Managing Your HVAC System

3 Reasons A Heat Wave Is Overwhelming Your AC

If you feel like summers are getting hotter, then you're not alone. Extreme temperatures can test even the best HVAC systems, but it's still frustrating to come home to a warm house. Your home's air conditioner should help keep you comfortable during heat waves, but what should you do when your house just doesn't seem to cool down?

Although residential air conditioners do have limits, you shouldn't feel like you're living in a sauna even with the AC running. If you're following EPA recommendations for thermostat settings and your AC still runs constantly without ever hitting your setpoint, it might be due to one of these three potential failures.

1. Clogged Filter

Why is checking your filter the first piece of advice in most air-conditioning articles? The simple reason is that your filter can impact nearly all aspects of your home's HVAC system. Restricted airflow not only reduces air from your vents but also prevents air from moving over your evaporator coil. A scorching heatwave can exacerbate effects you might not notice otherwise.

When your AC runs constantly, your evaporator stays cold for longer. Without sufficient airflow, ice can form on the coils. Ice might sound like a great thing when temperatures are approaching triple digits, but it can act as an insulator over the evaporator. Not only does this prevent cooling, but it can also cause significant damage to your compressor.

2. Failing Compressor

If your system is relatively old (a decade or more), then your compressor may be on its way out. Many air conditioners last longer than this, but old systems may be more susceptible to significant wear. Remember that your runtime matters more than age, so high temperatures may cause more wear by forcing the compressor to operate on a longer duty cycle.

Avoid using your air conditioner if it's shutting down too quickly or you hear loud noises whenever the compressor engages. Always contact an experienced technician to help you repair these issues to avoid causing additional damage to expensive components.

3. Thermostat Problems

Without your thermostat, your air conditioner won't know when to run. Thermostat issues can cause your air conditioner to run too often or not enough and may leave your home with hot and cold spots. As with other issues, you may not notice a failing thermostat when temperatures are less severe. As it gets hotter outside, short cycling or other problems can prevent your AC from cooling your home.

Fortunately, thermostat issues are one of the more manageable and less expensive air-conditioning repairs. A technician can check your thermostats for proper operation and let you know if their placement may be impacting your system performance. Repairing these problems is a relatively cheap way to ensure that your system can keep up with even the most intense heat waves.