It’s one of the worst feelings on a sweltering hot day – you turn your air conditioner on high, expecting a refreshing blast of cool air, only to realize your AC is not cooling properly. Instead of the crisp, chilled air you’re hoping for, you get warm, stale air blowing out of the vents. A non-functioning AC unit can quickly make homes or offices uncomfortable, or even dangerous, in extreme Texas heat.
Before calling in HVAC professionals, there are a few troubleshooting tips you can try yourself to get your AC back to blowing cold again. Read on for common reasons your air conditioner may not be cooling and steps you can take to try fixing the issue on your own.
Check Air Filter
One of the easiest potential solutions to an AC not cooling is to check the unit’s air filter. If the filter is clogged with dust, dirt, pet hair and other debris, airflow will be restricted. Poor airflow impedes the cooling capabilities. Turn off your AC unit and remove the filter. If it looks extremely dirty, vacuum it out gently. You may also try rinsing it under lukewarm water if needed. Insert the freshly cleaned or new filter, then turn your AC back on to see if cooling performance improves.
Check for Frozen Coils
Another common culprit for reduced AC cooling is frozen condenser coils. The condenser coils contain refrigerant and when operating normally dissipate heat. However, under certain conditions like low refrigerant levels or dirty filters, condenser coils can start to freeze over. A thick buildup of ice on the coils blocks proper airflow and prevents cooling. Turn your AC unit off and inspect the outdoor condenser unit coils. If they are frosted or encrusted with ice, allow them time to thaw completely before attempting to turn your AC back on.
Straighten Bent Condenser Fins
For efficient operation, condenser coils rely on thin, closely spaced metal fins to maximize heat transfer. Over time through weather damage or wear and tear, these fins can become bent out of shape and misaligned. Much like a dirty filter, bent fins block proper airflow and make it harder for hot air to dissipate. Carefully straighten any arched condenser fins using a small flathead screwdriver or fin comb.
Check Refrigerant Levels
If your AC unit’s refrigerant level drops too low, it loses its ability to effectively cool air. Tiny refrigerant leaks over months or years are the most common cause of low refrigerant. Have an HVAC technician perform a thorough refrigerant leak test on your AC system. They can then top it off with additional refrigerant if needed. A quick spritz of DIY refrigerant sold at many hardware stores can offer a temporary cooling boost, but call the pros to truly fix any underlying refrigerant leaks.
Look For Electrical Problems
Faulty electrical connections, wiring issues, blown fuses or tripped breakers can all cause AC cooling failures. Check your indoor AC unit and listen for any buzzing or humming coming from the control panel. Also inspect the outdoor compressor unit for damaged wires and listen for unusual sounds when the AC turns on. Ensure all circuit breakers supplying power to your AC are switched on. Reset any tripped breakers or replace blown fuses. If you suspect larger electrical issues, call an HVAC technician immediately.
Clean Out Dirty Ductwork
Think air duct cleaning is a simple upsell? Think again – dirty ductwork actually does impede proper airflow through your AC system. Dust, pet dander and other particulates accumulate inside the ducts over time. Have your ducts professionally deep cleaned to remove built-up grime and optimize airflow again. Proper ductwork sealing can also help increase cooling efficiency.
Surprisingly, insufficient insulation in your home’s walls, attic and crawlspaces can hinder AC cooling capabilities and efficiency. Poor insulation allows cooled indoor air to escape and hot outdoor air to seep in. Perform an audit of your insulation needs, especially in older homes. Adding insulation helps your AC unit work less to maintain desired temperatures inside.
Check for Refrigerant Leaks
Refrigerant leaks in AC systems should be repaired as soon as possible. Low refrigerant levels make cooling nearly impossible. Technicians use sniffer devices and dye tests to check for leaks. They can then make necessary repairs and recharge the refrigerant. DIY refrigerant recharging kits are only a temporary fix until leaks are properly sealed. Repairing refrigerant leaks saves you money on costly refrigerant replacement.
Improve Air Circulation
Stagnant indoor air can prevent your AC system from properly cooling your home. Improve air circulation by adjusting ceiling fan settings to blow downward during AC use. Keep interior doors, vent covers and registers open so cooled air freely flows to all rooms. Strategically place fans to circulate air around closed off rooms or areas with poor airflow.
Replace Broken Parts
If your AC struggles to turn on, produces odd noises or doesn’t run properly, certain components may be broken or need replacing. Capacitors, fuses, blower motors, relays, and internal controls are most vulnerable to wear and tear over time. HVAC technicians can diagnose issues and replace any damaged parts. A new fan motor or blown capacitor can get your AC blowing cold again.
Before calling in costly repairs, try these DIY troubleshooting tips if your AC is not cooling properly. Simple filter changes, cleaning condenser coils, checking electrical issues and improving airflow can sometimes get your AC up and running again. But for suspected refrigerant leaks, difficult electrical problems, or required part replacements, rely on trained AC maintenance technicians to safely restore your AC unit’s cooling capabilities. Beat the Texas heat with a fully operational, energy-efficient air conditioner using regular troubleshooting and maintenance. Don’t endure another sweltering summer – get your AC back to properly cooling your home with these helpful tips.