Top 15 Problems You May Experience with Your Louisville Cooling System This Summer

Air conditioners and heat pumps throughout Louisville work day in and day out over the summer season. Most homeowners get through the summer with no cooling system troubles, but sometimes malfunctions do occur. Below, learn some of the most common cooling system problems that could affect your air conditioner or heat pump this year – if you notice these issues, call Jarboe’s Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for reliable air conditioning repairs.

1. Not Enough Cooling When It’s Hot

When a heat wave rolls through, it’s going to be difficult to keep your home cool and comfortable. Many homeowners believe that air conditioners stop working well at a certain temperature, but really they experience troubles once the difference between indoor and outdoor temperatures becomes too great. Most systems will cool your home effectively within 20 degrees of the outdoor temperature.

On a 100-degree day, your air conditioner is likely to struggle cooling your home down to 70 degrees because the 30-degree difference is simply too much for the system to efficiently handle. Not being able to cool the home enough on extremely hot days usually doesn’t indicate an issue with the system, even if the circumstances do cause comfort problems inside the home. While it is possible for malfunctions like airflow blockages to be present which worsen the problem, it’s usually just par for the course on an extremely hot day.

2. Vents Emit Warm Air

As the air conditioner or heat pump cycles, cool air will flow from the supply vents positioned throughout your home. Occasionally, a homeowner reports warm air blowing from these vents instead of cool air.

Often, this is a result of a thermostat that has been set incorrectly. The thermostat should be set to COOL, not HEAT. The fan controls on the thermostat should be set to AUTO, not ON. While it’s possible to accidentally switch your heating system on in the summer, more than likely it’s the system fan causing warm air blowing from vents. When you use the ON setting, the blower will circulate air through the system and ducts around the clock – when your air conditioner or heat pump is between cycles, cool air won’t be sent into your living areas.

Sometimes, system malfunctions are the cause of warm air blowing through vents. If the outdoor coils are dirty, they may not be able to release enough heat to cool your home. When the fins on the exterior of the outdoor unit are blocked with debris and items stored in the space nearby, the unit does not receive adequate airflow to release heat. And if a refrigerant leak is present within your cooling system, you may not have enough refrigerant available to adequately absorb and release heat.

3. Limited Airflow Indoors

Low airflow and limited cool air flowing from your home’s vents indicate a few possible issues with your air conditioner or heat pump:

  • The blower fan isn’t working properly to push air through the ducts. Motor components may be bogged down by grime, making it difficult for the fan to turn, or other component issues may affect operating speed.

  • If the ducts leading to the vents in question have leaks present, a portion of the cool air meant for your home never arrives in your living areas because it escapes into voids surrounding the duct.

  • If your outdoor air conditioning unit or heat pump is blocked and doesn’t have enough air moving through it, the cooling process can be restricted which also impacts airflow inside.

4. Cooling System Starts and Stops Over and Over

The length of a cooling cycle will depend on temperature settings and other factors, but will usually last about 15 minutes or so. When the cycles last just a couple of minutes to less than half the normal cycle time, this is called short cycling.

Short cycling is an HVAC system issue that can damage equipment and eat up electricity. With frequent starts and stops, air conditioners and heat pumps sustain more wear and tear as well as breakdowns. Components can easily overheat and be damaged by short cycling. Air conditioners that are too big for the home are notorious for short cycling – you don’t want to use a larger system that cycles faster, because comfort is difficult to manage and your system will consume more energy than an appropriately sized unit would.

5. Equipment Doesn’t Turn On

When a home’s air conditioner or heat pump won’t turn on at all, there may be a power problem affecting one or more components. Bad batteries, flipped power switches, tripped breakers, and blown fuses in the system prevent your thermostat and cooling equipment from accessing power to run. If your thermostat has gone bad, this can prevent your air conditioner from receiving all signals that govern its operation, so it will not turn on at all.

6. Air Conditioner Runs Loud

While air conditioners and heat pumps make some noise as they run, homeowners are typically used to what this operating noise sounds like. A click from the thermostat when the air conditioner turns on and off is completely normal as well.

Anytime your air conditioning equipment produces new sounds that are loud or disruptive, you’re likely listening to the sound of a system malfunction. Air conditioner noises may indicate:

  • Worn motor bearings, which make a squealing noise.
  • High pressure in the compressor, which makes a screaming noise that tells you conditions within the unit are dangerous.
  • Loose, off balance, or detached components, which give off a rattle or clanking noise.
  • Refrigerant leaks, which can produce a hissing noise as the refrigerant escapes through the leaky area.

