It’s the middle of the summer. The temperature outside is somewhere in the 90s and the humidity certainly isn’t making things any cooler. That’s when your air conditioner suddenly goes kaput.
This is an absolutely horrifying scenario to imagine. Having to sweat through the day with your AC system now shut down? No way. So what happened that may have led the unit to shut down? There are a few things that may have led to issues that have your AC system stalling.
Dirty Air Filters
If you find your air conditioner shutting down, one of the leading causes could be a dirty air filter. The air filter is the safety net that protects your household from dirt, grime, and pollutants. However, it becomes next to useless if it is caked in crud. Dirty air filters block airflow in your home’s air ducts, forcing your unit to run longer and harder. This can cause an air conditioner to overheat, tripping your circuit breaker, or just break down altogether.
Clogged air filters can also force the blower fan inside an air conditioner to work overtime, expending a needless amount of energy that will hurt your wallet when it comes time to pay the electric bill. This can also cause the evaporator coil, or cooling coil, to freeze up, leaving the AC system unable to reduce condensation.
Regular maintenance can help prevent this from happening. HVAC technicians recommend that homeowners change their air filters once a month to keep clean cool air from flowing in. This chore is among just 4 easy ways to keep your house in tip top shape.
Dirty Condenser Coils
Much like air filters, dirty condenser coils can leave your AC unit running longer, leading it to overheat. Condenser coils are refrigerant filled tubes that run your air conditioner’s the outside unit. A standard AC system has both an outdoor and indoor unit. The inside unit uses refrigerant to absorb the heat in your indoor air and cool it down. That hot liquid flows to the outside unit where it is released out into the world.
However, dirt on the coils prevents that refrigerant from releasing the heat, as dirt acts as an insulator. The refrigerant can’t absorb additional heat, creating an airflow issue that causes your air conditioner to blow out warm air. The unit is, of course, trying to crank out cold air, but you are instinctually turning the thermostat lower for it to get chilly. This can actually lead to the AC system overheating.
It is important to keep your outside unit clean. This requires a special coil cleaning spray, as suggested by the air conditioner’s manufacturer. First, homeowners should hose down the outer unit, then spray, wait roughly 10 to 15 minutes, and then hose down once more. This is a chore you should do at least once a year.
If you notice warm air coming from your air conditioner, it’s an early sign of low refrigerant. One of the telltale signs is if you find your outside unit covered in ice. This can also point to a potential refrigerant leak, as it was never used up. This can cause the AC system to overheat, leading it to stall out.
Any issues with the coolant or refrigerant line should be addressed by a professional HVAC technician. That HVAC specialist or licensed contractor should first confirm the possibility of a leak. From there, they will evacuate any refrigerant that remains in the unit or the entire HVAC system. That will allow them to repair the leak, and then charge the AC with enough refrigerant to be running like new once again.