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My AC Is Not Cooling Enough

An AC vent

Is your AC not cooling enough? It can be frustrating when your air conditioner has been on for hours, but the room is still not cold enough. There are many reasons why your AC isn’t working as it should. It could be a simple issue like a clogged air filter or dirty evaporator coils. But, it could also be a more complicated problem, like a faulty compressor or damaged wiring.

Here are some ways to troubleshoot the situation. But, keep in mind, the best way to have your AC running smoothly is to get help from an HVAC specialist. You can avoid AC nightmares and enjoy cool air all year round with routine maintenance.

Why Your AC Isn’t Cooling

When your AC isn’t blowing out cold air, the first thing to do is check your thermostat’s controls. If it is in the heat setting, switch it to cool. But, if it is already switched to cool, check the temperature level to see if it is low enough. If the thermostat is off, turn on the heat setting before switching to cool. Then, if you start feeling cold air after a few minutes, your problem is solved. If not, you might have one of the following issues.

Dirty Air Filter

A dirty air filter can significantly hamper airflow and affect your AC unit’s performance. A filter clogged with debris prevents air from traveling through the HVAC system and over the evaporator coils. Limited airflow will restrict the AC’s cooling capacity. Check the filter regularly and replace it if it is dirty. Before doing so, make sure the HVAC system is off. Knowing how often to change the air filter in a house is helpful. Ideally, you should change filters every two to three months.

Dirty or Frozen Evaporator Coil

The evaporator coil plays an essential role in producing cool air. The return vents suck in hot air and push it over the evaporator coil. The refrigerant flowing through the coil will then absorb the heat from the air. However, it can become dirty, clogged or moldy over time. These issues will prevent heat transfer from the coil to the refrigerant.

Compressed air, household detergent and commercial cleaners can effectively clean a dirty or clogged evaporator coil. However, it can be challenging to fix if frozen. It is best to leave this task to an HVAC professional.

Faulty Compressor

The AC unit can’t cool down your space if the compressor isn’t working. This part compresses the refrigerant, raising its pressure and temperature. It turns the refrigerant into hot gas and pushes it through the HVAC system. The cooling cycle can’t start if your AC has a faulty compressor. Your unit will continue to blow out room-temperature air. If your AC is still under warranty, you can choose to replace the compressor. But if your AC is over 10 years old, it may be best to replace the entire unit.

Leaking or Insufficient Refrigerant

Refrigerant is vital to the cooling process. It flows through your AC system, absorbing the heat in the air. Your unit can’t perform the cooling process with insufficient or leaking refrigerant. If you suspect a refrigerant issue, turn the HVAC system off and then contact an HVAC specialist.

Faulty High-Voltage Wire

The high-voltage wire is responsible for signaling the compressor to turn on. If disconnected, loose, damaged or faulty, your AC can’t start the cooling process. Your AC unit will turn on but can only blow out hot air because the outdoor unit isn’t functioning. You should always leave wiring issues to the experts. They have the tools and expertise to deal with the situation.

An air conditioner

Where Is My AC Drain Line?

Having an AC makes life at home more comfortable. However, owning one also comes with responsibilities. One of them is keeping the drain line clean. It is an essential component but often overlooked. If the drain line is clogged, mold and water damage can develop and cause your AC system to shut down. Here’s everything you need to know about your AC’s drain line.

How to Find the AC Drain Line

The AC drain line has an indoor and outdoor portion. The one outside is usually a short PVC pipe with an opening that lets water flow out. You can spot it near the AC’s outdoor condenser unit. As for the indoor segment, you can find it connected to the drain pan at the bottom of the evaporator coil. After locating the drain line, find the access point. It is usually T-shaped and fitted with a cap.

What Does an AC Drain Line Do

Your AC unit works by removing heat and humidity from the air. The moisture or condensation it captures during this process flows into a drain pan underneath the evaporator coil. The condensation then makes its way outdoors through the drain line. If the drain line is clogged, the water will back up and possibly overflow from the drain pan.

It is easy for drain lines to become blocked because the moist environment makes for the perfect breeding ground for mold and bacteria. These can accumulate over time and clog the passageway. In addition, dirt, debris, insects and other foreign particles can get inside the drain line and block it.

What to Do With a Clogged Drain Line

It is common for homeowners to use a vinegar or bleach solution to clean AC drain lines. But it is best to stay away from these liquids. They are corrosive to metals and can damage the evaporator coil. Also, they won’t help in any way if there’s a blockage. The corrosive mixture will only back up and overflow.

It is better to clear the blockage manually. Put on some gloves and reach your fingers into the end of the drain line. Pull out any debris you can get a hold of. Next, connect your wet/dry vacuum hose to the end of the drain line outside. You can use duct tape or cloth to create a tight seal. Turn the vacuum on. As it is running, slowly pour a gallon of water into the drain line’s access point with the help of a funnel. The vacuum will suck the water, flushing out the blockage from the drain line.

If you are dealing with a stubborn AC drain line clog, a snake drain might help. Push it down the access point to dislodge the blockage. However, ensure it doesn’t come near the air handler because it could damage the evaporator coil. If these methods don’t work, the clog may have already hardened. An HVAC specialist may have to rebuild your AC’s drain line.

an HVAC professional doing a tune-up

What Is an AC Tune-Up? 

AC units are expensive enough as they are. Owners might not want to spend more on maintenance. But annual AC tune-ups will save you money in the long run. They help prevent AC problems and significantly extend your unit’s life, allowing you to use it for up to 15 years. In addition, regular tune-ups can lower your electric bills by as much as 15%.

Schedule tune-ups in the spring so your AC can run at peak performance in the summer. Here are some of the standard tasks an HVAC pro will perform during a tune-up:

  • Evaluate system efficiency
  • Clean and adjust the burner assembly
  • Evaluation of refrigerant levels and inspection for any leaks
  • Thermostat calibration to optimize AC performance
  • Thorough cleaning of the condenser coils to increase efficiency and reduce wear and tear
  • Inspection and tightening of electrical components to ensure safe operation
  • Checking and cleaning the condensate drain line
  • Lubrication of moving parts to reduce friction and wear and tear
  • Inspection and replacement of the air filter
  • Test safety controls and check for gas leaks

After a tune-up, HVAC specialists usually provide a written summary of the test results and their recommendations. They may be able to perform the necessary repairs on the spot.

There are many ways AC owners can maintain their units in between tune-ups. They can routinely clean or replace the air filter, eliminate debris around the condenser unit and unclog the drain line.

Seek the Help of the Pros

Is your AC not cooling enough? There are different ways to troubleshoot this issue and get your unit to blow cold air again. But you don’t need to worry if you can’t solve the problem yourself. An experienced HVAC specialist can assess the situation and provide an effective solution.

HVAC technicians can also come to your home regularly to perform tune-ups and air conditioning preventative maintenance. That will prevent minor issues from snowballing into expensive nightmares. They can address various AC issues, including drain line blockages. Your family can enjoy cool and clean air at home all year through routine AC maintenance.

ABC Can Keep Your AC Working Efficiently

Dealing with AC issues requires lots of technical know-how. Instead of trying to figure it out yourself, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our professionals can efficiently diagnose and repair your AC problem.

Tom Riggs

Tom Riggs is the Division Manager for Mechanical Services, overseeing sales and operations for HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Appliance Repair and Water Quality for all ABC Austin branches. He joined ABC in 2014. Before ABC, he was an HVAC Service Technician, HVAC Comfort Advisor/Sales and Operations Manager. Tom attended Universal Technical Institute. He's an avid outdoorsman and enjoys country living with his wife and two sons.

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