7. Air Duct Leaks

Duct leaks are responsible for a great deal of cooling loss in the average home. As air circulates, it escapes through disconnected or loose joints, tears, and other damage to the ducts. Over the summer months, increased system use can create the opportunity for these leaks to worsen. With more air passing through the system, escaping air can further expand the leak. Homeowners who close vents to restrict cooling aren’t doing themselves any favors, as this builds pressure in the ducts which can also contribute to leaks.

8. Frequent Filter Replacement

Because your system runs more in the summer, you’ll probably notice your air filters fill faster and must be changed more often. As the home’s air supply passes through the filter more frequently, the filter has more opportunities to extract pollutants and will fill up sooner than it would during seasons where the cooling system doesn’t see as much use.

It’s typically normal for homeowners to replace filters more often in the summer due to increased cooling use. However, it could indicate an indoor air quality issue inside your home. Make sure you change your filters as often as needed, as dirty filters block air movement and lead to many different system issues.

9. Faulty Fans

Air conditioners and heat pumps have two different fans. The blower fan is a component inside the air handler which moves air through indoor cooling equipment, ducts, and your living areas. The condenser fan sits in the outdoor unit and moves air over the condenser coils to cool them for efficient heat transfer.

  • Both fans are operated by motors. Bad bearings, broken belts, or faulty motors can stop the fans from running correctly.
  • In the outdoor unit, a faulty contactor or capacitor can prevent the fan motor from receiving power to operate, so the fan will not run.

10. Refrigerant Leaks and Low Refrigerant

Refrigerant flows through the cooling system to absorb, move, and release heat in order to cool the home’s air. The refrigerant lines connect indoor and outdoor equipment, and refrigerant cycles through evaporator coils, the compressor, and condenser coils.

Anytime there is a leak in the system, refrigerant is able to leak out which leaves your air conditioner without enough charge to properly transfer heat for cooling. In older systems using Freon refrigerant, leaks are harmful to the environment. When an air conditioner or heat pump is low on refrigerant, the home cannot be cooled correctly and typically feels more humid as well.

11. Frozen Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils within the indoor unit absorb heat from the home’s air via the refrigerant held within them. Poor airflow or low refrigerant may cause this area to become too cool. The humidity extracted from the air forms condensation on the coils, and the cooler temperatures cause it to freeze. If the condensate drain is clogged, there may be more moisture surrounding the evaporator coils which can worsen ice buildup on the evaporator coil.

12. Clogged Condensate Drain Lines

Condensation resulting from the cooling process drips from the evaporator coils into the unit’s drip pan. The drip pan is a collection reservoir that is attached to the condensate drain line. The condensate drain line allows this moisture to leave the cooling system.

Clogs in the drip pan or drain line can form due to excess dust and debris in the air, mold or algae growth in the drip pan, or damage to the drain line itself. These clogs prevent moisture from leaving the air conditioner and eventually, water backs up and spills out of the drip pan. Condensate line clogs can result in water damage to the air conditioner and nearby areas and cause the home’s air to hold more humidity.

13. Condenser Coils Are Dirty

In the outdoor unit are the condenser coils which release heat from the refrigerant they hold. Heat is transferred to the outside air once it is pulled from the home’s air supply. The condenser coils are exposed to airborne pollutants and other outdoor materials which may collect on their surface. Buildup restricts the coil’s available surface area so it cannot transfer heat as efficiently. When condenser coils are dirty, the air conditioner has difficulty cooling your home and uses more energy to operate.

14. Electrical Damage

Various electrical components and connections exist within your cooling system, providing power to components and sending signals for operation. These components can be damaged by a lack of maintenance as well as power surges resulting from summer storms or issues within your home’s electrical system. Wiring, capacitors, contractors, and other components may be damaged, preventing the system from operating correctly. 

15. Unusually High Energy Bills

Air conditioners typically account for a large portion of your summer electricity bill. If your utility expenses are higher than expected with no explainable cause, it’s possible that an air conditioner malfunction is to blame. The problems above and others can cause air conditioners or heat pumps to use more electricity to cool the home as system efficiency is impacted.

Louisville Air Conditioner Repair from Jarboe’s

If you experience any of the common summer cooling system problems above, call Jarboe’s for fast repair service. Our team performs repairs for all makes and models of air conditioners and heat pumps. We are available 24/7 in the event of a cooling repair emergency!

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