People who live in hot-weather locations know how important it is to have a running, operable AC unit, especially for the hot summer months. Since temperatures often climb to over 100 degrees, the thought of a broken air conditioning system can strike fear in the hearts of those living in the extreme heat. Thankfully, there are some reliable signs to look for when evaluating whether a unit can make it through the hottest days of summer. Take a look at the following to stay prepared:
1. The system is constantly running.
In most HVAC systems, the unit is triggered when the temperature in the home reaches a certain point. When the house is too warm, the unit will turn on and work to cool the rooms. Once a desired temperature is achieved, the system should power off, until it is needed again.
If you notice that the unit has not shut off after 10 or 15 minutes, you may have a system that is not operating correctly. Units that run constantly are generally not able to achieve the desired temperature. Less common, but still possible, is that the signal is not functioning properly, and it is cooling the home too much. In either case, a unit that does not power off periodically is in danger of breaking down from overuse.
2. Different rooms cool at different paces.
Unless you close a vent in a room, each room should cool down relatively quickly in relation to comparable rooms. Of course, variations exist due to proximity and location of rooms to heat sources, like an adjoining garage, as well as the size of the room. However, if you notice that certain areas are cooling less quickly than before, you may have an issue with your system.
3. It takes longer to cool the house.
It is normal for the house to take longer to cool if it is particularly hot. However, if you notice that your AC unit is running more often than not, you could be entering the danger zone for broken systems. When the house cools more slowly, refrigerant could be the culprit. Other reasons to consider include a slower running fan or a leak. Calling someone to take a look at the unit could be helpful in assessing whether you need to look for a replacement.
4. The temperature is five degrees higher than the set temperature.
Some people are surprised to learn that on very hot days, some units cannot keep up with a desired temperature. For instance, if the setting is set to 76 degrees, then the house may not cool below 80 degrees during the hottest hours of the day. This can cause some alarm. Whether your home can maintain the proper setting depends entirely upon the system and the home’s insulation. It is usually not something to worry about unless the house never cools down to the desired setting. Check your unit once the hottest part of the day subsides. More modern, efficient units can mitigate these problems.
5. You find water underneath the unit outside.
Water pooling beneath an AC unit is usually not a good sign. There are a number of reasons why water will collect beneath the unit, including improper installation, a faulty condensation pump, and a plugged drain hole. Regardless of the reason, pooled water can cause mold and mildew to grow within your unit, which can be a serious problem. If you notice water, you should contact an HVAC repair person as soon as possible.