One of the most dreaded things that can happen during a hot summer day is having the air conditioner break. When your air conditioner is working properly to cool your home, it’s something you hardly notice. But when it stops blowing cold air and experiences a cooling problem, suddenly the AC unit is the only thing you notice and can think about.
Air conditioning systems need to be serviced and maintained on a regular schedule to ensure that they work efficiently. Debris and dust trapped inside the drain, or a dirty air filter can block air and prevent cool air from entering the house. At Enercell Air Conditioning, we’ve seen our fair share of faulty air conditioning systems. If your room temperature seems a bit too hot despite how the thermostat is set, there could be several reasons why your air conditioner is not cooling.
Before you can troubleshoot a faulty air conditioner, it’s important to understand how the system works in the first place. AC units and refrigerators work almost identically, except your fridge cools a small, closed area, whereas your air conditioner cools an entire home, office, or building. The ductwork through the building is the means by which the cool air travels throughout the home or office.
The AC unit uses a refrigerant that converts from a gas to a liquid and back again to cool the air in the house. An air conditioning system is made up of three main parts – the condenser, the evaporator, and the compressor. The outdoor unit houses the compressor and the condenser. Inside, you’ll find the evaporator.
The refrigerant inside the compressor is in the form of a low-pressure gas. The compressor moves the gas until the molecules in it are packed tightly together to form a liquid. The closer the compressor pushes the gas molecules together, the more the temperature and energy will increase inside the unit.
The refrigerant leaves the compressor in the form of a high-pressure, hot gas. The outside unit has metal fins that work like a radiator, and they help to disperse the heat of the gas. Once the refrigerant leaves the condenser, it is a lot cooler and is a liquid, not a gas. From there, it moves to the evaporator part of the AC system. Once the liquid reaches the evaporator, the pressure drops, and then it starts to evaporate back into a gas form.
When the liquid evaporates into a gas, heat is pulled from the air. The heat separates the liquid molecules into gas. The evaporator coils exchange thermal energy with the surrounding air, which also helps to decrease the temperature. During this part of the process, there is a fan connected to the evaporator, that helps circulate air from inside the building and move it across the metal fins.
The refrigerant makes its way out of the evaporator as a low-pressure, cool gas once more, and the process begins anew when the refrigerant enters the compressor again. The whole time the refrigerant is making its journey through the AC system, ductwork is pulling in warm air from the building, and blowing it back out as cool air.
The refrigerant will continue to circulate and go through this process over and over until the air inside the building reaches the desired temperature set on the thermostat. Once the temperature is reached, the air conditioner will turn off. As soon as the thermostat senses a rise in temperature, the AC unit will kick back on and begin the process until the building is sufficiently cooled.
As you can see, a lot can go wrong during this process. The AC unit needs continuous and free air flow to work correctly. Clogged condenser coils, broken fan motors, dirty air filters, or even a faulty thermostat or circuit breaker can cause the AC to stop working. Low refrigerant levels can also be a significant source of problems. If your house seems hotter than you’d like it to be, take these AC unit troubleshooting steps:
The thermostat will signal when it’s time to turn on or off the AC. If the thermostat isn’t working, your AC can’t function correctly either.
Leaving an air filter in the AC unit for too long will cause it to get dirty with dust and debris. If you haven’t changed the air filter for a long time, this might be the issue. Fortunately, it’s a low-cost and straightforward fix.
Condensers can get dirty if they aren’t adequately serviced and maintained. Condenser coils should be cleaned once a year so your AC unit can keep cooling your home.
Other possible problems are refrigerant leaks, low refrigerant levels, or even a broken compressor. At Enercell Air Conditioning, we carry air conditioning parts for a variety of brands and companies.