Troubleshooting Central Air Conditioning Problems

Though a central air conditioning unit can be a greatly convenient addition to your home, it can be equally frustrating when it fails to work as it should. With a little investigation and by following a few steps, you will be able to pinpoint and rectify the cause of almost any problem.

Lack of Cool Air

If your AC unit runs but emits less cool air than it once did, you may have to clean it to make it work. If you have retained the original instruction manual, use this to determine whether it recommends the best way to undertake the cleaning process.

After turning off the power supply, remove any debris from the protective grill of the outdoor condenser before unscrewing it. You will then be in a position to use a soft bristle brush to clean the fins beneath and, if the dirt is extensive enough, carefully use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to clean the fins.


The many components that make up a central air conditioning unit mean that there are various noises that can result from several causes. Besides attempting to locate where the noise is coming from, take the type of sound into account. This is due to the fact that a rattle will highlight a different problem to a squeak. Older types of air conditioner are often be powered by a belt-driven motor which can result in high-pitched squeals if the mechanism has dislodged or become worn. In this event, the unit will need to be switched off and dismantled to enable the relevant components to be replaced.

Rattling noises will often be caused by the metal components such as air ducts. This can be caused where fasteners become loose and previously secured components rattle when air rushes past. Furthermore, the rapid heating and cooling of parts of the air conditioner can result in popping sounds from parts that no longer fit properly. Disassemble the conditioner to access the relevant section so that you can tighten or replace parts as necessary.

Lack of Power

If your air conditioning unit doesn’t appear to work at all, start by checking the thermostat to determine whether it is set to a level which is too cool to provide any benefit. If this doesn’t make any difference, the thermostat may need to be replaced. If the central air conditioning unit doesn’t come on at all, check the circuit panel to ensure that a fuse has not blown or a breaker has tripped. Alternatively, check the motor that runs the air conditioner for any faults.

Temperature Fluctuations

Where the temperature and level of air that the air conditioning unit produces varies significantly for no reason, it means that the thermostat is not properly calibrated and this will need to be done in order for it to work as it should.

Water Escape

If you discover water dripping from your central air conditioning, it is likely to be due to condensation which is no longer being drained away in the proper manner. Check for any damage or blockages to the drainage tubes that carry away water caused by condensation.