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5 Reasons Your AC May Not Work at Top Capacity

If you’ve ever felt like your air conditioner isn’t keeping up, you’re not alone. This is something almost every Austin homeowner deals with at some point. There are many reasons your AC might not be working at top capacity. That doesn’t make it any less frustrating!

The fact is, there are several potential points of failure in an air conditioning system. 

It’s important to remember that air conditioners are complex machines. They require routine care to sustain their most efficient functioning year-round. And consider that your air conditioner is just one part of your home’s HVAC system.

An HVAC system is comprised of your air conditioning unit itself, an air handler or furnace, evaporator coils, an airflow system (usually ducts), a filter, and a thermostat. Inside your air conditioning unit, you also have a complex system of parts that work together to provide cold air to the components inside your home.

If one part of your HVAC system is compromised, you’re left with a stuffy living space, not to mention a higher energy bill.

While it’s understandable that such a complex system will experience minor malfunctions and general wear and tear over time, there are some early warning signs that homeowners can watch for.

With a little detective work, you can improve the operation of your AC – a critical home appliance in Austin! Let’s look at the five most common reasons your AC might not be functioning at top capacity.

1. The Air Conditioner Doesn’t Fit Your Home

Air conditioning systems are anything but one-size-fits-all. The air conditioner that functions perfectly in your neighbor’s home might not be the right one for you. Instead, think of your AC system as a custom-built add-on to your home’s existing structure.

When properly installed, a contractor will design and install your AC system to work with your home’s strengths, building ductwork in convenient places for optimized cooling. If you purchase a system that’s too small or too big, it will be difficult to maintain a pleasant temperature in the home.

A sign that your AC is too large for your home is hot spots. It sounds counterintuitive, but an AC that is too large will cycle on and off quickly. This leads to certain rooms not receiving the right amount of cool air to sustain your desired temperature. 

If an AC is too small, it will run continuously. This could result in high energy bills. Plus, an undersized air conditioner will have a shorter lifespan due to the longer hours of operation.

2. The Air Conditioner’s Refrigerant isn’t Properly Charged

As your air conditioning unit cools your home, it uses a chemical coolant known as refrigerant. While refrigerant doesn’t get used up over time, it is possible for your AC unit to develop a crack or leak, causing refrigerant to escape. If this happens, you’ll notice a decrease in the cold air output of your unit along with a warmer home.

If you notice a high-pitched whistling sound coming from your evaporator, it might be a leak. Contact McCullough to schedule an emergency repair.

To fix this issue, technicians will recharge the refrigerant to your unit’s factory specifications and fix the leak. Even small drops in refrigerant levels can have a significant effect on your AC unit’s performance. 

3. The Fan Speed Is Not Optimized

Did you know that your AC’s fan has more than one setting? Just like a ceiling fan, any modern blower will have at least three settings: low, medium, and high. 

Many AC systems use a default factory setting for their fan speed. Technicians that service your system should adjust the speed to fit your home’s specific needs. 

But if that hasn’t happened, it could cause comfort problems. For example, a fan speed set too high could result in an overactive AC unit. That will cost you more money than necessary. Improper fan speed can also contribute to the humidity levels in your home, leading to even more discomfort.

4. Your Home’s Airflow System is Underperforming

Whether you have ducts, returns, registers, or all three, improper airflow can significantly impact the effectiveness of your AC system. This can be a serious problem in older homes as well as homes with additions.

An airflow system that has been designed well will minimize duct exchanges, bends, and other interruptions in the path that cold air takes from your AC unit to the rooms of your home. Improper airflow can even damage your AC unit and cost you more money.

5. Your Air Ducts are Leaking

Besides improper airflow from poorly designed ductwork, you could have air duct leakage. Leakage occurs when a duct system isn’t sealed properly or when sealant cracks. An airflow duct with leaks can allow hot air into the system, overriding the AC unit and altering the temperature of your home.

A technician can perform a test to check the status of your home’s airflow system and locate the source of any air leakage.

If you feel like your home’s air conditioning system isn’t functioning at top capacity, reach out to the experts at McCullough Heating and Air at (512) 280-0011. Our NATE-certified technicians can help you diagnose performance issues and return your home to its optimal comfort level.