It may not ever get as blistering hot in our area as it does other parts of the country, but that doesn’t mean we don’t get significant use out of our air conditioners each summer. Chances are by now that you’re using yours on a daily basis, and in doing so, you expect it to work effectively and efficiently as possible.
Of course, you can help ensure this is the case by scheduling routine maintenance once a year—twice a year if you have a heat pump. Professional maintenance allows our team to thoroughly inspect your system for any small repair needs, adjust components, and clean the system for optimal efficiency.
But no matter how well you take care of your system, there’s always a chance that something can go amiss. This is particularly true if you have an aging air conditioner! One of the most common calls we get regarding AC repair emergencies is about an air conditioner that won’t cool—a very obviously frustrating problem!
What’s going on when this occurs? We have 3 possible answers for you:
1: Incorrect Thermostat Settings
Alright, bear with us here. Are you sure your thermostat is in cooling mode? Also, are you sure that it’s actually set to your desired temperature? There is always a possibility that someone accidentally (or hey, purposefully if they have different preferences than you) set your thermostat to a different temperature.
Check your thermostat first. Check too that it’s not in “fan only” mode, as all this does is move air—it doesn’t actually cool the air. If you’ve done your due diligence and the thermostat settings are fine, it’s time for step 2.
2: Tripped Circuit Breaker
“Wait, wouldn’t I notice this right away? My air conditioner won’t even turn on if the circuit breaker trips, right?”
Not so fast. True, if the circuit breaker to the indoor unit of your air conditioner trips, the fan won’t turn on at all.
But, if the circuit breaker to the outdoor unit of your AC trips, the indoor fan and other components will still run. However, you won’t feel any cooling, as the compressor outside isn’t running. Be sure to check to see if any circuits in your breaker panel have tripped. Reset any that have, and see if this solves your air conditioning problem. If it does, great! However, be aware that if this continues to happen, it is a sign that something is either amiss with your AC or you are possibly due for an electrical panel upgrade.
3. Leaking Refrigerant
Here’s where we get into more serious air conditioning problems that absolutely require the assistance of a pro. An incorrectly set thermostat or tripped circuit breaker is an easy fix, but refrigerant leaks can be quite hazardous.
Refrigerant doesn’t run out, like gasoline does from a car. Your air conditioner is designed to cycle the same amount of refrigerant throughout its entire 10-15 year lifespan. So if you’re losing refrigerant, it means that you’re experiencing a leak. The leak must be located and repaired, and the refrigerant must be refilled—called recharged in the HVAC industry.
When refrigerant levels drop too low, your air conditioner loses its ability to cool, and the compressor is put in danger of getting stuck, overheating and/or burning out. This is a big repair and often a reason to replace the entire air conditioner, even if its years before its expected lifespan.
Refrigerant leaks can often be detected by a hissing or bubbling noise, as well as low cooling output. This is why when you do feel less cooling than you think you should, you need to act fast.