If you’re faced with the prospect of installing or replacing an air conditioning unit, sticker shock alone could send you running for a six-pack of beer, which is why many homeowners breathe a sigh of relief when they learn that their current system can be repaired rather than replaced.
But first, a diagnosis is required why your AC unit is not cooling your House.
There are a surprising number of reasons your air conditioner may be acting like an arbitrary teen refusing to obey family rules.
In this article we will take you through a short list of potential causes, so whether your AC is acting up now or you just want to be prepared for what the future brings, you’ll be ready. Your teen’s behavior? Not so much!
Table of Contents
- Reason #1: Your thermostat may need replacing.
- Reason #2: Your compressor has decided to retire.
- Reason #3: Your HVAC system is too small.
- Reason #4: Mother Nature refuses to cooperate.
- Reason #5: There’s too much sun coming in.
- Reason #6: Your refrigerant is leaking.
- Reason #7: Your air filter is filthy.
- Reason #8: Your thermostat is set to “On” instead of “Auto”
Reason #1: Your thermostat may need replacing.
That little box sits silently on the wall and you probably don’t give it a thought until the room gets frigid or you are sweating like crazy.
Before you go into a full-blown panic, adjust the temperature reading by 5 degrees and see what happens. Next, make sure you didn’t accidentally set it on Heat or Cool when you want the opposite.
Check the circuit breakers and then make sure the HVAC system itself is powered on. If you know what you’re looking for, check for loose wires. If your system kicks in during the aforementioned processes, there’s a good chance your thermostat needs to be replaced.
Reason #2: Your compressor has decided to retire.
Even if you have no clue what a compressor looks like, you should know that this important component functions just like a human heart: if it’s not healthy, it won’t pump blood properly.
In the case of your AC, your refrigerant won’t be circulated if your compressor gives up the ghost. If you are fortunate enough to have your compressor under warrantee, you dodge a bullet. If not, well think of your contractor as the heart surgeon in charge of your transplant and take out your checkbook.
Reason #3: Your HVAC system is too small.
Sometimes, you don’t know that your AC problems are size-related because you bought the house and assumed it would work just fine.
But there are three signs that could indicate that the reason your home isn’t cooling down has to do with the unit’s size.
The most obvious one can be a heart stopper: Your power bill skyrockets but you’re not running your system more than usual.
Alternately, if you set your system for 79-degrees but the thermostat won’t budge, have a professional assuage your concern. Finally, long run cycles (half an hour or more) could mean that your system isn’t big enough to do the job, too.
Reason #4: Mother Nature refuses to cooperate.
It’s over 100-degrees outside and for one reason or another, your system simply refuses to supply the 62-degree air setting you demand.
Don’t blame your equipment. Blame the phenomenon of temperature stratification that kicks in during the day when the heat in a home rises. Heat rises, sticks around, gets trapped and has nowhere to go, no matter how low you set the thermostat.
Reason #5: There’s too much sun coming in.
Speaking of Mother Nature, the hot sun on a sultry afternoon that floods every room with light can do more to thwart your efforts to cool your home than the aforementioned sweltering temperatures outside.
According to Consumer Reports, hanging the right curtains can make a major change in everything from room temperatures to your power bills.
The U.S. Department of Energy says that window coverings can “reduce heat gain by up to 77 percent.” Awnings, drapes, shades, blinds and even reflective film can become your air conditioning system’s best friend and these remedies don’t cost a fortune.
Reason #6: Your refrigerant is leaking.
Every element of an HVAC system has its job and in the case of refrigerant, that task is to absorb heat from air, so the AC works efficiently.
Without a refrigerant recharge, all of that heat is incapable of delivering cool air. Fortunately, there are telltale signs that this is happening so you can diagnose it fast.
Do you hear bubbling or hissing noises? Do you spot ice build-up on either the refrigerant line or the unit itself? Another clue is that the system works just fine when temperatures drop.
Reason #7: Your air filter is filthy.
A dirty air filter is no minor issue because the more it’s clogged, the less airflow your system delivers. A dirty filter can have repercussions that go beyond temperature fluctuation: it can freeze your evaporator coil producing more ice than your freezer does or even fill up your home with dust.
Not every dirty filter bears the tell-tale, grey, “clogged-dust” look, but you can make an educated guess if your home is dustier than usual or if your air conditioner is cycling longer.
Homeowners eager to take this worry off their lists do the smart thing: they read manufacturer’s directions printed on the filters they buy and mark their calendars to replace filters on a regular schedule. If you smoke or have pets, schedule more frequent changes.
Reason #8: Your thermostat is set to “On” instead of “Auto”
Another reason your home isn’t cooling down. On the other hand, if you have a window unit, the first thing to do is to make sure that the plug hasn’t been pulled out of the wall. It’s okay to skip telling friends that either of these fixes proved to be the reason that your air conditioner wasn’t cooling your home and we promise not to say anything, either.
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