Common Causes of Air Conditioning Failures

May 13th, 2016 | AC Problems

In the heat of summer, the cool breezes of an air conditioner can be a life saver. However, when you find your air conditioning not working, it can be an incredibly frustrating problem. There are many reasons for air conditioner failures, and knowing the most common sources of these problems can save you a lot of time and money.

Faulty Wiring

Usually a symptom found in new systems that weren’t installed properly, faulty wiring is a very common culprit of air conditioner problems. Wiring problems can also happen due to weather damage, animals or because a wire has been pinched somewhere within the unit. A wiring problem is usually determined by little to no response in the system when it is activated.

Thermostat Issues

Unless there’s a manual override, air conditioners kick on only when the thermostat reaches a specific temperature. If you find your air conditioning not working even when the temperature is high, try checking the thermostat for any setting problems. Lower the temperature by five degrees and see if it works. The thermostat might be faulty altogether and may require replacement.

Blown Fuses and Tripped Breakers

For central air conditioning, check the main control panel and any secondary panels for blown fuses and tripped breakers. Replace any blown fuses that you see and reset any tripped breakers. If you turn the unit back on and another fuse blows or breaker trips, it may be a more serious electrical problem that would require professional assistance.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is a substance that is used to cool the air that is circulated through the system. If the system is operating but the air being thrown is not cold, it could indicate that there is a leak in the refrigerant distribution system. Open the unit and check for any pools of liquid, large stains, drips or broken tubing. Leaks are usually easy to repair on your own, but they may require professional repairs depending on the severity of the problem.

No Airflow

If the system seems to kick on but there is no air being thrown through the vents, it could indicate a problem with the fan. Fan issues are sometimes caused by an obstruction interfering with the path of the blades. However, if the blades aren’t even attempting to turn, it could indicate a more severe problem in the fan itself. If the problem is the fan, it might be indicative of a bad motor or a faulty capacitor.

Unit Turns On and Off Randomly

This is a particularly frustrating problem because it can easily fool you into believing that the unit is functional when it really isn’t. If the air conditioner tends to turn on and off at random intervals, it could indicate either a dirty evaporator or a dirty condenser. There could also be an obstruction in the condenser that is preventing it from functioning properly. The best remedy for this problem is thoroughly cleaning the unit.

Clogged Filters

When your filters get clogged, it not only restricts air flow but it also causes problems with the condenser and fans. The air filters of any air conditioning system need to be cleaned or replaced at least twice a year, once at the start of the cooling season and again at the end.


There are many common reasons why an air conditioner may fail to work, but there are usually simple solutions for these issues. If you find that the problem continues, fixing the problem is outside of your skill level or you are concerned with safety issues in the repair, contact a professional HVAC service to perform the repairs for you.