Is Your AC Really Not Cooling? Here's How to Check
If it's summertime and our office phone rings, there's a good chance the voice on the other end will say…
"My air conditioner isn't cooling my home."
We're in the AC-fixing business, so we're always happy to help! But in some cases, these calls are premature. It's possible that your air conditioner isn't working because of some small, easily fixable thing - like replacing your thermostat batteries or flipping the AC's disconnect switch.
In either instance, you probably won't need air conditioner repair. But how do you know when an issue with your AC does require professional intervention?
Before scheduling service, make sure the answer to all of these questions is "no."
There's a chance you can get your AC to run properly without paying us to do it for you! If you can answer "yes" to any of these questions, your air conditioner probably isn't broken.
Can you fix the problem yourself?
Check out our article about the most common reasons an AC quits working. Many issues are easy to resolve, such as:
- Replacing thermostat batteries
Flipping the indoor or outdoor disconnect switch
- Resetting a circuit breaker
When you can't resolve the problem yourself, you might need professional service.
Is the filter overdue for replacement?
Really dirty air filters block airflow and prevent the system from transferring heat to the refrigerant. The result? Frozen, ice-covered indoor and outdoor coils and an AC that doesn't blow cold air into your home.
If the filter is really dirty, replace it. Then run the system's fan with the AC off for a few hours to see if the ice melts. After it melts, you can turn the AC back on.
Keep in mind that if you replace the filter and any ice on the coil doesn't melt by the end of the day, you almost certainly do need service! You might have a refrigerant leak, which is a potentially serious problem.
Does the AC drop the temperature at least 16 degrees?
Let your AC run for ten minutes or so. Then, before it shuts off, stick a thermometer in a supply vent. Note the temperature. Then stick the thermometer in your return vent. Write down that temperature, too.
Is the difference between 18 and 20, give or take a couple of degrees? If so, you're in the clear.
You might just be uncomfortable because it's a hot day. Or because of the high humidity. But if the difference is less than 16 degrees, you might have a problem with your air conditioner.
Is the outdoor unit blowing hot air from the top?
If your thermostat is set to "cool" and the temperature is set lower than the current temperature inside your home, the outdoor unit should be running. It should also be blowing hot air out of the top.
Go outside and check. If nothing's happening, you probably need service.
Check the refrigerant line set. Is it cold and sweating?
Go outside and look for an insulated copper pipe running from your outdoor AC unit to your home. There's refrigerant inside, and it should be really cold during the summer. When you touch the copper (some will be exposed between the insulation and the unit), it should feel cold. It should also have condensation on the outside.
If the line set is cold and sweating, your AC is cooling. If not, your AC isn't working properly.
Is the condensate pipe dripping?
A properly functioning AC removes a lot of humidity from your home. Any time it runs, you'll see water dripping from the PVC condensate pipe on the outside of your home.
When the AC is running and the pipe isn't dripping, you may have a problem.
Note that if you have a condensate pump, water won't drip from the pipe. Instead, it will shoot out in periodic bursts. If you're not experiencing these bursts, the AC might not be working.
Did we just save you from a service call? If so, hooray! But if not…
Give us a call or request service online! We're active all across Metro Atlanta and are more than happy to check out your AC, diagnose the problem, and apply the best possible fix.