The 3 S’s: Indications That Something’s Wrong With Your Air Conditioner

If your air conditioner is blowing out cool air, everything is okay, right? Well, maybe not. Before air conditioners break down completely, they often start experiencing minor issues that don't yet interfere with their ability to cool and distribute air. If you catch these early signs of a problem and call an HVAC contractor, you won't have to go without cool air. Luckily, it's easy to remember the signs as they can be summarized as the 3 S's.


The only time it's not alarming to notice a smell coming from your air conditioner is the first time you turn the AC on in the summer. During this first run, you might smell some dust that gets cleared out of the ducts. After that first run, though, any dusty or musty odors coming from the AC unit should cause you to take action. They could be a sign of dirt or mold accumulation in the unit, which is not an emergency, but will definitely lead to inefficiency and an increased risk of breakdowns if you don't have the unit cleaned promptly.


The most common time for AC owners to notice squealing is when the air conditioner is first cycling on. The squeal often goes in a cycle — squeal, quiet, squeal, quiet, and so forth. This is because the squealing is usually the result of a torn or worn motor belt. The squeal happens each time the damaged portion of the belt passes a certain part of the motor. Even through your air conditioner can keep running for a while with a partially torn belt, the belt will eventually tear all of the way through, and you want to have it repaired before that happens. 

Slow airflow

Sometimes AC owners notice that although the air coming out of their vents is cold, the air is not moving very quickly. There's actually only a small amount of cold air coming out. If this happens at just one or two vents, there may be a blockage in the ducts leading to those vents, which could cause damage to the air conditioner over time. There could also be some issue with the blower motor, causing it to put out less air than it should. This could be anything from a worn ball bearing to a torn belt.

Keep your eyes and ears peeled for the 3 S's. If you notice any of them, contact your air conditioning contractor.