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Why is My Air Conditioning Not Working? What to do & How to Fix it!

There are few things worse than coming home during the summer, wanting to relax in a comfortable, cool home, only to find out the AC is on the fritz. And despite putting fans in the bedroom, you just can’t sleep as comfortably when it’s hot without an effective air conditioner.

In this article, we look at the many reasons why your air conditioner might stop working, why it’s not cooling your home anymore, and what you should do when it does go out.

How Air Conditioners Work

Before we get into why your air conditioner might stop working, it’s good to know how the whole system works so you can better diagnose and understand the problem before you call for help.

The modern home air conditioning system is made up of two units, the indoor unit and the outdoor unit. The indoor unit is usually installed in a closet or where your furnace is located. This unit contains the evaporator which works with the refrigerant to absorb the heat from the air. By pulling the heat out of the air, the air becomes cool, which is pumped back out into your home.

The outdoor unit houses the compressor, the condenser coil and the fan. The outdoor unit is responsible for taking the heat absorbed by the indoor unit and passing onto the compressor which is the heart of your system and moves the refrigerant through the system to keep your home cool. The compressor compresses the refrigerant to a higher pressure and moves it on to the condenser, and then on to the fan. This whole system operates much like your circulatory system and as you can see, there are many parts involved, which when they break down, can cause your air conditioner to stop working.

Why My Air Conditioner Isn’t Cooling

Now we know the nuts and bolts of how your air conditioner system operates, let’s look at why it might stop cooling your home.

With so many pieces to the puzzle, a failure at any point can cause your air conditioner to blow warm air or stop working altogether. The following are the most common reasons why your air conditioner isn’t cooling your home.

  1. Thermostat Problems If the compressor is the heart of your air conditioner, then the thermostat is the brain, and when the brain fails, it can bring the entire system to its knees. If your ac isn’t cooling your home, check the thermostat to see if it’s set to the correct temperature. Also check to see if it’s set to “ON” or “AUTO”. Change it to “AUTO” because the “ON” setting allows the fan to stay on all the time even when the system isn’t cooling. Also, thermostats do go bad, so it’s worth checking to see if it needs repaired.
  2. Clogged Air Filters This one gets overlooked all the time, but it’s essential for the health of your air conditioner to keep your air filters clean by changing them regularly. The air filter traps dust, dirt, and debris and keeps your entire system clean. When it’s clogged, the airflow becomes restricted, and it makes the system work harder, which shortens its lifespan. A clogged air filter can also lead to your condenser unit to freeze, and when that happens they system can’t cool the air.
  3. Broken Condenser As mentioned, your condenser is an essential piece of your air conditioner, and when it fails, you won’t get the cold air you want. Condenser problems are evident by the system “short cycling” which means the system turns on and off rapidly. Take note if this happens because failure to fix it can lead to the system failing prematurely.
  4. Low/Leaking Refrigerant If your system lacks sufficient refrigerant, it won’t cool your home. Sometimes, pipes crack and refrigerant leaks, which leads to the system failing to cool to your liking.
  5. Broken Condenser Coils Your condenser coil is vital for producing cold air and sometimes an electrical failure such as a short can cause the coil to stop working even though the fan is running. When the fan runs, it’s easy to think the system is working even though you have a part that’s failed.

ac not working

How Much To Repair My Air Conditioner

When Mother Nature turns up the heat, and your ac isn’t working properly, you want your system repaired as quickly as possible, but you also don’t want to hand over the kids’ college fund to do so. The average lifespan of an HVAC system is about 15 years with proper maintenance, so anything older than that, and it’s time to consider a replacement. Barring that, an ac repair cost depends on what is the problem, how much the parts will be and what kind of labor time is involved. If all you need is a filter replacement, you can do that yourself for about $20. Also, if your thermostat is broken, or placed in a bad spot, a new unit costs anywhere form $100-$300 plus labor.

However, if the fix involves a failed compressor, you could be looking at a $2,000 repair, in which case it’s better to think about a new unit if yours is over 10 years old.

When To Call Your HVAC Professional

Your home air conditioner is a complex machine which can prove to be a challenge even to the most handy people. Because of this complexity, you’re always better off calling in an HVAC professional when you have an issue. An HVAC professional technician undergoes rigorous training and education to learn how these systems work so they can quickly diagnose a problem and fix it.

Also, to keep your system running efficiently year in and out, and ensure that it lasts, it’s essential you conduct regular maintenance on the entire system at least once a year and preferably twice. Call your local HVAC professional and get on a maintenance schedule to have them keep your system running optimally so it’s always ready when you need it.

