To keep your air conditioner in good shape throughout the summer, it helps to catch potential problems early. Listening for strange sounds, inspecting your outdoor unit, and checking for too much warm air will help you identify problems and call for help before they get worse.

Warm Air Coming From Vents

A little warm air when you first turn on your air conditioner is normal, as the air that has been in your ducts will be pushed out by the cool air behind it. If it stays warm, however, this could indicate a few different issues with your air conditioning system.

First, your air conditioner's fuses may have failed. Your fuses are designed to take the brunt of any electrical issue to protect more expensive parts. If your fuses are old or have failed, then your air conditioner won't be getting the power it needs; in that case, the fan itself will run and push air into your home, but the air conditioner itself won't be doing anything. Fuses are relatively inexpensive parts and can be bought at many hardware stores. To get parts yourself, safely remove the old fuses and take them with you to the store to find the right replacement.

Second, your ducts could be in poor shape and in need of repairs. If your ducts have gaps or if the insulation is falling away, you could lose most of the cool air before it gets to your rooms even if your air conditioner is working fine. If you haven't had a duct inspection in several years, call a technician to take a look.

Humming Sound

A humming sound from your air conditioner's outdoor unit will often occur when your air conditioner is supposed to be running. This sound often means that your air conditioner isn't getting the power it needs to run properly or that it is receiving power but a vital part is not working.

This can happen when your fuses have failed, as your air conditioner won't have the power to get the fan motor running, but it can also happen when a part such as your start capacitor fails. The start capacitor is responsible for getting the fan started; if this fails, then even if the motor itself is working fine, it won't be able to start moving until this capacitor is repaired or replaced. The motor itself could also be the source of the problem and will making humming sounds as it receives power but can't do anything with it.

If your air conditioner is on but your fan isn't moving, turn off your air conditioner and try to avoid using it until a technician can take a look at it.

Shutting Off and On Quickly

Your air conditioner should stay running until your house cools to the temperature you set, but if you notice it turning off after only a few minutes, there are a few issues that could be causing this problem.

This process is called "short cycling" and is often caused by either an issue with your refrigerant levels or your air filter. If you hear any hissing sounds or notice that the coils on your outdoor unit are frozen, call a technician to inspect your refrigerant, and try to avoid using your air conditioner until it's repaired.

You can also check your air filter to make sure it's clean. If an air filter gets very dirty, it can drastically reduce the amount of air your air conditioner pulls in. When your air conditioner has to work too hard to pull in air through a dirty filter, it can overheat, causing it to shut down prematurely. Depending on the material of your filters and how often you use your air conditioner, you should switch out your air filter at least once every few months. Your technician can take a look at your filter while they inspect your air conditioner, but you can also easily replace it yourself to see if this helps the problem.