Your air conditioner works hard to keep your home cool. Unfortunately, this hard work can sometimes lead to problems. When an air conditioner is struggling to provide the coolness level you want, it may end up overheating and breaking down. Overheating typically happens when something puts too much stress on your AC’s components. It is almost always preventable. Here are some ways you can help your AC unit stay cool even on the hottest of days.
Watch Out for Refrigerant Leaks
Without enough refrigerant to cool air, your AC unit will keep running and running for hours. Normally, the refrigerant is not typically used up during the AC unit’s daily operation. The only way you get low refrigerant is usually from a leak. There are a few things you can do to identify refrigerant leaks.
Here are some symptoms:
- It takes longer to cool your home.
- Your outside unit has ice on it.
- Your home is warm no matter how long the AC runs.
- There are strange hissing noises coming from your unit.
- Your electric bill is higher than usual.
If you notice any of these signs, call Summit Heating & A/C as soon as possible.
Pay Attention to Electrical Problems
Have you ever had your AC shut off due to a tripped circuit breaker? In this situation, many people just shrug, assume there was a glitch, and flip the breaker back on. However, you need to be proactive and pay attention to this problem. It is a sign that something is not working right in your system. When an air conditioner overheats, it is set up to automatically trip the breaker. This is a failsafe that keeps your machine from continuing to overheat. Ignoring it and running the AC anyway can end up permanently damaging the unit.
Keep Your Condenser Coils Clean
The condenser coils are the narrow rows of coils set into the outdoor unit of your AC. They help to dispel heat away from the house. However, their position outside makes it easy for them to get dirty or covered by plants. When the coils cannot dispel heat, the AC has to run longer to cool the air. If this problem keeps up, it can eventually overheat. Fortunately, keeping coils clean is easy. All you usually have to do is trim away plants from the area and wash them with a hose once a year. You can also use a coil cleaner and a brush to gently scrub away dust. During your annual maintenance, your technician may also use a chemical cleaner to remove corrosion or another buildup.
Get the Right Size of AC
If you are considering getting a new air conditioning unit, it is important to select the perfect size for your home. An AC that is too small will run constantly, which can eventually lead to overheating. Too large of an AC is also a problem. A big system will constantly turn on for a minute, blast your home with cold air, and shut off. The constant cycling on and off can put added stress on your components. You can estimate the size of the unit you need based on your square footage.
However, many other things also impact AC size, including:
- Your local climate
- The number of residents in your home
- The number of floors in your home
- The type of system you want
- Your home’s insulation
- Ductwork designs in your home
- The amount of shade or sun
Therefore, it is important to get help from professionals when picking out a new system.
Change Your Filters Regularly
One of the most common reasons air conditioners overheat is also one of the simplest things to prevent. The big filters that go over the intake area for your AC unit trap hair, dust, and dirt before it can fly into your system. When a filter gets too dirty, it starts letting all this debris get sucked into your system. Then the dirt coats the inside of your AC unit, making it harder for it to cool air. To keep this from happening, you need to change your filter as recommended. Depending on your filter type, this can be anywhere from one to six months. If you have pets, you will need to change the filter more often to help handle all the hair.
Remove Buildup From Fan Blades
Even if you change your filters regularly, an older AC unit will eventually get some dust on fan blades. Depending on the type of system you have, you will have one or more fans to move air around. Eventually, dirt and dust start to collect on these moving parts. This adds excess weight to the fans, requiring more energy to move them. Therefore, it is important to make time to clean these blades. You can do it yourself by turning off your machine and accessing the parts. However, some units may have fans in hard-to-reach places. In these cases, you can just schedule a maintenance visit and have a professional clean them.
Add Some Shade for Your Unit
In some cases, the cause of an overheating unit is actually direct heat on the unit itself. Generally, AC technicians advise placing your outside unit on the east side away from the hot afternoon sun. However, this is not possible in all areas. If your unit gets direct sunlight from around noon to four, it can heat up a lot. This added heat keeps your unit from having a place to dump excess heat. Instead, it stays inside the system and makes your AC overheat. To solve this problem, you just need to give your unit a little shade. Plant a tree or shrub by the unit, or add a trellis, vine, or fence. Just make sure it is at least two feet from your unit, so your airflow does not end up blocked.
Don’t Run a Broken Unit
There are all sorts of little AC problems that cause issues but do not entirely stop the machine. In these cases, many people decide to keep the unit on until it is repaired. However, delaying repairs and continuing to use a faulty machine can just cause larger problems. As your machine struggles to compensate for things like iced over coils, it will run harder and harder. This will make the machine overheat. In some cases, it can even end up causing permanent damage to your system. Therefore, your best option when you notice a problem is to turn the AC off. Until a professional can look at it, you should give the broken machine a rest.
If your AC unit does overheat, Summit Heating & A/C can help find and fix the problem. We’re available for customers throughout Denver and Littleton. Our professional and experienced technicians can also provide regular AC maintenance and give you advice on preventing overheating. We repair, maintain, and install a variety of systems, including AC units, furnaces, heaters, heat pumps, and water heaters. Give us a call to schedule your next appointment.