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The Heat Is On: What To Do When Your AC Can't Beat The Summer Heat

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Summer heat got you down? Everyone looks forward to warm summer days in the depths of the winter, but the hot days can often be just as unpleasant as the snowier parts of the year. While no one can deny the beauty of spring and early summer, mid-to-late summer often means contending with uncomfortably hot and humid days.

Of course, you and your family aren't the only ones feeling the heat. Your air conditioning system must also work much harder to keep up with the increased demand on those scorching days. But what if your system struggles to keep up, no matter how much you turn down your thermostat dial?

How Your Air Conditioner Keeps You Cool

Many homeowners assume that air conditioners are relatively inefficient, but these systems are usually much more efficient than standard heating equipment. Unlike your furnace, your air conditioner moves heat rather than generating it. In other words, your air conditioner isn't creating cold air but moving heat energy away from your home.

Air conditioning systems use a chemical called refrigerant to transport heat. This chemical exists in a sealed system, so it never comes into direct contact with the air. Instead, it absorbs heat through your indoor evaporator coil and releases it again through the outdoor condenser coil. This system relies on efficient heat transfer through both coils and precise refrigerant pressure.

Why Air Conditioners Struggle to Maintain Temperature

Your air conditioner's sizing and the overall design of your system are the biggest factors that affect its ability to cool your home. However, assuming your air conditioner previously kept you cool, a change in cooling ability typically means that something is stopping your air conditioner from effectively transferring or moving heat energy.

Refrigerant leaks are one common potential cause. Low refrigerant pressure will cause temperatures at the evaporator coil to drop, freezing ice onto the coil surface. Your system will run longer during the hottest summer days, allowing more condensation to accumulate and more ice to form. This ice will reduce system efficiency and eventually lead to short cycling.

Dirty or damaged coils are another potential source of trouble. If your coils can't effectively transfer heat to or from your system's refrigerant, your air conditioner will likely struggle to keep up with hotter temperatures. Coil issues can be a common culprit for systems that work reasonably well on cooler days but struggle when temperatures increase.

What You Should Do About a Struggling AC

If your system seems to be struggling or frequently shutting down on hot days, you should contact a professional HVAC contractor immediately. In addition to leaving you sweating, a struggling AC may be placing more wear on critical components. Refrigerant leaks can be particularly harmful as low pressure can eventually cause compressor damage.

For more information about air conditioning repair, contact a professional.