My central air conditioning isn’t cooling my house enough! What can I do?

Is it normal for my air conditioner to be running, but my house isn’t getting cool?

Your air conditioner is cooling, but not cooling enough and not keeping your house at the desired temperature. You may be happy to know that most of the time this is not going to be a serious problem. Here are some tips you can do yourself to help keep your house cool!

There are actually multiple explanations as to what could be going on. The first thing that comes to mind is to take a really good inventory about what’s actually going on.
If you have a problem with your air conditioner not cooling the way it should, don’t touch anything. Don’t adjust the thermostat… make it high, make it low, turn it off, turn it back on. This could cause other things to go wrong.

First, take an inventory of what’s going on. Go to the thermostat. Is it set on cooling? What temp is it set at? What’s the room temp? What’s working and not working? Is there air coming out of the registers? Is the outside unit blowing air? What is the temperature coming out of the air register? Is it cool, room temp or warm? This is the hot air being moved from inside the house to outside, so this is usually warm air.

If this all seems to be working, the unit may need maintenance. Often, coils that get dirty out in the yard that can no longer displace heat as they should. There may be filters that aren’t allowing air to circulate properly that can affect the output of the air conditioner.

If the problem is a maintenance issue, you’ll want that taken care of by a professional. There will be high voltage electricity involved, refrigerants at high pressure and a lot of components that can be damaged if they aren’t washed out properly. When you get into that situation, don’t fear the worst. It’s probably something pretty simple. It may not be something very expensive or traumatic. In fact, your unit is costing you money because it’s probably using a lot more electricity than it needs to for what it’s actually able to delver to you. So don’t tolerate an air conditioner that isn’t cutting it or making you comfortable. Have it looked at, you’re gonna be money ahead, every time.

Two simple checks you can do yourself.

Two simple things to check if your home’s air conditioner is not cooling enough. If your air conditioner is cooling, but not cooling very well or enough, you want to check two simple things before calling anyone to fix your air conditioner.

The first thing to check is your furnace air filter. A dirty air filter can restrict air flow and cause your air conditioner to not cool well. You might see a matt of dust and dirt that will restrict air flow. It can cut down flow to the point where it can affect how well it can cool. The furnace air filter is very easy to change yourself. A clogged filter often cause air conditioners to not cool enough especially in very hot seasons.

Go outside and look at the outdoor unit. If it’s crowded by bushes or foliage, that could restrict air flow. Trim it back a few feet. There should be at least 6 to 8 feet of clearance above the unit to ensure good air flow so that warm air can be pushed out and away from the home.

Is there dirt on the condenser coil? Look down and up into the condensing unit make sure it is not dirty with dust, or dirt and debris from nearby trees and bushes. You should see the surface of an alumnim coil and that can be a main reason why an air conditioning unit won’t be cooling well. If the outdoor coil is clogged with dirt and debris, this can cause the air conditioner to not cool enough.

If you find that your outdoor condensing coil is clogged, we always recommend calling a professional if you are not trained to work on air conditioners. It is possible to wash out an air conditioner in a way that can damage some of the components.

Is there anything else I can do to improve the cooling in my house besides professional maintenance?

The ductwork is sweating down in the basement. Condensation is dripping in the basement. That’s not normal. Sometimes a basement window will get cracked open… you may forget that. This will allow an endless amount of humidity into your basement in the summer. Make sure your basement windows are closed.

The system may be operating properly and the refrigerant may not be low, but this is the only place where you put your filter that allows the hot air to be sucked out of your unit and if the filter restricts air flow the hot air will be trapped inside the unit and cause it to take longer to cool down.

Make sure the storm windows in the upper stories of the house are closed. This will help to insulate those upper stories and to keep the heat out and the cool air in.