Best Way to Save Money When It Comes to Your AC

When the heat is on during the summer months, there’s nothing better than coming home after a long day to a cool, refreshing home. And while most people couldn’t dream of living without their air conditioner, they don’t like the energy bills that come with running it constantly.

In this article, we look at the best ways to save money while using your air conditioner without sacrificing your comfort.

How Much Does It Cost To Run Your AC?

While there’s no single answer or number we can put on how much it costs to run an air conditioner because it varies from climate to climate and house to house, we can give a ballpark estimate.

The best way to figure out how much it costs to run your air conditioner is by using a simple formula. The first thing to do is learn how many amps your unit draws, which can be determined by looking at your air conditioner’s SEER rating. You should be able to find this number on the inside of your AC’s filter panel, for example, a 5,000 BTU air conditioner has a SEER rating of 5 amps.

Next, multiply the figure of 5 by the voltage put out by your outlet, which is usually 110. So, 5×110=550 watts. Once you know how much you’re paying per kilowatt an hour, you can figure out how much it costs to operate your AC system for any length of time.

Should I Turn Off My AC When I’m Not Home?

If saving money is a concern you have regarding your air conditioner, you’re probably wondering if it’s beneficial to turn it off when you’re not home. There are two schools of thought here. On one hand, you have people who reason that if the machine isn’t running, it’s not using energy, which is saving you money. Then you have people who say if you leave it off, then turn it on when you get home, it takes more energy to get cool down the house than if you left it on all day.

According to some HVAC experts, leaving an air conditioner on all day when you’re not home is an inefficient use of energy and puts more wear and tear on the system causing it to break down more quickly.

So, if you’re planning on being out of the house for several hours, or even leave town for a few days, it’s best to turn the system off. Or better yet, invest in a programmable thermostat which can adjust the temperature according to your schedule. You can program the system to fire up right before you get home and power down when you leave for work. Using your system only when you need it is a great way to keep your energy costs down and maintain a healthy and long-lasting HVAC system.

save money on AC

What Temperature Should I Set My AC When I’m Away?

As we’ve seen, if you will be out of the house for a lengthy period, it’s best not to have your air conditioner running full throttle. But, you also want to come home to a house that’s not humid and oppressive either. So, what temperature should your thermostat be set at when you’re away?

Most experts agree that turning your thermostat up two or three degrees when you will be out of the house is a great way to save energy costs and still keep your house reasonably cool.

If you’re planning on being on a vacation, that will only last a few days, set the thermostat up four degrees higher than you would normally set it if you were home. Experts say four degrees is ideal because if you go higher than that, you risk expending more energy to cool the house down when you come back, which defeats the purpose of trying to save money by setting it higher. So, if you normally keep your thermostat at 65, turn it up to 69.

If you will be out of the house for a week or more, you can save money by turning the system completely off.

Top Tips on How To Lower Your Air Conditioning Bills

Now we’ve covered how to save money on your energy bills when it comes to leaving your air conditioner on versus turning it off when you leave, we’re turning our attention to the top ways you can save money on your energy bills when operating your air conditioner.

  1. Get Insulated A great way to keep your energy bills low is to beef up your home’s insulation. This not only keeps you cooler in the summer but also warmer in winter. Good insulation doesn’t end with the attic either. Sealing your windows to prevent the cold air from leaking out goes a long way to helping to keep your house cooler and lighten the load on your air conditioner.
  2. Get A Programmable Thermostat As mentioned earlier, a programmable thermostat is a great way to regulate and adjust the temperatures in your home when you’re away or when you’re sleeping. Many of these thermostats can be controlled via an app on your phone for extra convenience.
  3. Maintain Your HVAC System Keeping your filters clean and performing regular maintenance on your system keeps it running properly and efficiently. And when your system is running efficiently, you save money on your energy bills.
  4. Block Out The Sun If you have windows that face the sun, consider getting thick blinds or drapes to block out the rays which heat your home and cause your air conditioner to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.
  5. Use Ceiling Fans If you have ceiling fans, use them. Not only do they use less energy than your air conditioner, but they do a wonderful job of keeping you cool.

With a little forethought and diligence, you can shave money off your energy bills without sacrificing comfort, and ensure your air conditioning system lasts as long as possible.



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Are Your Air Ducts Clean? Here’s Why They Need To Be

If you consider the compressor as the heart of your HVAC system, then your ducts are the arteries. And just as with human arteries, it’s essential your ducts are clean to ensure the free flow of air, the health of your HVAC system and your physical health as well.

