What To Do When Your Air Conditioner Isn’t Cooling Properly

In today’s world, summertime temperatures can often soar to 100 plus degrees Fahrenheit. Heat indices can enter the range of 105 and higher, which can be dangerous for humans and pets. Air conditioning is commonly used to help mitigate these conditions in our homes and businesses. However, problems can arise that prevent units from providing adequate cooling. This is why everyone should know what to do when your air conditioner isn’t cooling properly.

No less than 90 percent of the air moved by most AC units comes directly from the space being cooled. Outside air is only introduced in small amounts as needed to make up for air lost through leaks around windows and doors. The inside air is filtered as it enters the AC system.

If the unit isn’t cooling properly, one of the first things to check is the filter on the return air side. This is usually found in the return air vent itself, though it can be located farther up in a system, just before the air reaches the evaporator. Filters should be replaced at least once a month as a rule, though, in some environments, this may need to be more often. A dirty filter will keep the unit from pulling in enough air from inside, forcing it to pick up more, hotter air from outside.

Another good idea is to take a look at the condenser coil located outside the building. This part of the cooling system looks a lot like a car radiator in that it has a copper line weaving back and forth through it surrounded by aluminum fins through which air moves. The refrigerant for the system runs through this in order to give up its heat to the outside atmosphere. However, if the system runs continuously for an extended time, the refrigerant may release so much heat that it becomes cold and freezes water out of the outside atmosphere.

If this happens, the normal option is to turn off the system temporarily and allow the system to thaw. Once the ice has all melted and run off the coil, normal operation can be resumed. Any type of fan that will blow moving air across the coil will expedite this process so the unit can be reactivated sooner.

The normal causes of this type of problem are someone having the thermostat set to too low a temperature so that the unit runs continuously or the system being low on refrigerant. The first case is a simple one that the homeowner can fix just be adjusting the thermostat.

The second case will require a service technician to examine the system and find the leak, make the necessary repair, and recharge the system with additional refrigerant to bring it back to the correct level. This entire process can normally be handled in one service call.

Increasing the circulation of air inside the home or business with fans can help make the system provide better cooling. Moving air also feels cooler to human skin than the same air standing still. This means that not as much cooling will be required to reach the same level of comfort.

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