There are lots of reasons an air conditioner might not keep up with the summer heat in the Carolinas. Is there ever a time when it’s too hot for your AC to keep up? There might be an issue with your AC that calls for an expert professional and technical repair. Often though, the issue may be preventable through how we use or care for the AC or HVAC system. There may be suggestions to try before calling a technician, or better yet, before the AC has a problem at all. Here are some reasons your AC isn’t keeping up with the heat.
Stopping the Problem Before it’s a Problem
Check the Thermostat
On a hot summer day – say 85-98 degrees – it’s a good idea to turn the thermostat up a little before being out of the house all or most of the day. Do not turn it up more than 84 degrees. You will save energy by doing this. The AC won’t have to work as hard as it would set from 75-80.
On very hot days – 98 or over – it is best to keep your AC thermostat set to the normal temperature all day. When it’s very hot, the unit needs to run to keep up. If you expect to turn it down when you get home, and
have the AC make up the difference when it’s still hot even in the evening, you might not get the best results. You will not save power, money or time by turning the thermostat up a few degrees and then trying to get the whole house cooler later.
Is Your House a Greenhouse?
Solar heat gets into a home or building through windows, most particularly through south or west facing windows. Most of the time, we want our homes to be bright and have sunlight. During the hot times of the year, think about it. If you have or can put up and use blinds, shade screens or curtains in some rooms, it may keep it cooler and save the AC some. If you’re gone, or have rooms you very rarely use, try to keep rooms in the shade instead of the sunlight.
Why the AC Fails in the Heat
The “I think my AC needs Freon” call is pretty common. This isn’t exactly the case very often. Newer units and systems do not run on Freon (R-22), most run on R-410a nowadays. While refrigerant never breaks or vaporizes, a refrigerant leak can cause an air conditioning unit to be unable to run effectively and it will quit working completely.
Overheating Motor or Compressor
A broken or overheating fan motor or compressor can make the whole unit be inefficient or fail. The unit may be able to run, then shut down when it overheats. When this takes place, it can be difficult to catch since the system works sometimes, and sometimes doesn’t. The temperature in the house may stay too high most of the time.
An AC unit doesn’t actually make cold air. It gets rid of heat from the air reducing the temperature level. The outdoor unit referred to as the condenser is where this magic occurs. If the exterior condenser coils are blocked with dust and particles the system can’t remove heat from the air.
Evaporator coils, known as the indoor coil, have to be clean for air to pass throughout the coils openly. When these coils are clogged with dirt, it creates problems. When you stick your hand near an air vent and feel no airflow, this is frequently the culprit.
Refrigerant issues and malfunctioning metering devices can have comparable symptoms so an experienced heating and cooling specialist knows to look closer before saying it’s just the meter. That said however, a damaged metering device can cause the AC to not run right.
How Your Home Might Hurt Your AC
Poor or No Attic Insulation
Heat moves from hot air to cooler air. The higher the temperature level difference the faster it relocates. When you think about that your attic can be about 30-40 degrees hotter than the outside air, on a 100-degree summer season day in Charlotte, your attic is about 130-140 degrees. Without a proper “thermal border” between your attic and the air conditioned part of your home, that heat will go from the attic into your air conditioned rooms. The higher the “R-Value” (Resistance Value) of your attic insulation, the greater the resistance to warmth moving through it.
Leaking air ducts are more common than many people think. We find major air duct leakage in all types and all ages of homes. The reason this can prevent an AC from not keeping up with the summer heat is easy to see.
What About High Humidity?
Not only is high humidity uncomfortable, it can lead to poor indoor air quality. Humidity is an environment for mold and fungal growth. Your AC dehumidifies as it cools, but a number of factors may make this inefficient. A poorly ventilated house, high humidity outside, and dirty or old air filters are some common factors making an AC system unable to give you the proper humidity and temperature.
You may notice your AC runs all day and you feel fine standing right near a vent but the rest of the house stays too warm. If you feel sticky or humid too, it’s a sign you need to ask for advice or help with dehumidification steps in your house. Getting a dehumidifier or investing in a new HVAC system with better dehumidifying capacities are two options you may consider.
At South End Heating and Air we are Charlotte’s affordable AC experts. Call us anytime for a free consult and free estimate. We’ll evaluate your system and help make recommendations for optimum value. After all, we want to keep you cool all summer long and warm in the winter. Just schedule a visit with one of our technicians to talk about how we can help. Would you like to learn more options our techs can help you with? Give us a call 704-684-5339.