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7 Most Common Reasons for Air Conditioning Repairs

7 Most Common Reasons for AC Repairs | Top Notch Heating & Air

Is there anything more miserable than a hot and muggy August day under a gray Pittsburgh sky? How about coming home from work that day to a broken air conditioner?

Why chance your comfort this summer? As much as we at Top Notch love all yinz, so many of the emergency AC repair calls we get are preventable. People just aren’t familiar with the most common causes of air conditioner problems and how to be proactive with maintenance to prevent them.

So, we thought it would be helpful to talk about seven of the most common causes of air conditioner problems. You’ll see that many of these problems are preventable with routine maintenance.

Dirty Condenser Coils

Warm air inside your house is caught and released outside your house by your AC’s condenser coils. Condenser coils don’t work as well when they’re covered in dirt and grime. This impedes heat transfer. The unit has to work much harder to sufficiently cool your home. This increases wear and tear on parts, raises your utility bill, and ultimately leads to a complete system failure. While Pittsburgh is no longer the “smokey city” it once was, soot and pollution still fill the air. Dirty condenser coils are a very common cause for air conditioner repair in Pittsburgh.

Frozen Evaporator Coils

Refrigerant fills your AC’s evaporator coil. An air conditioner’s evaporator coil sucks up heat from the air – similar to how a sponge absorbs water. While it may sound weird, these coils only work properly if warm air circulates around them. If anything restricts airflow, ice may build up on the outer part of the coil. When this occurs, you might notice warm air – or no air at all – coming from registers.

Low Refrigerant

Your air conditioner relies on refrigerant to remove heat and humidity from the air inside your home. Sometimes leaks in the refrigerant lines will result in low refrigerant. When this happens, your AC loses its ability to effectively cool the air. Unfortunately, this AC repair is more complex than just replenishing the lost refrigerant. The source of the leak must first be detected. Any holes in lines must then be repaired. Sometimes there can even be multiple leaks. This makes for a time-consuming and often expensive air conditioner repair.

Fan Problems

To cool the air inside your home, a fan inside your air conditioner blows indoor air over the unit’s evaporator coil. At the same time, another fan expels heat from inside to the outside of the house through the outdoor unit’s condenser.

Several problems can keep either of these fans from working properly. Anything from a lack of lubrication to a faulty motor, worn belts, and a build up of dirt and debris. Anytime airflow is affected, as in the case of fan problems, many air conditioner problems can arise. Overlooking or neglecting these issues can result in a complete compressor failure, which is often fatal to an air conditioner unit.

Thermostat Problems

Believe it or not, there are still plenty of old Pittsburgh homes with dial-type thermostats. Sometimes these aren’t calibrated correctly. This means the control system doesn’t send the right instructions to the air conditioner. The fix can either be to replace or re-calibrate the thermostat.

The newer programmable thermostats aren’t without their hiccups either. Programming these thermostats can be tricky and result in them being set incorrectly.

While we certainly don’t mind visiting you, before calling us, check your thermostat’s manual to confirm the settings are correct. It’s a quick painless trip for us, but it can be a little embarrassing for the homeowner. However, it’s very common. Many air conditioner repair calls we get end up being nothing more than a thermostat’s settings. That said, many times the thermostat itself needs to be repaired or replaced.

Leaking Ducts

The cool air coming from your AC is carried throughout your house by the duct work running through your walls. Any break or hole in these ducts can trap all this coolness inside your walls. That does no one any good. It also makes your air conditioner work harder to cool your house to the thermostat’s setting. This spikes your energy consumption and utility bill.

Clogged Drains

Ever wonder what your AC does with all of that moisture it removes from the air? Well, ideally, it’s emitted into a pan and down the drain through a drain line. But problems arise when the drain or line gets clogged or the pan fills and a water backup damages the cooling system. Leaks can also cause significant property damage – potentially damaging your ceilings, walls, furniture, etc.


Don’t wait until your AC completely breaks down to get an HVAC tech to your house. A yearly AC tuneup should get your home’s central air in shape for the demands of summer.

  • Dirty air filters can be replaced too prevent frozen evaporator coils.
  • The condition of your ductwork can be assessed.
  • A modern programmable thermostat can be installed and controlled remotely with a tablet or smartphone. Bill or one of our Top Notch techs can even give you a brief tutorial so you’ll know how to use it.
  • A springtime air conditioner tune up lets us clear brush and debris from around the unit so the unit can more effectively expel heat.

If you’re in the Pittsburgh area, and you’d like an AC inspection and tune up each spring, it’s a relatively inexpensive maintenance call with short and long term monetary benefits.

Call 412-381-0598 or contact us online to schedule a spring time Pittsburgh air conditioner inspection and tuneup.

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