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Are Sizzling Temperatures Causing Your AC To Fizzle Out?

by Feride Halma

Many people brave summer temperatures with minimal air conditioning usage, but almost everyone agrees that air conditioners are lifesavers during sizzling heat waves. Unfortunately, these high temperatures can strain your air conditioning system the most. Turning on your AC during a brutal heat wave only to discover it fizzling out can be frustrating and uncomfortable. 

Many air conditioning issues may go unnoticed, only to rear their heads as temperatures climb. You might not notice a little extra heat and humidity on an average summer day, but you'll certainly feel the difference when the mercury starts reaching for the sky. Keep reading to understand why your system might let you down on these downs and how you can start enjoying cooler temperatures again!

Does Heat Affect Your Air Conditioner?

Residential air conditioners can generally withstand relatively high temperatures. While your condenser unit must sit outside and face the searing heat all day, the large condenser fan will help keep the unit (and the critical compressor) cool. Electrical components like your capacitor may fail in hot weather, but these failures typically only occur with older capacitors already near their failing point.

However, high temperatures mean a greater cooling load on your home. In other words, the air in your home will heat up more quickly and intensely. As a result, your air conditioner will need to work harder and longer to remove that heat and maintain your thermostat setpoint. These longer operating cycles can stress your system and may expose some existing problems.

What Are the Symptoms of an Overworked System?

Short cycling is the most common and obvious symptom of an overworked air conditioning system. A short-cycling air conditioner typically runs in relatively brief cycles, shutting down before successfully cooling your home. You may find that the temperature in your home never drops more than a few degrees, no matter how low you set your thermostat.

Short cycling often occurs due to ice forming on the evaporator coil. Restricted airflow, refrigerant leaks, or refrigerant restrictions can result in reduced evaporator temperatures, creating ice that reduces efficiency and impacts the refrigerant cycle. The refrigerant will eventually fail to vaporize at the evaporator coil, stressing the compressor and causing it to shut down before completing a cooling cycle.

What Should You Do If Your System Can't Keep Up?

An air conditioning system that struggles or short cycles on exceptionally hot days is more than a minor problem. Even if your system can still bring the temperature in your home down a few degrees, short cycling behavior can strain critical system components and even cause serious damage. A frozen evaporator coil can be particularly dangerous since liquid refrigerant can damage your compressor.

While you can continue to use a short cycling air conditioner if temperatures are especially hot, you should minimize your system usage until you can schedule a visit with an HVAC technician. The less you use your system, the less likely you will be to cause premature wear to essential components.

Reach out to an AC repair service to learn more.