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Top ten air conditioner problems* and what to do about them.

An air conditioner (particularly a spit system or a ducted system) is more likely to have problems than say a fridge, because it needs to be installed to suit the house it is going in. All of these top ten problems are serious and I recommend you take the following actions to minimise the risk of the problem occurring to you. If you get any of these problems, you will be dissatisfied. You will also waste a lot of time, effort and possibly even more money, on rectifying them. This is definitely a case of prevention is better than a cure.

Table showing the top ten airconditioner (reverse cycle or cooling only) problems and what to do about them

Rank Relative frequency Problem Recommended action
1 15% Excessive leaks in ductwork Make sure you are confident of the contractor and that they guarantee their workmanship (a five year installation guarantee is recommended if you can find it).
2 13% Incorrect operation of house or air conditioner Air conditioning systems are complicated and sometimes lack of knowledge contributes to this problem. If you buy the SureCool calculator you get a free copy of my publication 'How to get the most from your air conditioner'
3 10% Ducts too small or incorrectly laid out Make sure you are confident of the contractor.
4 9% Air conditioner too small Buy the SureCool calculator to check the air conditioner size required
6 6% Noise problems Make sure you buy a reputable brand with a reputation for quietness and are confident of the contractor.
7 4% Drain faults These can cause a lot of damage and disruption so make sure you are confident of the contractor.
8 4% Two storey house problems Two storey houses are generally much more difficult to air condition than single storey houses. Make sure you are confident of the contractor. Choosing the air conditioning contractor before the builder starts work will allow him to work with the builder to choose where the ducts and/or pipes will go.
9 4% Uneven temperatures Make sure you are confident of the contractor. In some cases it is impossible to get even temperatures in a ducted system without getting individual room control. This typically adds around $4,000 to the cost (sometimes more).
10 4% Unrealistic expectations Our free e-guide 'How to get the right air conditioning for you, in four easy steps' will give you an idea of what to expect.

The table above shows the top ten airconditioner problems and what to do about them

Summary

  1. The top 10 problems account for three quarters of all problems, so you should address all the relevant ones.
  2. The most important thing is to make sure you are confident of the contractor. This is why I recommend you buy from a specialist air conditioner contractor. It may appear to cost more to buy from a specialist, but buying from an electrical retailer, and certainly buying from a super discount retailer (a $2 shop) can turn out to be a lottery. You might save some money, but if anything goes wrong you are likely to be left holding the can. The retailer will say they aren't responsible for the installation and the installer will say you bought the wrong air conditioner for the situation. Even if it works, you are likely to end up paying for it in electricity costs as most cheap air conditioners have a poor star rating. If you buy from a contractor they will (normally) accept responsibility for the whole system and you are more likely to be satisfied.
  3. Our free e-guide 'How to get the right air conditioning for you, in four easy steps' gives a lot of guidance.
  4. Buy the SureCool calculator to check the air conditioner sizing.

*Based on an analysis of 68 problems found in systems referred to me by the South Australian Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. In other words these are serious problems that consumers were unable to resolve with their contractor without getting an independent investigation by me.

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