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Carolina Climate Control Blog

Top Warnings Signs of a Broken AC


How can you tell if your AC has a malfunction? The easiest way is when the air conditioner won’t come on and send out any cool air. However, air conditioning systems rarely break down this abruptly. They often give earlier warning signs—some subtle, some less so.

If you know what to watch and listen for, you can head off a fully broken AC in Charleston, SC by calling our technicians. We’ll locate the problem with your cooling system before it really does fail on you and leave you broiling in your house in the middle of a hot summer day.

Let’s examine the main warning signs of an AC that’s heading for trouble.

Unusual Noises

Modern air conditioning systems are designed to make as little noise as possible. The sound of the compressor and fans in an AC shouldn’t be much louder than a normal conversation, and specially designed multi-stage ACs run even quieter. So when your air conditioner starts to get louder or you hear noises you aren’t used to, it’s a warning that something is amiss. These sounds can include:

  • Buzzing
  • Clanging
  • Hissing
  • Bubbling
  • Incessant clicking
  • Shrieking
  • Grinding

Acrid or Moldy Odors

Weird smells are also warning you of AC trouble. An acrid burning odor often means the AC’s motors are burning out or there’s an electrical problem. A moldy smell (dirty sock syndrome) is telling you that mold has started to grow somewhere in the air conditioner. You’ll want it fixed to get rid of the unpleasant odor, but you’ll also need the mold removed to prevent other cooling problems.

High Electrical Bills

Always pay attention to what you’re paying for electricity during the summer. A sudden spike in costs often points toward an AC problem because this appliance uses more electricity than almost any other appliance in the home. If it malfunctions, it will likely force it to work harder and drain more power. 

Constant Stopping and Starting

Have you noticed your air conditioning system is turning on and off more frequently than it normally does? This is a common problem called short-cycling: the AC is shutting off its cooling cycle prematurely, then turning back on a short time later. Short cycling puts an AC under greater strain and wastes power, but it’s usually a symptom of one of several larger underlying problems. Call technicians to diagnose the issue and have it fixed ASAP.

Uneven Cooling

The center of your house is just the right temperature, but some rooms are hotter than normal. This uneven cooling can come from a range of different issues with the AC. We recommend you first change out the air filter to see if this helps. If that doesn’t work, our HVAC experts can find out what is causing your AC to start losing its cooling capacity. 

Fussy Thermostat

You should be able to set the thermostat to one temperature during the day and leave it for hours. If you find that you have to continually adjust the thermostat to find the right comfort level for your household, then either the thermostat is malfunctioning or the air conditioner is. 

If you think you’ve got an AC in peril, contact Carolina Climate Control and we’ll say “The Moose Is Loose in Your Neighborhood!”

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