What Should You Do if Your AC Can't Keep up with Your Cooling Needs?

No one wants to sweat through the Louisville summer when the air conditioner can’t keep up at home! When outdoor temperatures climb in the South, we rely on cooling systems to keep our homes comfortable. Unfortunately, certain environmental conditions and system issues have the potential to stand in the way of AC system performance, so your air conditioner can’t keep up.

If you’re losing patience and comfort with an underperforming air conditioning system, how much relief you are able to achieve depends on the source of the problem. Air conditioning upgrades or repairs solve mechanical issues, and there are steps to take to limit indoor discomfort when environmental issues are to blame.

If your Louisville air conditioner can’t keep up, don’t wait to contact Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for assistance. We dispatch our NATE-certified air conditioning technicians to inspect your home’s cooling equipment and get to the bottom of indoor discomfort. We offer reliable air conditioning equipment and service solutions that deliver the cool temperatures you want all summer long.

Air Conditioner Can’t Keep up in a Heat Wave

It’s no secret to Louisville residents that the summer heat can be hard to beat. An air conditioner can’t keep up when temperatures are too high. When a heat wave rolls through, don’t be alarmed if your air conditioner struggles to achieve the level of cooling you desire inside the home.

Louisville’s highest average summer temperatures are in the mid-to high-80s. When a heat wave raises outdoor temperatures above this range, the air conditioner can’t keep up with the increase in cooling demand. Residential air conditioners are made to handle temperature differences that are a maximum of 20 degrees’ difference between inside and outdoors. Trying to keep your home at 68 degrees inside when it’s 95 outdoors becomes a problem for your cooling system.

Help Your Air Conditioner When Temperatures Are High

Yes, heat waves make indoor conditions a little more uncomfortable than usual, but you don’t have to suffer! Heat gain becomes a big issue for Louisville homes in the summer, and even more so during a heat wave. This is when your home takes on more heat indoors due to natural heat and heat from artificial sources.

Limit heat gain in your Louisville home to minimize discomfort when your air conditioner can’t keep up in the midst of a heat wave:

  • Limit heat gain from the sun when you keep shades, curtains, and blinds drawn during the daylight hours.
  • Hang clothing on an outdoor line to air dry instead of running the dryer indoors.
  • Save hot water laundry washes and dishwasher cycles for times when outdoor temperatures are lowest, such as the early morning, late evening, and overnight hours.
  • Utilize your grill or outdoor kitchen to avoid head gain from cooking indoors with an oven or stove – crockpots are an indoor solution for cooking meals without adding much extra heat to the home.
  • Run ceiling fans when a room is in use – this produces a windchill effect that helps your body stay cool without lowering air conditioner temperatures.
  • Prevent outdoor air infiltration when you use caulk and weather stripping to seal around doors, walls, exterior wall penetrations, and other points of entry.

There are also some steps to take to help your air conditioner serve you better during times when the air conditioner can’t keep up with outdoor temperatures:

  • Make sure your air filter is clean so air movement is not restricted through your cooling system.
  • Clear away vegetation, yard debris, and nearby items from your exterior condenser unit, so heat is effectively released and air moves freely to the unit.
  • Inspect all vents and return air grilles inside the home – make sure they are open and do not close them to try and save energy during the summer.

Mechanical Issues at Play When an Air Conditioner Can’t Keep Up

When temperatures are average and your air conditioner can’t keep up, it’s time to start an investigation into mechanical causes. Your trusted HVAC technician is your best resource – he or she comes to evaluate your cooling system and diagnose malfunctions that make it so the air conditioner can’t keep up.

Thermostat Malfunctions

Your home’s thermostat and air conditioner work together to keep indoor living areas cool throughout the summer. The thermostat detects indoor temperatures, then tells the air conditioner to run once temperatures rise above your desired setpoint, and stops the cooling cycle once the target temperature is achieved.

