Few situations are as exasperating as being trapped in a sweltering home while the outside temperatures continue to rise. When your air conditioner, the trusty guardian of indoor comfort, starts to falter, it’s time to take action. In this article, we will delve into the reasons why your AC might be struggling and provide practical solutions to help you resolve the issue.
Why Can’t Your AC Keep Up With The Heat?
Before you jump to the conclusion that your air conditioner is the root of the problem, consider that there are several factors that may contribute to its inability to cool your home effectively. Neglected routine maintenance, subpar house insulation, and excessive solar heat entering your living space could all be culprits behind your AC’s underperformance.
In the scorching summer months, proper insulation is paramount to keeping the scalding air at bay and maintaining a refreshing indoor environment. Without adequate insulation, your home can develop air leaks, making it considerably harder for your AC to maintain a comfortable temperature. Unprotected or unsealed windows can exacerbate the issue, leading to heat buildup and inflated cooling expenses.
If your air conditioner seems to be losing the battle against the relentless heat, here are some steps you can take to diagnose the problem:
- Examine Your Air Filter
A clogged air filter can significantly hinder your air conditioner’s performance. It’s crucial to inspect and clean your filter on a regular basis, ideally every two weeks, to ensure efficient cooling.
Here’s how you can clean your AC filter:
- Turn off your air conditioner to prevent the circulation of unclean air in your living space.
- Remove the filter. Some AC systems may have multiple filters, so make sure to inspect all of them.
- Use a handheld vacuum to eliminate debris and dust from the filter’s frame. Wipe away any remaining dust with a microfiber towel.
- Gently rinse the filter in a deep sink or outdoors with a hose and allow it to dry.
- Inspect the dry filter for signs of wear and tear, such as holes or tears. If it’s in good condition, reinsert it, and keep track of the replacement date if it’s nearing the end of its lifespan.
2. Adjust the Thermostat Setting
Lowering the thermostat setting won’t cool your home more quickly. In reality, it will make your AC work harder, resulting in increased energy consumption and higher operating costs. It’s better to set your thermostat to a comfortable but not excessively cold temperature.
- Examine Your Condenser Coils
The condenser unit located outside your home plays a pivotal role in the cooling process. It works to extract heat from the air, thus lowering the indoor temperature. Clogged condenser coils can hinder this process, so it’s essential to maintain a regular cleaning schedule to prevent recurrent problems.
- Look for Refrigerant Leaks
Maintaining a consistent refrigerant level is essential for your air conditioner to function properly. When refrigerant leaks occur along the lines, your AC will lose its cooling capacity and, over time, sustain damage to its internal components.
- Check for Ductwork Leaks
Sometimes, the issue may not stem from the air conditioner itself, but from leaks in the ventilation system’s ductwork. Leaky ducts allow cooled air to escape while permitting hot, humid air to infiltrate, leading to less effective cooling and increased energy wastage.
Factors To Consider
If the troubleshooting steps outlined above don’t alleviate the problem, consider the following factors:
- The Right AC Size
Selecting an air conditioner with the appropriate cooling capacity for your home’s square footage is crucial. An undersized AC will struggle to cool your space, while an oversized one can lead to inefficiency and higher operating costs.
- Aging AC Unit
If your air conditioner is over 15 years old, it may no longer be cost-effective or efficient to repair. Consulting HVAC professionals and contemplating a replacement might be a more sensible choice.
- Attic Insulation
Adequate insulation in your attic can serve as a formidable barrier against radiant heat, preventing it from infiltrating the conditioned areas of your home. This not only eases the workload on your AC but also helps maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Window Coverings
Employing window coverings such as awnings, curtains, drapes, and shades can significantly reduce the heat entering your home and subsequently lower your cooling expenses.
- Awnings can slash solar heat intake by up to 65% on south-facing windows and an impressive 77% on west-facing ones.
- Medium-colored drapes with white-plastic backings can curtail heat gains by 33%.
- Well-positioned window shades prove to be an effective energy-saving strategy, especially when left drawn throughout the day. Reversible shades have the ability to either reflect or absorb heat, depending on the season.
5. Geographical Location
Your location and the local temperatures play a pivotal role in determining the SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) your air conditioner should possess. A higher SEER number indicates better cooling efficiency.
When your air conditioner appears to be struggling against the relentless heat, professional attention may be necessary. Many technical issues with your AC are beyond the scope of DIY solutions. Regular maintenance can extend your AC unit’s lifespan and potentially prevent expensive replacements. By addressing the underlying issues and taking the factors mentioned into account, you can ensure that your home remains cool and comfortable, even during the most scorching summer days.