pure air in your home

Is Your AC Working Well?

by Feride Halma

In the hottest months of the summer, even great air conditioners can struggle to tackle the heat. Most residential air conditioners are designed to drop the temperature by about 20 degrees. (Try to make sure you're adjusting your temperature with the outside heat, or you could burn out the motor or do other damage to your AC unit.)

You do know, however, that not getting enough cooling done is potentially a sign of when your air conditioner might need some work done, right? What are some ways to tell?

Well, in the first place, you might want to check the air intake. You may need a filter changed. While you may have heard that this is something you only need to do once a year, higher quality filters that catch more stuff (pet dander and allergens, specifically) may fill up faster and need to be changed. A good way to check is to hold a piece of paper up to the intake. The intake should draw it to the vent and hold it firmly in place. If not, you may need to check the filter. If you've replaced the filter and are still having this problem, then you might need to call someone out. There could be something clogging your ventilation system. Without being able to take in the amount of air it needs, your system won't be able to do the kind of cooling it needs.

Another thing to check is how cool the air coming out of your vents is. Now, this may be difficult to check. If you have a 'fan only' option, you can switch the system over to the fan. The fan option should, on a warm day, blow significantly warmer air than what your vents blow when the air conditioner is on. If they feel pretty close in temperature, then that's a sign your air conditioner is struggling with more than just the heat. It may need more coolant or other maintenance.

Also, when was the last time you looked at your outside unit? Even if it's in a common area of the yard, there's seeing it and actually doing an examination. Just give it a good once over. If nothing else, it's helpful to familiarize yourself with how it looks. Looking down inside may reveal subtle animal damage- rodents can chew through wires, for example - or other issues.

In the end, if you're not sure, it's probably a good idea to have someone come out and take a look to perform your AC repair. There's likely some basic maintenance that needs to be done anyway, and they can at least top off your coolant and give it a once over.