Common Air Conditioner Problems: Inadequate Cooling and Airflow

April 22, 2016

Des Moines homeowners: We’re launching a two-part blog series addressing common air conditioner problems. Most of these problems are easy, quick, inexpensive fixes. Some, however, may require a professional HVAC technician to diagnose and repair. Try out the tips in this article, and if you still experience issues, feel free to give us a call!

Home Doesn’t Feel as Comfortable

If you feel like your home isn’t as comfortable as it was last year, the most likely cause is limited airflow. The first thing to do is to check the air filter. If the air filter is dirty, replace it. How often you should change your air filter depends on the filter type, how many people live in your home, if you have any pets, and if anyone in your home has allergies.

Double check the outdoor unit to ensure there are no leaves, sticks, or other obstructions that could restrict the airflow. Plan for at least two feet of clearance on the sides of the unit and five feet of clearance on top. Remember to make sure your home’s cold air returns and registers are clear from blockages as well.

Air Conditioner Runs but Doesn’t Cool

There could be several causes for an air conditioner that runs but doesn’t cool your home properly. The first place to start is your thermostat. Try lowering it five degrees and make sure it is set and reading the temperature accurately. If the thermostat is functioning, take a look at the air filter and your unit’s drain. Replace the filter if it’s dirty and make sure the drain isn’t clogged.

Other causes for a system that doesn’t cool adequately may need to be addressed by a professional technician. Your refrigerant may be low or leaking, in which case an HVAC contractor will repair the system or recharge the refrigerant. Otherwise, the condenser may be faulty and will have to be repaired or replaced.

Unit Doesn’t Cool the Home Enough

Again, you’ll want to start by checking your thermostat. If it appears to be functioning properly, try lowering it a few degrees to see if that cools your home enough. Once you determine your thermostat is running properly, even when set at a lower temperature, you’ll want to check the evaporator. A dirty evaporator can inhibit your air conditioner from cooling your home completely. Use caution when cleaning the evaporator, and then allow your unit to run for a few hours. If the problem persists, call a technician. You may even have an improperly sized unit for the square footage of your home.

Air Isn’t Circulating as Strongly

A clogged filter is the most likely reason air isn’t circulating as strongly throughout your home. Dirty filters reduce the air conditioner’s efficiency and ability to cool the air. If you experience issues after replacing the filter, your ducts could be leaking air or clogged, causing the restricted airflow. Ductwork problems require professional expertise to properly clean and seal. Talk to a technician before attempting any ductwork maintenance yourself.

Check back in a few weeks for the second part of our Common Air Conditioner Problems series. And if you’ve ever wondered why your furnace is leaking water, read about what may be the cause!