It’s every homeowners’ worst nightmare. With the sweltering summer sun beating down, you look to your air conditioning unit to save your family from the unforgiving heat. But for whatever reason, it isn’t working when you need it the most.

How could this happen?

It was working fine last summer.

What could I have done to spot this problem?

Well, don’t sweat it! Below are five ways to tell if you air conditioning needs to be serviced. And here’s an extra tip: Test it out in the spring so you aren’t biting your nails as you wait for an A/C repairman during their busiest time of the year.

  1. Hot Air

The most obvious problem is of course a unit that is blowing a lot of hot air instead of a cool breeze. This could be the result of compressor or leakage issues. Whatever the reason, it’s best to call a qualified technician to have this issue fixed.

  1. Numerous Cycles

If you observe that your A/C unit is going on and off repeatedly in order to achieve the desired temperature on the thermostat, this is known as short cycling. It can something as simple as a dirty air filter that needs to be replaced. However, it can also indicate bigger problems such as bad wiring or low levels of refrigerant. If you think it’s the latter, call a technician.

  1. Unusual Noises

Have you noticed that your air conditioner is either squeaking, buzzing, clicking or banging? Considering the fact that A/C units today are designed to be as quiet as possible, it is a sign that something is probably wrong with either the compressor, the belt, or the fan motor.

  1. Foul Odors

Whether it’s something rancid like a dirty sweat sock or the stench of a cigarette, foul odors can only mean trouble. Have this problem dealt with immediately as it could be the result of increased moisture or dirty air ducts that should be cleaned.

  1. Poor Airflow

Is there hardly any air coming out of your vents? What is some vents are blowing cold and others are hot? You may just have a dirty filter or a defective thermostat but poor airflow can also indicate a filthy fan or blocked vents. Inspect the unit and see if there are any obvious issues that can be addressed immediately such as obstructions.