7 Signs Your Air Conditioner Is Failing & How to Prevent It

As temperatures soar, your air conditioner becomes your best friend, offering a much-needed escape from the heat. However, like all mechanical equipment, AC units can wear down over time, leading to inefficiency or complete failure. 

Recognizing the early warning signs of a failing AC unit can save you from discomfort and help avoid costly repairs or replacements. Here’s what to look for:

Signs Your AC Is Nearing Its End

1. Decreased Cooling Efficiency

  • Struggling to Cool: When your AC can’t keep up with the heat, leaving your home warmer than the set temperature, it could be a sign of a refrigerant leak or a failing compressor. Refrigerant leaks reduce the capacity of your AC to absorb heat from your home, while compressor issues can hinder the system’s ability to circulate refrigerant effectively. 
  • Longer Cooling Times: An air conditioner that takes an unusually long time to cool your home or fails to achieve the desired temperature could be suffering from obstructed air flow or a malfunctioning blower motor. Dirty coils can inhibit heat exchange, while a failing blower motor may not circulate air efficiently. 

2. Unusual Sounds from the Unit

  • Grinding Noises: Motor bearings can wear out over time, and a grinding sound may indicate they’re reaching the end of their lifespan. This issue requires immediate attention; if left unaddressed, it could lead to motor failure, necessitating a costly replacement.
  • Squealing Sounds: A squealing noise can indicate a slipped or worn belt in older AC units. While belt-driven systems are less common in modern ACs, those still in operation may experience this issue, signaling the need for a quick belt replacement.
  • Banging or Clanking: Loose or broken parts within your AC can create a noticeable banging or clanking sound. This issue often results from normal wear and tear, but should be addressed quickly to avoid potential damage to other components, which could lead to more extensive repairs.

3. Spike in Energy Bills

  • Increased Consumption: An unexplained increase in your energy bills can be a telltale sign of an inefficient AC unit. As efficiency decreases, your AC has to work harder and longer to cool your home, leading to higher energy consumption. A professional energy audit and system inspection can identify the root cause, which may include leaks, dirty filters, or aging components.

4. Frequent Cycling

  • Short Cycling: Frequent on-and-off cycles, known as short cycling, can indicate an overheated compressor or pressure imbalances within your AC system. It not only increases wear on your AC, but also raises energy costs.
  • Constant Operation: If your AC runs continuously without cycling off, it might be struggling to reach the set temperature due to inadequate capacity or a malfunctioning thermostat.

5. Unpleasant Odors

  • Musty Smells: A musty or moldy odor from your AC suggests the presence of mold or mildew within the unit or ductwork. This issue not only affects air quality, but can also pose health risks. 
  • Burning Odors: A burning smell from your AC unit is an urgent sign of an electrical issue or an overheating component. For safety, turn off your AC at the first sign of a burning odor and contact a professional immediately to prevent potential fire hazards.

6. Moisture or Leak Problems

  • Water Leaks: Excessive water around your AC unit can indicate a clogged drain pipe or a malfunctioning condensate pump. Prompt repairs can prevent water damage and mold growth.
  • Refrigerant Leaks: Refrigerant leaks not only reduce your AC’s efficiency, but can also pose health risks. Signs include ice formation on coils and a hissing sound. Due to the environmental and health hazards, a licensed professional should address refrigerant leaks immediately.

7. Thermostat Issues

  • Inaccurate Readings: Inconsistent cooling or certain rooms feeling too warm or too cold can suggest thermostat issues rather than problems with the AC unit itself. Whether it’s recalibration or replacement, addressing thermostat issues can significantly improve your AC’s performance and efficiency.

QUIZ: Is Your AC Unit in Good Health?

Think your AC might be on the fritz? Take our quick quiz to assess the health of your air conditioning unit and discover whether it’s time to call in the professionals from Silver State.

