooling and may indicate a leak in the system. If you suspect low refrigerant levels, it is essential to contact a professional technician. They will be able to inspect the AC unit, detect any leaks, repair them, and recharge the refrigerant to the appropriate levels. It’s crucial to address refrigerant leaks promptly to ensure the efficient operation of your AC system.

How often should I replace the air filter in my AC unit?

Air filters should be replaced every 30-90 days, depending on type and usage. If you have pets or allergies, more frequent filter replacements may be necessary.

Can I troubleshoot my AC unit if I have limited technical knowledge?

You can check the thermostat and air filter, but leave complex issues to professionals. They have the knowledge and tools to accurately diagnose and repair AC problems, ensuring your safety and preventing further damage to the unit.


Troubleshooting common AC problems can save you from discomfort and costly repairs. 

By addressing issues promptly and performing regular maintenance, you can extend the lifespan of your AC unit and ensure optimal cooling performance. However, if you encounter complex or persistent problems, it is recommended to seek professional assistance

A qualified technician can accurately diagnose and resolve the issues, keeping your AC system running smoothly for years to come.


It is recommended to schedule professional maintenance for your AC system at least once a year. Regular maintenance can help identify and address potential issues before they turn into major problems, improving the efficiency and longevity of your AC unit.

A musty smell from your AC unit can be a sign of mold or mildew growth. This can occur due to excessive moisture or a dirty condensate drain line. It's important to address this issue promptly to prevent further mold growth and potential health problems. Contact a professional technician to clean the unit and eliminate the source of the odor.

To improve energy efficiency, you can take several steps, such as keeping your home well insulated, sealing air leaks, using programmable thermostats, and regularly maintaining your AC unit. Additionally, consider using ceiling fans and shading windows to reduce the load on your AC system.

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Momentum AC Services Inc is a family-owned HVAC company in the Tampa area. We offer fast installation of all major brands of air conditioning units with no hidden costs or surprises. Momentum AC will work hard to make sure your new unit is installed on time and that it runs smoothly for years to come. 

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