We are right in the throes of summer, and your air conditioner is working its hardest to keep you comfortable indoors.
Wait, you mean it isn’t? Your air conditioner isn’t actually keeping you nice and cool? Understandably, this is a very frustrating problem for you to have–after all, your air conditioner has one job, right?
There can be a number of different reasons this might be happening, some of which are a bit more serious than others. Unfortunately, we don’t have a super quick answer to whether or not you should shut your air conditioner off if you notice it’s not cooling, because the truth is, it depends! But fortunately, we’re about to tell you what it depends on. Read on!
Is Your Air Filter Clogged?
First, we want you to go check the state of your air filter. You might be wondering why–isn’t the air filter just there to protect your indoor air quality? While having this air filter in place certainly helps with indoor air quality, the standard HVAC air filter is there to protect the system itself from dust, dirt, and other debris that can get inside and damage its components.
Essentially, this air filter’s purpose is to filter out the air being drawn into your air conditioner from your home. Eventually, it gets clogged up with dust, dirt, pet dander if you have pets, and more. This restricts airflow, and when airflow is restricted, it may not feel as cool as it should be in your home.
These air filters are meant to be changed by you, the homeowner, every 1-3 months during periods of use. If you haven’t looked at yours in several weeks, it’s time to take a peak. If you change or clean it and your air conditioner still isn’t cooling, then it’s time for another check: your thermostat.
Is Your Thermostat Set Correctly? Is It Working Correctly?
Sometimes, an air conditioning problem isn’t a problem with the system at all, but rather with the thermostat. Someone in your household might have unintentionally (or intentionally!) set your thermostat to a higher temperature than you prefer, or the thermostat could even be miscalibrated.
Check your thermostat, ensure it’s not on “fan-only” mode and it’s set to the temperature you prefer, and then give it a cycle or two to see if that improves the situation.
Still a no-go? Okay, now we’re looking at a potentially more serious problem… a refrigerant leak.
Could You Have a Refrigerant Leak?
Refrigerant is the chemical substance that makes the cooling process possible. Upon manufacturing, your air conditioner is supplied with enough refrigerant to ideally last its entire lifespan. But due to age, lack of maintenance, and/or even a manufacturer defect, a refrigerant leak can occur.
When this happens, there’s not enough cold refrigerant inside the evaporator coil to absorb the heat from your indoor living space. Therefore, the heat will sit in your home and the air being returned won’t be as cool as it’s meant to be.
Continuing to run an air conditioner with a refrigerant leak can eventually lead to a compressor breakdown–and since the compressor is the most vital part of your air conditioner this can mean premature system replacement.
So, if your air conditioner isn’t cooling, and you suspect a refrigerant leak, or if you’ve checked the air filter and thermostat to no avail, yes, you should shut your air conditioner off and call us right away.