Is it Safe to Keep Using Your AC Until the Repair Company Arrives?

Posted on: 26 June 2019

When something goes wrong with your air conditioner, it's best to call the repair company ASAP rather than waiting for things to get worse. Hopefully, the company can fit you in within the next day or two so you can get your AC back in working order and enjoy a comfortable, cool home once again. But in the meantime, should you keep running your air conditioner, or turn it off? That depends. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help determine the best course of action.

Is the air conditioner still blowing out cool air?

It the air conditioner is blowing out warm or room temperature air, go ahead and turn it off. Continuing to run it may not make the damage any worse, but it is a waste of energy since the unit's not even doing its job of cooling your home. On the other hand, if the air conditioner is still blowing out cold air, you may be able to leave it on until you have a chance to have repairs made—depending on your answers to the other questions that follow.

Have you noticed any odd smells?

A musty or dusty odor is not a huge cause for concern, especially if you just turned the AC unit on for the season. This usually says more about the ductwork than about the AC unit itself. But if the AC unit is giving off a metallic or electrical odor, you need to turn it off. The electrical connections may be shorting out, which could be contributing to the unit's malfunction, and if you continue to run the unit, you could be at risk for a fire. The same goes for a burning odor, which could indicate an electrical problem or a blower motor that is broken and overheating.

Is the circuit breaker tripping?

If the circuit breaker just trips once, that could be a coincidence. But if you turn it back on and the AC unit trips again, don't chance it. Turn the unit off until the repair person arrives. An AC unit that keeps blowing the circuit could have an electrical short. Thus, it's not safe to run and running your AC could cause more damage.

Have you noticed any fluid beneath the air conditioner?

Check under the air conditioner to see whether there is any fluid puddling in the area. If this fluid is clear, it's just water. You probably have a clogged drain or condensate tube, which your repair person can fix, but in the meantime, you can keep running the air conditioner as long as you don't mind more water pooling up.

On the other hand, if there is pink or green fluid beneath your air conditioner, that's refrigerant. With a refrigerant leak, your air conditioner may not cool effectively. But if it is still blowing out cool air, it's okay to keep running it if you must. More refrigerant may leak out as you continue running the unit, but at this point, your contractor is going to have to repair the unit and refill the refrigerant anyways.

Is the air conditioner freezing over?

If there's a lot of ice buildup on the air conditioner, you can try turning it off, letting the ice melt, and then running it again. If the ice builds up again and the unit turns off before your repair person arrives, however, you're best off leaving it. Freezing over can suggest any number of problems, from a clogged filter to a refrigerant leak, but none of them are terribly dangerous.

If you're still not sure whether it's safe to run your air conditioner, reach out to local AC services. They can give you more personalized guidance for your situation.