Air conditioning is simultaneously one of the most significant and most underrated conveniences of modern living. If you live in a climate with warm summers, then coming home to a cool house can be a fantastic luxury. Sadly, air conditioners sometimes seem to fail when they're needed the most, and that can include sudden and brutally hot heatwaves.
If your home isn't as comfortable as you'd like, then there are several potential causes to consider. These three common issues can result in an air conditioner that seems to be struggling with hot temperatures.
1. Unrealistic Expectations
Unfortunately, air conditioners aren't magical devices. Your home's AC system cools the house by transporting heat into the ambient. This method of operation is efficient, but it does have limitations. Your outdoor condenser unit must be able to release heat into the environment, and the refrigerant must be capable of absorbing and carrying that heat from the inside of your home.
You can expect your air conditioner to reduce your home's ambient interior temperature by about 20 degrees, although this number won't be exact. If 20 degrees still isn't cool enough, consider finding ways to reduce the amount of energy entering your home, such as installing blackout curtains or adding more insulation.
2. Airflow Restrictions
Any airflow restriction will do more than just reduce the amount of cold air blowing from your vents. Too little airflow places a strain on your blower unit, which in turn can decrease how quickly cold air moves away from the evaporator coils. Over time, this situation can cause your evaporator coils to freeze, creating a barrier that will reduce their ability to absorb heat.
In almost all cases, airflow restrictions stem from a dirty filter. Replace your filter, and the problem may resolve itself. More severe potential causes include a faulty blower motor or issues with your ductwork. Kinks in flexible ductwork or air leaks can impact overall airflow through the system, reducing cooling efficiently and potentially causing wear on other components.
3. Improper Refrigerant Levels
Your cooling system can't function without reasonably exact refrigerant pressure levels. Too much or too little pressure reduces system efficiency and may even cause overcooling. In these cases, you may experience similar symptoms to an airflow restriction. For example, your air conditioner may cycle too quickly, or the evaporator may freeze over, allowing warm, humid air to enter your vents.
A well-maintained air conditioning system should keep your home relatively cool even through dangerous heatwaves. However, if you've set your thermostat to a reasonable level and still can't get cool air, then it's time to call in a professional to diagnose and repair your system. To get started fixing your cooling system, check out local HVAC services.