In this article, we look at the importance of your ductwork, how dirty ducts affect your health, and how to ensure your air ducts stay clean.

What is Air Duct Cleaning?

It might come as a surprise, but in many instances, the air in your home is more polluted than the air outside. Much of the indoor pollution comes from pet dander, dust, mold, and mildew. And when this polluted air circulates throughout the house, these pollutants can affect every member of the household including your pets.

Duct cleaning is a process by which a professional comes into your home and thoroughly cleans not only your ductwork but the components of your HVAC system including the registers. Regular cleaning is vital for maintaining your health and the health of your system and to ensure it provides you excellent service for years.

Keep in mind that dirt, dust, and debris build-up through day-to-day usage of your HVAC system, which is why routine cleaning and maintenance is essential. With that in mind, when you decide it’s time to get your ductwork cleaned, it’s advised to get an HVAC contractor who will clean the whole system because dirt in one part will eventually circulate to the rest.

Also, in some cases, professional duct cleaning involves applying chemicals to kill microbiological pollutants for deep cleaning.

If you’ve not ever had your ducts cleaned, it’s time to consider doing so, and once clean, get on a regular maintenance schedule for your ducts and your entire air conditioning system.

How Dirty Air Ducts Affect Your Health

According to the EPA, Americans spend about 90% of their time inside, and as mentioned above, in many cases the air inside your home is more polluted than the air outside. Knowing that it’s not difficult to see how dirty air can affect your health.

So, how do dirty ducts enter the equation, and what kind of health problems can you suffer from dirty ducts?

Since your air conditioner works by taking warm air out of the home, stripping out the heat, and then pumping cool air back in, dust, debris, pet dander, and germs are continuously getting sucked into the system and spread around the home.

The following are just a few of the health issues you can experience if your ducts are dirty.

  • Sore Throat
  • Increase in Allergies
  • Coughing and Upper Respiratory Infections
  • Asthma Attacks
  • Weakened Immune System

In addition to dirt, dust, debris, and pet dander that accumulate in ductwork, sometimes rodents and insects find their way in and either die or leave waste behind, and the germs and bacteria from that waste blow into your home when your air conditioner is running.

While all of these issues are bad enough when it comes to healthy people, imagine small children or elderly residents who have compromised immune systems having to deal with the health problems caused by dirty ducts.

Dirty Air Ducts

Dirty Ducts & Household Odors

Have you noticed your home not smelling as fresh as you’d like? Have you used sprays and air fresheners only to have the musty smell come back again? If so, there’s a chance the problem lies in your ductwork. Mold and mildew can build up in your ducts and put out a musty smell when you run your AC. And not only does the air smell terrible, but the presence of mold increases the chance of you and your family getting sick. And while you may have gotten somewhat used to the smell, imagine having guests over and what they’ll think about your musty-smelling house.

How To Clean Your Air Ducts

For best results, consider calling a professional duct cleaning service to get a thorough duct cleaning. However, if you’re set on doing it yourself, here are a few pointers.

  1. Put covers over your registers that supply air to the system. You can use paper towels or blankets which keeps the dust from spilling out into your rooms while you’re cleaning.
  2. Run your fan while you’re cleaning to keep the dust moving.
  3. Make sure your filter is still in place so it can absorb any dirt and prevent it from getting lodged in the fan’s motor.
  4. Dislodge the dust and debris by gently knocking on the ducts.
  5. Clean your air supply registers with a vacuum and a hose attachment. Get in as deep as you can at each register.
  6. Sweep out your air return registers in the same way you cleaned the supply registers.
  7. Turn the power off and dust out the blower compartment. This is one area where a lot of dust and dirt gathers so you’ll need to use your vacuum for this as well.
  8. Replace the dirty filter with a clean one when you’re finished. Most experts recommend getting the best filter money can buy to filter out the small particles and keep them from damaging your system and getting into your home.


How Much Does Professional Air Duct Cleaning Cost?

Thorough duct cleaning is a big job and is best left to the professionals who have the proper equipment and training. If you’re not handy or want the job done right, call in a service technician for a cleaning.

While rates vary according to how big of a home you have and how many vents are involved, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 for professional duct cleaning. And while that might seem high, think about how better you and your family’s health will be with clean, fresh air circulating throughout, and how much nicer your home will smell too. Keeping ducts clean also ensures your system runs efficiently and lasts for as long as possible.



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