8 ways your air conditioner tells you it needs attention

Summer is just around the corner, which means that Australians the country over will be dumping their jumpers and cranking their air conditioners. But while you might be used to ‘letting the dust burn off’ on your winter heating units, have you ever thought about cleaning your air conditioner? Or that that’s even a thing that people do? 

You might wonder why you’d bother with cleaning your air conditioner when it’s clearly not an easy task. Well, for one thing, energy.gov state that a dirty air conditioner can be 5% to 15% less effective than a clean one. Not only that, but preventative maintenance is often cheaper than having to replace an entire unit that has failed because of compounding problems.

So what kind of signs might suggest that your air conditioner needs cleaning or investigating? Here are eight for your consideration.

1.      Blowing dust

This might seem obvious, but if you’re seeing dust puff out of your air conditioner when you first turn it on, it’s likely that the filters inside are caked in dust. This is likely not only making your air conditioner work harder than it might normally need to, but it’s also likely spreading dust around your house. If you struggle with allergies in the spring and summer months, making sure that your air conditioner filters are clean and free of dust may go some way to alleviating your hayfever and allergy symptoms.

2.      Dripping water

If your air conditioner is leaking water, it might be okay, or it could be that there’s something wrong with your system. Some types of air conditioners struggle with humid days and wind up producing a lot of water while they’re working. Unfortunately, it could also be that your system is struggling with something, like a blocked drainage line, or even worse, there’s an issue with the unit’s refrigeration. If you’re worried about the amount of water coming out of your system, it might be time to call a technician.

3.      Visible Mould

If there’s mould on the outside of your air conditioner, just imagine what the insides look like. Mould is made up of spores that spread through the air, so when you turn on a mould-filled air conditioner, it’s likely blowing those mould spores all around the inside of your house. Yuck. The only way to clean this out is by going into the air conditioner itself and manually cleaning your filters (or getting an expert to do it for you).

4.      Weird noises

We all know about Snap, Crackle and Pop, but if your air conditioner’s mascots are Bang, Rattle or Wheeze, it’s far less charming. These noises can be caused by something as simple as sticks, leaves or other things stuck in the vents. However, it could also be parts of the system working themselves loose, or maybe even something more dire, like the compressor malfunctioning.

5.      Funky smells

We want to be helpful so we’re not going to go into the different kinds of smells you could expect from your air conditioner, but if this one rings true for you, then your air conditioner likely needs servicing or cleaning. Whether it’s mould that’s grown in the unit during winter, or some poor unfortunate creature that’s taken its last breath inside your air conditioning unit, it’s likely going to render your cooling almost unusable until it’s cleaned out.

6.      Blowing hot air

Realistically an air conditioner’s sole job is to cool the place. If your air conditioner is only blowing hot air, chances are that it’s basically useless to you. It could be that your system is losing or has lost its refrigerant, or there’s a problem with your outside unit or compressor (depending on which one your system uses). It might be as simple as clogged or blocked filters or condenser coils. Either way, you definitely don’t want to face summer having hot air blown at you inside your house, so if your air conditioner can’t keep its cool, then it needs professional attention.

7.      Reduced circulation

Sometimes your air conditioner will still be working, but it won’t be getting the reach that it used to. Maybe before it used to cool the kitchen as well, but now it’s only cooling the room that it’s in. Reduced circulation can be due to blocked ducts or vents, clogged up filters, or possibly failing parts, so if you notice that your unit isn’t blowing as hard as it used to, it might be worth calling a professional.

8.      It’s been a year since the last clean

All machinery and household goods should be serviced regularly, and your air conditioner is no different. If it has been more than a year since it was cleaned out or serviced last, it’s probably time to do it again, even if you aren’t facing any of the other warnings mentioned in this post.  Air conditioners are designed to get on with the job with minimal fuss, so when yours has a noticeable problem, it needs acting on. While it’s possible to do some basic air conditioner maintenance yourself, it’s probably best to employ a professional. If you’re servicing the air conditioner of a rental property, don’t forget that you can likely claim it back come tax time. It might be tempting to leave the problems to sit and see what happens, but you do so at the risk of the problems building up and causing more expensive damage. Like all things property-related, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.