Air conditioners can be a godsend on hot days, providing your home or workplace with a cool, breathable atmosphere. But like all electric devices, things can go wrong. Here are some symptoms that show that it's time to call a technician.
Some noises are not serious and can be cured yourself. If the filters are dirty the air conditioner will have to work harder to keep the air cool, and this can result in a whistling noise. You should clean them every three to six months to keep your system running smoothly.
If you hear a banging or clanking noise, this could be more serious. It could be due to a dislodged fan belt, or it could be due to a problem with the motor itself. In this case, you will not be able to fix it yourself, and you should get a licensed professional to look at it before you continue to use the unit.
If you find water leaking from your outdoor unit, this should not be a cause for alarm — it is just the moisture that the air conditioner has removed from the air, and it should be allowed to drain away.
More worrying is when the unit is leaking refrigerant; this may be accompanied by a gurgling or bubbling noise. The air conditioner will not work without this refrigerant, and it is a serious pollutant if it is allowed to leak out into the atmosphere, so you should not simply put more in. This kind of air conditioning repair can only be carried out by a professional.
Smoke or steam
It is normal for steam — or more accurately, water vapour — to be emitted by your outdoor unit. This is just the evaporation of frozen condensed water while the unit is heating.
If you notice a burning rubber or plastic smell, this could indicate a more serious problem. If you have just turned on the heat, it may simply be the unit burning off dust. However, if the problem persists for more than a few minutes or it happens in cooling mode, you may have an electrical fault. You should immediately switch off the unit and call a technician.
Remember, you should never try to open your air conditioning unit and try to fix it yourself. Simply call for professional advice and your system should be safely up and running again in no time.