It's Gettin' Hot In Here – 5 Reasons Why Air Conditioners Fail When You Need Them The Most

It’s been a hot summer here on the Barrier Islands. With temperatures in the high 90s, the only refuge is a tall cool drink, going for a nice cool swim, or heading indoors for the cool comfort of your air conditioned home. Keeping your cool can be pretty hard to do, especially when your air conditioner suddenly stops working. 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are a number of reasons your AC unit can fail. One of the most common problems is improper operation. Don’t make your AC unit work harder than it has to. If your air conditioner is on, be sure that your windows and doors are closed. Otherwise the system will stay on much longer than it’s designed to because it’s trying to cool all the fresh warm air.

Some other common reasons AC units fail are equally obvious, these include improper installation, faulty repair work, and inadequate maintenance (see more below). Some problems you may be able to fix on your own, but others will require a visit from a professional technician, such as those available through Gamble Home Services. Make sure that any provider you hire to service, repair or replace your air conditioner is licensed and qualified.

In general, air conditioner manufacturers make high quality equipment. If your air conditioner suddenly stops working, first check the fuses or circuit breakers after letting the unit cool down for five minutes. If it’s a particularly hot day, your central air conditioner’s high-pressure limiter may have tripped due to the unit over working. If you know where this switch is, be sure to check it as well.

Below are additional common issues with AC systems that you should be aware of.

1. Inadequate maintenance

The most effective way to ensure that your air conditioner continues to work properly is to have it properly maintained, twice a year, by a qualified technician. Over time, AC filters and coils collect dust and dirt. Regular cleaning of these important elements keeps your unit running efficiently and can prolong the life of your unit by several years. As they say, maintenance doesn’t cost, it pays!

2. Refrigerant leaks

If your air conditioner was not properly charged up at installation, or it has a leak, then it may be running low on refrigerant. Leaks are more common and can be harmful for the environment. It’s important that you have a trained technician fix the leak, test the repair, and re-charge the system. Your unit’s refrigerant should be charged to the exact specifications of the manufacturer, for the best performance and efficiency.

3. Faulty wiring and electrical issues

There are a number of electrical issues that can affect your air conditioner. If your AC unit is not properly sized for your home, excessive wear and tear can result from the unit turning on and off too frequently. Exposed or corroded wires and terminals can also lead to faulty connections and failure of one or more parts of your unit. A qualified technician will look for these issues during a service call.

4. Outside fan is not working

A central air conditioning system has an exterior fan that helps transfer hot air from your home to the outside. If this fan does not operate properly, your air conditioner’s compressor can overload and shut down. Potentially, this can permanently damage your compressor and cost you money. Be sure to periodically inspect your exterior fan for debris, sometimes branches and leaves can can caught in the unit and cause malfunctions. Regular maintenance will also ensure your fan operates properly. If you have a second home, a home watch professional should check your property to ensure everything is in working order, when you are not there.

5. Drainage problems

As your air conditioner operates, condensate exits the unit to the exterior of your home through a drain tube. If this moisture does not drain properly, algae and mold can grow inside and clog the drain, causing elevated humidity, musty odors and water damage inside your home. If you discover issues with your AC drain, you can try flushing the tube with water or use a shop vac to try to remove any clogs. If the problem persists, be sure to call a service technician.

Nothing is more frustrating than when your air conditioning stops working on a hot summer day. While some problems are easy to fix, others require an experienced expert. Above all else, regular maintenance will ensure that your system works properly. At GHS, we offer twice yearly maintenance programs to keep you cool when you need it most, call 843-768-9923 or email email@gamblehomeservices.com to schedule a service call.


Gamble Home Services provides professional home services to the Kiawah, Seabrook and Lower Johns Islands in the Barrier Islands, just South of Charleston, SC. We are a family owned and operated local business and have served our region for more than 22 years. our complete range of home services includes Home Watch, Housekeeping, Home Maintenance & Repair, Renovation & Remodeling, and Rental Property Management. To learn more about Gamble Home Services or to schedule a free Whole Home Maintenance Survey or service call, please call or email Thomas Federl, President of GHS at 843-768-9923 or thomas@gamblehomeservices.com.