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The 5 Common Problems with PTAC Units, and How to Solve Them

ptac problems

Packaged terminal air conditioners or PTACs offer a lot of advantages. They don’t require ductwork, making them cheaper and easier to install than conventional ducted AC systems. They emit less noise than a window AC unit while providing both cooling and heating functions in one standalone package.

However like all appliances even PTAC units can suffer malfunctions from time to time. In this guide, we discuss the five most common problems that happen to PTACs, how to diagnose them, and how to fix them.

1. Water Leaks

One of the most common problems encountered by PTAC owners are water leakages inside the room. When the unit is not properly maintained or regularly used, moisture can accumulate inside, leading to condensation and eventually, water leaks.

This is critical to resolve since water leaks can cause extensive long-term damage to walls, floors and carpeting. It can also lead to healthy issues due to mold formation and electrical safety issues if the water affects other household appliances.


Water dripping from the unit


  • PTAC is not used for long periods of time
  • Irregular cleaning or improper maintenance
  • Improper installation


✔ Run the PTAC regularly. This is important for hospitality accommodations where the room may not be occupied for periods of time.

✔ In extremely cold areas, use a dehumidifier to minimize moisture buildup.

✔ Have the PTAC serviced annually to ensure proper operation and prevent condensation formation.

✔ Make sure the unit is installed with a slight outside tilt to maintain proper drainage.

2. PTAC is Struggling to Work

If you experience air that isn’t cold or hot enough, the PTAC may be struggling. This is usually caused by a clogged air filter or debris that blocks the grills, disrupting airflow.


  • Air is not cool or hot enough
  • Abnormal noises during operation


  • Dirty air filter
  • Blockage of air intakes and vents caused by dirt, other appliances, or common household debris like pet dander


Clean the air filter regularly. The more the PTAC is used, the more frequently the air filter should be cleaned.

✔ Make sure the unit is not blocked by household items, dropped objects, furniture or other appliances.

✔ Check whether the outside is obstructed by foliage or environmental debris.

3. Ice Formation

PTACs with cooling and heating can be susceptible to ice formation. This can also happen to units located in extremely cold climates. Any sign of ice is a cause for concern as it can be highly detrimental to the PTAC and result in immediate damage.

In addition, the ice can affect the thermostat, causing it to register erroneous temperature readings.


  • Ice buildup on the outside of the unit


  • Damaged thermostat
  • Fan issue
  • Extremely cold temperature 


✔ Unplug the PTAC and call for a service technician.

✔ Do not use the PTAC until the root cause has been identified and fixed.

4. The PTAC is Emitting Strange Sounds

There may be times when you hear the PTAC making a strange sound during the operation. The type of sound you hear can indicate the problem.

Humming – Can be due to a broken fan blade.

Wheezing – The unit is struggling due to dirty filters or clogged intakes

Vibrations – Loose or broken mounting brackets

Crackling – Electrical short


✔ Unplug the unit and inspect the outside for loose mounting.

✔ Check the fan for damage or missing blades

✔ Ensure the air filters are clean and the intakes are not obstructed

✔ If the sound persists, discontinue using the PTAC and call for a service visit. 

5. The PTAC Won’t Turn On / Shuts Off

If the PTAC ceases operation, this can indicate a serious issue with the unit. Some PTACs are designed with safeguards so they won’t operate in case of a problem. 

Possible causes

  • Tripped fuse
  • Water damage inside the unit
  • Damage to wiring or electronic components


✔ Clean the vents. A blocked or clogged vent prevents heat distribution and can cause the circuit breaker to trip.

✔ Check the interior for water or ice formation.

✔ If the unit still doesn’t turn on, unplug the PTAC and call for an HVAC technician.

At Total Home Supply, our huge selection of PTAC units come from top brands, and are backed up with industry-leading warranties. We also offer expert advice from our long years in the HVAC industry, so we can help you sort out any PTAC issues.

Browse our related articles on PTAC troubleshooting:

How to Replace a PTAC Unit

How to do a Manual Reset on an Amana PTAC Unit

Amana PTAC Maintenance & Cleaning: A Reference Guide

Mickey Luongo

Mickey is the resident heating and air conditioning expert with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

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