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Using Your Senses to Diagnose AC Problems

At Home HVAC Problem Solving

As an appliance that works overtime to keep you and your family comfortable, your AC is bound to have a few issues here and there if not used in best practice. While you may not have the expert training that HVAC technicians possess to fully repair all types of damage to your unit, you are equipped with the senses needed to discover many common issues!

That’s right, we’re talking about sight, sound, touch, smell, and...well maybe you shouldn’t be using taste to diagnose an issue in this case. But, read on to learn how 4 of your senses can help you solve your cooling mystery.


The main purpose of an air conditioner is to make your skin feel cooler, more comfortable! This should make it fairly easy to notice when something goes wrong. If the number on your thermostat does not match the temperature in your home, your air filter could be clogged and in need of replacement.

If this doesn’t solve the issue, you may need to call in a technician to inspect the condenser unit.


Low air flow or warm air coming from your unit could indicate an issue outside. Head out and look at the outdoor component of your

HVAC unit. If you see a lot of branches and leaves on and around the area, they could be blocking the unit's ability to create airflow. If you notice that multiple condenser fins look bent or damaged, head to the hardware store and purchase a condenser comb for a quick fix!

Another visual clue that there’s an issue afoot is a leak. Leaks are often hidden behind walls or within the unit, however, if you notice stains on the wall or water around the unit, call a technician to get things fixed up!

Additionally, if your home is looking dustier than usual, you might want to check your HVAC filter. It is probably full or clogged and in need of replacing.


Your nose is your friend when it comes time to be an AC detective. If you notice a musty smell, around your unit or coming from vents, it’s likely that you have mold or mildew growth on your hands. While your unit can continue to run properly, the mold is detrimental to your indoor air quality! It’s best to address this issue as quickly as possible to keep your family breathing clean air.

A burning smell indicates an electrical issue. If you smell this, turn off the unit and call the professionals for an emergency appointment.

Finally, if your vents are giving off a dirty laundry smell, there is probably some lingering bacteria throughout the unit. To rid yourself of this stench, your HVAC tech can clean the unit, and schedule a duct cleaning.


It's impossible for an HVAC unit to run without making any noise. There are, however, some sounds that will be too loud or irritating to ignore.

  • Hissing - This is likely the result of a leaking refrigerant line.
  • Banging - A loose piece in the motor or blower.
  • Buzzing - Loose parts, debris, a full air filter in need of replacement, or refrigerant leak.
  • Grinding - A compressor problem.
  • Humming - The motor likely has an imbalance, a part is loose, or the compressor is strained.

Who knew there were so many noises your AC could make? If you suddenly notice any of these sounds, describe it to your technician so they may efficiently repair the issue and return your home to a quiet place again.

AC Repair in San Antonio

If you’re experiencing any of these issues with your air conditioner, give Zimmermann Air Conditioning & Heating a call at (210) 880-0885!