  • How old is your AC unit?
  1. Less than 5 years
  2. 5-10 years
  3. More than 10 years


  • How often do you perform routine maintenance on your AC unit?
  1. Every few months
  2. Once a year
  3. Rarely/Never


  • Have you noticed any unusual noises coming from your AC unit?
  1. No
  2. Yes, occasional noises
  3. Yes, frequent or very loud noises


  • Does your AC cool your home evenly and efficiently?
  1. Yes, everywhere feels comfortable
  2. Mostly, but some rooms are less comfortable
  3. No, it struggles to cool the house


  • Have you noticed a significant increase in your energy bills without a corresponding increase in usage?
  1. No, my bills have stayed about the same
  2. Yes, there’s been a slight increase
  3. Yes, my bills have increased significantly


  • Do you experience moisture problems or see leaks around your AC unit?
  1. No, I haven’t noticed any moisture issues
  2. Yes, I’ve seen occasional moisture or minor leaks
  3. Yes, there are frequent leaks or a constant presence of moisture


  • Have you detected any unpleasant odors when your AC is running?
  1. No, the air smells clean
  2. Occasionally, I notice musty or strange smells
  3. Yes, there are persistent musty, burning, or chemical odors


  • How does your AC handle humidity levels in your home?
  1. My home feels comfortably dry
  2. Sometimes it feels a bit more humid than I’d like
  3. My home often feels uncomfortably humid


  • Does your AC blow cold air consistently?
  1. Yes, the air is always cold
  2. Mostly, but sometimes the air isn’t as cold as it should be
  3. No, the air often feels lukewarm or not cold enough


  • Have you had to repair your AC unit more than once in the past year?
  1. No, I haven’t needed any repairs
  2. Yes, I’ve had it repaired once
  3. Yes, I’ve needed multiple repairs


  • Mostly A’s: Your AC seems to be in good health! Keep up with regular maintenance to ensure it stays that way.
  • Mostly B’s: Your AC might be showing early signs of wear. Consider scheduling a maintenance check-up.
  • Mostly C’s: It’s likely your AC unit is experiencing significant issues. Contact Silver State for a comprehensive inspection.

Simple Maintenance Tips to Prevent Failure

1. Change Your Air Filters Regularly

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to maintain your AC’s efficiency is by regularly changing its air filters. Dirty filters restrict airflow, forcing your system to work harder, which can lead to increased energy consumption and reduced cooling capacity. Aim to replace your air filters every 30 to 90 days, depending on usage and the type of filter.

2. Keep the Area Around Your Unit Clear

Ensure that the external component of your air conditioner, the condenser unit, has enough space to “breathe.” Keep at least a 2-3 feet clearance around it from any foliage or debris to ensure adequate airflow, preventing overheating and potential damage.

3. Schedule Annual Professional Inspections

A yearly check-up by a professional can catch issues before they escalate into costly repairs. These inspections typically include cleaning the coils, checking refrigerant levels, testing system controls, and ensuring that all components are in good working order.

4. Monitor System Performance

Pay attention to how your AC performs throughout the season. Signs of reduced efficiency, unusual noises, or inconsistent cooling can indicate maintenance needs. Early detection can prevent small problems from becoming major issues.

5. Upgrade Insulation and Seal Leaks

Enhancing your home’s insulation and sealing leaks in windows and doors can significantly reduce the workload on your AC unit. This not only extends its lifespan, but also contributes to energy savings.

Silver State’s Club Membership: Stay Up-to-Date With Your AC Maintenance

For those seeking a comprehensive solution to air conditioner maintenance, Silver State’s Club Membership is exactly that. This program is designed to provide homeowners with peace of mind, ensuring that their AC systems receive the care and attention needed for optimal performance.

Benefits of Joining Silver State’s Club Membership:

  • Regular, Professional Maintenance Services: Members enjoy scheduled maintenance visits, where our trained technicians perform a thorough inspection and tune-up of your AC unit, ensuring everything is in top condition.
  • Priority Service: When you need repairs or service, being a member of the Club Membership means you’ll be at the front of the line. This priority service is invaluable during peak seasons when demand for repairs is high.
  • Special Pricing on Repairs: Should your system require repairs, members benefit from exclusive pricing, saving you money and making it easier to manage unexpected maintenance costs.
  • Peace of Mind: Perhaps the most significant benefit is the peace of mind that comes from knowing your air conditioning system is being looked after by professionals. This proactive approach to maintenance can prevent sudden breakdowns, ensuring your home remains comfortable year-round.

Take Action Before It’s Too Late: Schedule Your Service Today with Silver State

Don’t wait for your air conditioner to fail. If you’re experiencing any of these signs, or if it’s simply time for your annual maintenance, contact Silver State today. Our experienced technicians can diagnose and fix any issues, ensuring your AC unit keeps you cool and comfortable all summer long.

Schedule your service visit now for worry-free AC maintenance!