Does turning up your air conditioner have little to no effect? That’s not cool at all. It’s a big problem on uncomfortably hot days.
You probably paid decent money for central AC to take your heat and humidity worries away, so why is your air conditioner not cooling your house?
Here are a few ideas to help you troubleshoot why you’re not getting the best performance from your home cooling system. We’ll give you a list of possible small issues that you can fix yourself, and signs to look for that indicate it’s time to call in an AC professional to fix the problem.
Why Is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling My House?
Dirty air filters
First, let’s start with the small stuff. Your problem could be as simple as dirty air filters. If your air filters are clogged with dust and dirt, the air won’t be able to move through them easily. This can lead to a less effective HVAC system and higher energy bills.
The rule of thumb is to replace your air filters every 90 days or so. If you have pets that shed or people with asthma or other allergies in your home, change your filters even more often. Pet hair can cause dust to build up faster, and people with allergies and asthma are more sensitive to dust particles.
You can replace air filters yourself. If you can see that the filter has a layer of dust covering the filter material itself, you’ll know it’s time to replace it.1
Blocked condenser unit
Another possibility is that the outside unit vent for your air conditioner is blocked. The part of your air conditioner that’s outside is known as the condenser unit. It’s where your air conditioner sends hot air it collects from inside your house.
Since you want to make it easy for the hot air to escape, make sure your condenser unit is clean and not blocked by anything.
Here are some simple steps for cleaning an AC condenser unit.2
- Turn off the power to the air conditioner, both from the breaker box inside your house and from the outside.
- Remove the fan cage from the top of the unit using a screwdriver or wrench.
- Remove dead leaves and other debris from inside the fan unit using your hands or a Shop-Vac.
- Remove the outer covers and vacuum up any dirt you see with the brush attachments.
- Gently spray the fins from the inside of the unit with a garden hose. Don’t use a pressure washer as it can damage or bend the fins.
- If the fins still look dirty, use a fin cleaning spray from your local hardware store
- Gently straighten any bent fins using a butter knife.
- Rake leaves away and remove any tall grass, shrubs, or other debris blocking the vents.
Once you’ve followed these steps, put your unit back together, turn the power back on, and give it a test.
If your air conditioner is cooling your home better now, congrats! If not, the problem might need professional attention.
When to Call an Air Conditioner Professional
One of the problems that could be causing your lackluster air conditioning performance is low refrigerant. This isn’t something you can take care of yourself, but you can look for signs.
Look for ice on the condenser unit outside and listen for a hissing noise somewhere along the refrigerant line.3
Frozen evaporator coils
Another thing to look for is frozen evaporator coils on the inside unit. This can happen because of low refrigerant or because the outside condenser unit is blocked.
If you see that your evaporator coils are frozen, turn off the air conditioner and call a professional. Running the AC with frozen coils can cause more damage.4
Another reason your air conditioner isn’t cooling your house could be that an HVAC air duct is leaking.
Calling a professional to thoroughly inspect the ductwork will get much better results than searching for a duct leak yourself.
This is one thing that you probably won’t be able to diagnose yourself. There might not be any obvious signs other than that you’re not getting the performance you want from your air conditioning.
Other Possible AC Problems
If you just recently had your air conditioner installed, it’s possible that it was improperly installed. Call a professional out to see if this is the case, and make adjustments.
One last troubleshooting tip is to check if your AC unit is too small for your home. This could be another reason that a recently installed unit isn’t up to snuff. Reach out to a pro for evaluation and read up on how to get the right sized air conditioner for your home here.