Air conditioning problems can occur in office and work environments, particularly over the summer cooling period.

The following air conditioning problems are amongst the most common reported to our field service engineers and engineering staff. If they aren’t attended to or remedied promptly, they could cause damage to your building, business downtime, industrial relations or human resource issues, causing interruption to your business downtime.

1. Short cycling

Cooling is ineffective due to excessive workload

Complaints can sometimes be made that a room is too hot during warmer periods, even though the air conditioning is switched on.

Solution: generally, it is found that windows are open whilst the air conditioning is switched on. This brings more warm air in from outside the building, which adds to the cooling load. Essentially this means that cooling has to work harder and battle against incoming, often beyond the system’s capabilities.

2. Draughts

Air conditioning blowing cold air directly down on office occupants

Problems can often occur in multi-occupancy office environments whereby air conditioning is switched on and cold draughts are felt by people situated in the immediate vicinity of the unit.

Solution: the fan speed setting on an air conditioning controller can generally be set for high and low. Ensuring that the fan speed is set to low decreases the chances of draughts on occupants, as long as the temperature is comfortably set. The high and low fan settings are generally donated by H and L indicators on the unit controller.

3. Temperatures and environment comfort

Areas served by air conditioning are too cold for some

People feel uncomfortable in fluctuating temperatures, be they too hot or too cold. The temptation when you feel too hot is to adjust the controller to its coldest setting. This often leads to over-cooling which then leads to disputes and thus unhappy staff. Whilst there is a gender difference in temperature comfort, as men have a faster resting metabolic rate than women, other factors such as, noise, glare and draughts can also contribute to discomfort.

Solution: make incremental adjustments to the temperature, changing by 1°C at a time. Then assess comfort levels. It is important to remember that the temperature figure on the air conditioning controller is not a definitive comfort setting.

4. Water leakage

Air conditioning unit leaking water

Internally in the unit, warm air is pulled in from the room environment and passed over a cooling coil – either filled with cold water or refrigerant gas. Moisture in this warm air then condenses when it meets the cooling coil, producing a run-off of water. The condense system should then pump away the run-off water to stop any water leaks occurring. However, during periods when the unit is not in use, the condense system can dry up and become stuck. When the unit is then switched on, the float in the condense system will not rise to activate the pump, thus an overflow occurs, leaking water.

Solution: regular testing and inspection of air conditioning units will prove correct operation of the condense system and avoid any nuisance leaks and possible costly aesthetic building repairs.

5. No cooling

Air conditioning unit is set to 18°C but not cooling

Complaints are made that cooling is not functioning as desired, even though the unit is operating and set for a temperature of 18°C.

Solution: typically, when this issue occurs, the wrong service is in operation. Upon investigation of the controller, the unit is found to be operating in heating mode – sun icon – or fan mode – fan icon. The unit should operate in cooling mode – snowflake icon – to supply cooling. Remember air conditioning units perform the triple function of heating, ventilation and cooling, so it is important that the unit operates in the correct mode, as denoted by the icons on the controller.

Sun icon   Heating mode
Fan symbol   Fan mode – ventilation
Air conditioning chill symbol   Cooling mode

Planned preventative maintenance (PPM)

PPM of all units should take place as part of maintaining the overall, heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system. It is a proven cost-effective solution, providing comfortable conditions that support your business needs, as unmaintained plant will eventually fail to function, become troublesome or perform at levels that are inefficient. View further information on air conditioning maintenance.