If it feels like your air conditioner can’t keep up, the problem may be that your thermostat isn’t telling it to keep up. When temperatures are not correctly read by the thermostat, the air conditioner is not triggered to cycle when needed. Faulty sensors or dust accumulation on the sensors cause incorrect temperature readings. Also, if the thermostat is exposed to heat sources such as an open door, heat-producing appliances, or direct sunlight, the temperature it reads is higher than the actual temperature throughout your home, which leads to improper air conditioning cycles.

Ductwork Disconnections and Duct Leaks

The duct system within your Louisville home allows conditioned air to travel from the air conditioner to your living areas. Disconnected duct sections and duct leaks let this conditioned air out before reaching living areas, so you don’t receive the full benefit of cooling. Instead, it flows into unconditioned areas where it does you no good.

Duct diagnostics are difficult for Louisville homeowners because most ducts are installed in attics, wall cavities, basements, and crawl spaces, which are difficult to reach and see. Minor duct leaks aren’t as visually obvious as a fallen section of duct but can account for up to 30% cooling energy loss! Also, if the duct system is poorly designed or the wrong-sized ducts are used, it feels like your air conditioner can’t keep up when really airflow is being lost or blocked in the ducts.

Refrigerant Leaks

Air conditioners have refrigerant lines that allow refrigerant to cycle between system components as part of the cooling process. The refrigerant absorbs heat from the evaporator coil, transfers it to the compressor, and releases it through the condenser coil. In a sealed system, refrigerant is not depleted – it is not “used up” nor does it evaporate.

When leaks exist, refrigerant is lost from the system. Refrigerant leaks allow the system to lose volume and pressure and then the air conditioner can’t keep up because it doesn’t have the refrigerant it needs for cooling. Not only is a refrigerant leak potentially harmful to the environment (this is a concern in older systems that use Freon), but it causes damage to the cooling system.

Dirt on Coils

The system coils mentioned above are essential to the cooling process. The indoor evaporator coil and outdoor condenser coil facilitate heat transfer using surface area. As they are exposed to air, they are prone to the accumulation of airborne debris like dust, dirt, and more, which builds on their surface. This accumulation prevents heat from being absorbed and expelled by the coils, making it so your air conditioner can’t keep up because heat transfer is restricted.

Poor Equipment Makes It so an Air Conditioner Can’t Keep Up

If your air conditioner can’t keep up, the problem may not be with a faulty component, but a faulty air conditioning system. This is a problem that can plague equipment both new and old – if the system is unable to properly function, the air conditioner can’t keep up.

Older AC Equipment

As time passes, air conditioners lose their ability to perform as they did when they were new. Proper maintenance helps but is unable to completely restore an air conditioner’s original performance and efficiency. Upgrade to a new, high-efficiency air conditioner when your air conditioner can’t keep up for better indoor temperature control and lower energy bills.

Undersized AC Equipment

When an air conditioner can’t keep up, system sizing is commonly to blame. Air conditioners aren’t one-size – they come in various capacities to provide for the cooling demands of a home. Air conditioner sizing isn’t just related to your home’s square footage, but numerous factors like construction, number, and location of windows and doors, how many people live in the house, and more. The reason an undersized air conditioner can’t keep up is because it never had the power to keep up with your cooling demand.

Undersized AC equipment creates many more problems for homeowners than simply not keeping up with demand. They use more energy because they have to run more often as they attempt to generate the desired amount of cooling. Because of the frequent use, parts wear out sooner and need repair, and the system doesn’t last as long.

NATE-certified cooling technicians perform cooling load calculations that consider your home’s unique factors to determine which size air conditioner you need. When you upgrade to the right size, you eliminate the air conditioner can’t keep up problem and get the temperature control you want with less energy consumption.

If Your Louisville Air Conditioner Can’t Keep up, Call Jarboe’s

If your Louisville air conditioner can’t keep up with the job you ask of it, it’s time to call in the pros for expert solutions. At Jarboe’s, our NATE-certified Louisville air conditioning repair technicians are well-trained to identify the system issues that cause an air conditioner to underperform. Don’t accept uncomfortable indoor conditions this summer – contact us today to schedule air conditioning service!

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