Signs Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Working Properly

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During the hot summer months, you want your air conditioner running at peak efficiency so that you are comfortable in your home.


Unfortunately, many homeowners may discover all too late that this essential equipment is not performing optimally. If you’re sweating while sitting on your couch and doing next to nothing, that’s a visible sign. Other signs are less apparent, but they can be important indicators that you need an air conditioning repair or maintenance.

Some of the signs to look for when figuring out what might be wrong with your AC operation are airflow, strange noises, odours and leaks. By being proactive and aware, you’ll be able to maximize air conditioner efficiency and know when to schedule an inspection by an HVAC technician.

Here are a few reasons why your AC may not be working correctly.

Weak Air Flow from the Vent

Central air conditioning works by taking warm air, transferring it outside your home, and then blowing cooled air throughout a space.

If it’s blowing warm air, it could be a problem with the AC compressor or a sign that your air conditioner is low on refrigerant. If the air is cooler, but the airflow is weak, it could be caused by a dirty air filter in the return vent or the air handler. It could also be a frozen evaporator coil, an air duct problem or an issue with your blower fan.

The AC is Making Strange Noises

Air conditioners are complex machines with a lot of moving parts, so they all make some noise. However, if you begin hearing new, strange noises from your AC, it could be a warning sign that it’s not working correctly.

A squealing sound could mean that a component in your AC unit, perhaps a blower fan or compressor fan, needs to be lubricated. A whistling sound might indicate a refrigerant leak. A grinding noise can be a sign of a potentially serious AC compressor problem. Anything out of the ordinary should be serviced immediately.

Moisture or Leakage

If you see leaks around your air conditioning system, you’ve got a problem to address.

If water is pooling or dripping near your AC unit, it may not be that air conditioner not working, but that the drain tube for condensation is blocked. An AC tech can unclog the tube and treat it with a chemical to prevent rust or mould growth that can block the tube and cause flooding.

In other cases, the moisture could be from a leak that is a serious problem. If you suspect that the leak is refrigerant, you’ll want to schedule air conditioner repair immediately.

Strange Odors When the AC is Running

Any strange smell is not welcomed in your home. If it’s coming from your AC it’s time for action. Some potential causes for the smell:

  • A pungent smell could be a sign that wire insulation in your HVAC system is damaged.
  • A smell of exhaust, such as with a gas engine, can indicate a fluid leak.
  • A smell of dirty feet often means that mildew or fungus is growing near your air conditioning equipment.
  • If there’s any strange smell when your HVAC system is running, it’s time for professional air conditioning service.

Sudden High Electricity Bills

Heating and cooling a home can account for nearly 50 percent of a home’s electricity use. The scorching heat of summer puts demands on your central air conditioning. That means electricity bills will increase during times of peak usage. However, if a sudden unexpected spike occurs, it might be time for a service call to investigate.


Central air conditioning is a complex system that requires maintenance. So, as you try to stay cool during the hottest months of the year, make sure your AC is working properly by having it inspected for any out of the ordinary problems.