7 Signs Your Air Conditioner Needs Repair

Whether your air conditioner has started making a rattling sound, or your room just isn’t getting as cold as it used to, it can be tricky to know when your air conditioner needs repair. That’s why we’ve pulled together this handy guide to the seven main signs your air conditioner needs repair. We’ll cover what to look out for, how much it’s likely to cost to repair the air conditioner and discuss what repairs you can do yourself.

Seven signs your air conditioner needs repair

Here are the top seven signs your air conditioner needs repair.

1. It’s not getting cool (or warm)

It might sound obvious, but if your air conditioner isn’t reaching the desired temperature, there’s a good chance it needs a repair. In some cases the air conditioner might not cool at all, or it might have trouble maintaining the desired temperature. This can be caused by a range of problems, from a fault with the thermostat, to low refrigerant levels, blocked filters or a dirty condenser so it’s important to get it checked.

2. Your power bills have gone up

If you’ve noticed a sharp increase in your power bills, but haven’t been using the air conditioner more often, chances are the unit needs a repair. This is a clear sign the air conditioner isn’t operating at peak efficiency and needs an inspection.

3. You notice a bad smell

The air coming out of your air conditioner shouldn’t smell. If you notice a musty, mouldy or otherwise unpleasant smell, it’s a good idea to inspect your air conditioner. This is typically a sign that the filter needs changing, or the unit needs cleaning to remove mould and bacteria that have grown inside. If you notice a burning smell, it’s important to turn the air conditioner off right away as this might be a sign of an electrical fault.

4. The unit is noisy

Maybe your air conditioner is making a rattling noise. Or maybe it sounds like it’s struggling more than usual. Sometimes, the air conditioner might even start vibrating. A noisy air conditioner can be a sign of a mechanical problem with the fan, a loose part inside the unit, or a problem within the plumbing that’s making the air conditioner work harder than usual.

5. The unit is blowing warm air

Blowing warm air and reduced air flow are classic signs your air conditioner is low on refrigerant. They can also signal problems with the compressor, or blocked air filters.

6. Liquid is dripping from the air conditioner

If you’ve noticed liquid dripping out of your air conditioner you might have a refrigerant leak. This is a serious problem that you should sort out right away. Moisture on the wall around your air conditioner can also be a sign of a blockage in the drainage system. It’s important to address this too to prevent mould from growing on the wall behind the unit, or on the inside of the unit itself.

7. Frequent cycling

Air conditioners are designed to operate on cycles. Once they hit the desired temperature, they no longer blow as much air and conserve power. But if your air conditioner is cycling more frequently than usual, there might be something wrong. It’s a clear sign it’s having to work harder to achieve the same results.

Air conditioner repairs – what you can DIY

If you’ve figured out your air conditioner needs repairing, but don’t want to fork out for a professional repair service, you’re probably wondering what air conditioner repairs you can DIY. Generally speaking, it’s better to leave major repairs to the experts, but there’s still plenty you can do yourself, including:

  • Troubleshooting. Owner’s manuals typically have a comprehensive trouble shooting section to help you with common problems like some of the ones listed above. Sometimes if your air con isn’t reaching the right temperature it’s a simple sign your settings haven’t been optimised, or the filter needs cleaning.
  • General maintenance. This includes inspecting the inside and outside units for wear and tear, cleaning your air conditioner and replacing clogged filters.
  • Cleaning or replacing filters. This is a common culprit for poor air conditioner performance—especially if they haven’t been cleaned in a while. Filters are easy to remove and clean and don’t require any special equipment.
  • Cleaning the condenser fins on the outside unit. Over time, these can gather dust and dirt, so it’s a good idea to clean them once or twice a year.
  • Removing mould. If your air conditioner smells musty or damp, it might be suffering from mould build up. It’s a good idea to wipe the inside of the air conditioner with a damp cloth every so often.

There are some tasks you should leave to the professionals. These include:

  • Checking or topping up refrigerant levels. Refrigerant is toxic and you need a licence to handle it in Australia. Refrigerant levels should remain constant throughout the life of your air conditioner, but if you notice a leak is letting refrigerant escape, call an air conditioner repair professional to fix the problem.
  • Problems with the compressor. You’re best leaving the inner mechanics of the air conditioner to the professionals.
  • Electrical faults. Unless you’re an electrician, it’s safest not to mess with your air conditioner’s wiring or electrical system.

Air conditioner repair cost

You can generally expect to pay up to $200 for a basic air conditioner service and between $200 and $2,000 for repairs.

The cost to repair your air conditioner will depend on a few factors:

  • How much the air conditioner repair service charges in labour cost. The more complex the repair, the longer it’ll take to fix. Most air conditioning repairers charge between $80 – $110 per hour to service domestic air conditioners.
  • The cost of the air conditioner parts. Some components will be more expensive to fix or replace than others.
  • Whether your air conditioner is still within warranty. Most manufacturers will cover repair costs for a few years after purchase.


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