Air conditioning systems are complex appliances that require regular servicing and maintenance to prevent them from breaking down. If your air con is not performing up to standard, your first instinct might be to call an expert. But before picking up the phone, take a look at these common air con faults—the problem may be simpler than you think!
Carrying out your own air con fault finding work, and being able to troubleshoot these faults, can save you time, money, and get your air con back up and running quickly.
Common Air Con Faults
It’s critical that air con units are serviced annually, but these simple problems can build up quickly, so regularly checking your air con for faults is the best way to keep it working all year round.
Some simple problem-solving tips include:
- The first thing to do is conduct a system reset, which fixes the problem the vast majority of the time. Complete the following steps to do so:
- Turn off the main power isolation switch, which is located next to the outdoor unit
- Wait for at least 10 minutes, while residual power drains from the system
- Turn the main power isolation switch back on, and test your air conditioner again. 9 times out of 10 this will fix the problem, however if the fault remains, contact a service professional
- The most important thing you can do is to check your filters regularly. Both ducted and split systems have filters, and during peak summer or winter months, when air con is constantly used, filters should be cleaned or replaced (depending on your system) every month or two. This avoids build-up of dust, hair and dirt, which, if left uncleaned, can end up pumping back out of the air conditioner, and into the air you breathe.2
- Keep the outdoor unit free from debris, such as plants and fallen leaves. If allowed to build up, this can affect the efficiency of the condenser coil and fan inside the unit, and heat won’t be expelled properly.3
- A power surge can cause the air con circuit breaker to trip. This is common after a thunderstorm, or if too many appliances are using power at the same time. Always check your circuit breaker if your air con system is not turning on. A simple switch might solve the problem.4
- Make sure your windows and doors are closed when your system is on. This stops heat or cool air from seeping out or in, and affecting the temperature.1
Air Con Fault Finding in Ducted Systems
Ducted air con systems have an indoor unit, an outdoor unit, ceiling vents and a wall-mounted controller. If your air con system is not heating or cooling the way it should be, the first thing to do is check the controls. Is the temperature at the right setting? While it sounds simple, there are a lot of reasons the temperature may be off. Similarly, with most ducted systems, you are able to control how much air is flowing out of certain vents, so if you feel your air con is weaker than usual, check the zone controls, and ensure the air flow is set to 100%.
If you’re questioning the cleanliness of the air coming out of your system, make sure that your vents themselves are clean (as well as checking your filters). Regardless of the style of vents you have, dust can collect on them, and then be blown back into the room by the air conditioner.
Air Con Fault Finding in Split Systems
Split systems have one or more wall-mounted units (the indoor unit), an outdoor unit, and a remote controller. There is also a power isolation switch (different from normal power points), usually located outside, and this is the first thing to check if your air con is not working properly. While it sounds obvious, it’s common for kids or pets to knock the plug out of place.5
Again, another big culprit for faults in split systems are dirty filters, which you should clean regularly to keep the unit in good working condition.
While these common air con faults can usually be easily fixed by yourself, safety is always the most important thing. If you feel unsafe or unsure of anything regarding your air con system, call a professional. They have the qualifications, knowledge and safety training to get your air con back up and running as soon as possible, without any risk to yourself or your system.
There’s certain components of an air conditioner that only a professional can help with, such as checking refrigerant levels, the electrical controls, the condensate drain, evaporator and condenser coils, and much more. Making sure you get your air con regularly serviced is the best way to avoid major problems with your system.
- Mary Farrell, 2020, 8 Air Conditioner Problems and How to Fix Them, Consumer Reports.
- 2018, Don’t Forget the Filters: The Key to an Energy Efficient Home, Daikin.
- Michael Rosone, 2019, Top 7 Causes of Air Conditioner Problems and How to Prevent Them, Arista Air.
- John White, 2019, Common Air Conditioning Problems You Should Know About, White Mechanical, Inc.
- Veronika Hleborodova, 2018, Why is My Air Conditioner Not Working?, Canstar Blue.
- Feature image by by Vladislav Nikonov on Unsplash