When Your AC Cannot Keep Up With the Heat

Staying cool during the scorching Southern California heat is not easy when the temperatures consistently stay above 100 degrees. Over the past month, a good portion of the country has endured record breaking heat. In fact, Aire-Tech has received numerous calls from frustrated homeowners reporting that their air conditioner will not cool below 75 degrees! This is actually not unusual when the temperature outside is over 100 for an extended period of time.

The reason your A/C cannot deliver colder temperatures inside your home is because it simply was not designed to do so. The limited capacity of your A/C unit may be frustrating but setting your thermostat too low could actually cause undo wear on your system. Keep in mind that your HVAC unit is designed to cool a maximum of 20 degrees from the outside temperature. Pretty simple math: if it is 100 outside and your AC is getting to 80 or below – it is doing its job.

Granted, your system also could just need repair. Depending on the age of the unit and the length of time since it was last serviced, your cooling issues may be the result of something broken or dirty in your system.

Read on to see some tips on keeping your home cool and some possible issue you may be having with your unit.


Problems YOU May be Creating That Prevent the AC From Keeping Up with the Heat


  • Thermostat Settings 

On a warm summer day – say 85-98 degrees, we recommend you turn your thermostat up when you leave for work. However, no higher than 84 degrees. This is a good way to save energy over the course of time. This way, the AC does not have to work too hard to bring the temperature down to somewhere between 75-80 degrees. On hotter days (98 degrees & above), we recommend you let that unit run so it can “keep up.”


  • The Greenhouse Effect 

Solar heat gain through windows, especially South and West facing windows play a huge role in where heat gets into your home in the first place. We all want our home to feel bright and inviting, but this can raise your energy bill while lowering your comfort level. We recommend solar shade screens for the summer which will allow you to keep your blinds or curtains open while blocking as much as 90% of the solar gain. If you are going to be gone for the day, close your blinds (with the blades facing up) as well.


Problems With Your AC Unit That Prevent it From Keeping Up

  • Refrigerant Leak 

It is a common misconception that refrigerant is slowly depleted as part of an AC system’s cooling process. Low refrigerant levels are actually the result of refrigerant leaks caused by small puncture holes in the refrigerant line or cracks in coils that allow the refrigerant to escape. Refrigerant leaks can be caused by several things, such as: Corrosion of copper tube walls of the indoor coil, factory defects in your unit, improper AC installation, joints or connections weakening over time or normal wear and tear.


  • Dirty Condenser Coils 

Condenser coils are one of the main components of your HVAC system that make sure your unit is reliable, effective, cost-efficient and operational for the long-term. It is located in your condensing unit outside of your home. The system itself works by a process of continually converting gas into a liquid. Thanks to a refrigerant material being used in the tubing, all of the hot air that is inside of your home is going to travel outside and into the condenser coils where the hot air is removed from your home.


  • Dirty Evaporator Coils

The evaporator coils capture heat from the air inside of your home. Condenser coils release that captured heat into the air through the outdoor cabinet. The evaporator coils are part of the interior air handling unit. They’re extremely important to the overall performance of your AC system. They provide the cooling needed to create cold air to keep your building or home comfortable – even when temperatures soar. In most cases, evaporator coils are made of copper and surrounded by aluminum fins to improve heat transfer. The evaporator coils also help with dehumidification. As the coils get cooler, the water condenses on them from the air inside your home.


  • Overheating Fan Motor or Compressor

A failing fan motor or compressor can sometimes overheat and stop working, then after cooling down, start operating normally for a while until it overheats again. When this happens, it can be tricky to catch because the problem is intermittent. The temperature in the home will creep up every time the motor shuts-off but then start producing cold air again when it turns back on.



Problems With Your HOME Can Prevent Your AC From Cooling Down


  • Inadequate Attic Insulation 

The insulation in the attic area plays a crucial role in maintaining cool interiors during summers. When sun shines on your attic, the attic absorbs heat. This heat then transfers to your living space, warming up the air conditioned air. As a result, the AC has to exert more to maintain the same degree of cooling. Attic insulation effectively resolves this problem by adding a layer of insulation in the attic space. This insulation plays a dual role. At one hand, it prevents cool air from escaping into the attic and through the walls. At the other hand, it traps the heat and stops it from seeping into the living space. In this way, attic insulation helps you achieve comfortably cool interiors without overburdening your air conditioning.


  • Air Duct Leaks

Duct leakage is an issue because damaged ducts reduce the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems. These leaks will either pull conditioned air out of the ducts or pull unconditioned/dirty air in. Either way, this has two possible setbacks: It impacts the temperature of the air entering your home, no matter what you have the thermostat set to.



The Best Temperature Settings for Summer

To stay comfortable and save money this summer, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends setting your thermostat to 78F when you are home. Setting your air conditioner to this level will allow you to stay cool, avoid unusually high electricity bills, and protect the life of your A/C unit.

If you still find yourself looking for relief, you can invest in a dehumidifier and follow our “cool” tips below.

Tips to Cool Your Home This Summer

Although there is nothing you can do to control the outside temperature, there are several things to prevent the hot air from coming inside:

  • Keep your blinds closed during the day
  • Install ceiling fans
  • Run appliances like your washer, dryer and dishwasher at night
  • Grill outside instead of turning on the stove or oven
  • Set your thermostat higher so your a/c unit gets a break
  • Change you air filter
  • Cut back any shrubs or debris around your outdoor unit
  • Hose down condenser with hose
  • Do not close off vents, your system needs to dispense air evenly without too much pressure


Final Thoughts

Like any mechanical system, your HVAC needs to be maintained. The majority of service calls we receive in the Summer can be prevented with maintenance in the Spring.

If you have been lucky enough to not have an emergency so far, you should seriously consider call us here at Aire-Tech to have your system cleaned and checked. It still may not make it cooler in your home, but it will at least keep it from failing from overworking. Perhaps you need repairs, new thermostat installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help. If your system needs repair or inspection before summer, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.