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(707) 539-4533 |  Sonoma Napa and Marin Counties

How much attention do you pay to the air vents in your home? For most homeowners, the answer is “almost none at all” — at least until something goes wrong. You may simply dial in your preferred temperature on the thermostat and go back about your business. Later, though, one unsettling fact becomes clear: your home isn’t cooling off — it’s getting hotter. If you put your hand near one of the vents and discover that your AC is blowing hot air, it can send your mind racing. 

Will this mean an unexpected repair bill? The answer can vary; there are several reasons this could happen. What does it mean when your AC doesn’t blow cold air at all?

Your Filter May Be Very Dirty

Has it been more than a few months since the last time you changed the air filter for your AC? What if you can’t even remember when the last time you swapped it? When filters become severely dirty, the amount of dust and dirt trapped inside them can cause actual clogs. When that happens, the amount of air flowing through the filter and into the system is far less than it should be in normal operation.

If your AC is blowing hot air, check the status of your filter first. Although this is not often the root cause of warm air emanating from your vents, it could be the culprit — and it is the easiest fix. If you do discover a clogged air filter, change it immediately. Your system uses more electricity and creates more wear and tear on its parts when its filter has been clogged.

Your AC System Might Have Frozen

When refrigerant does not circulate in your AC as it should in regular operation, components can “freeze up” due to the extremely cold temperatures they generate. When that happens, the parts of the system that should cool the air and help to lower the temperature in your home cannot work correctly. There are many potential causes for this, such as broken blower fans or clogged valves.

You Could Have a Refrigerant Leak

If there is not sufficient chemical refrigerant in circulation inside your air conditioner, you won’t experience the normal cooling cycle. In normal circumstances, your AC never needs a “recharge” or additional refrigerant. However, leaks can and do develop in important transfer lines throughout an air conditioner’s expected lifespan. When that happens, refrigerant can escape to the atmosphere slowly — so you may not notice the problem until the refrigerant pressure drops so much that there is not enough to compress and expand effectively.

Don’t accept a simple “recharge” service when you receive a diagnosis of low refrigerant. Instead of solving the real problem, you will only delay the inevitable — and you’ll need to pay for additional service later. Instead, choose a contractor with the capabilities to detect and repair leaks before topping off your air conditioner again. 

The Compressor Might Need Repair or Replacement

A critical part of the refrigeration cycle is the expansion of the chemical refrigerant within the cooling coils of your AC. To do so effectively, it must undergo a substantial amount of compression first. When the compressor inside your outdoor unit loses effectiveness or starts to break down, it will not be able to achieve the appropriate level of refrigerant compression. The result is an incomplete cycle that does not produce the cool air that you expect from the system. Only a licensed contractor can assess the health of your compressor.

Your AC Might Be Too Old

Sometimes the issue isn’t anyone problem but a combination of multiple factors brought on by the age of your unit. Over time, ACs become less efficient and less capable of battling back against hot weather. If your system has begun to blow hot air and you cannot isolate one of the more minor issues, it may be time to consider replacement with a newer and more efficient model. Balance the cost of a repair, and the potential for multiple additional repairs in the future, against the cost of a replacement, and analyze what potential energy savings you might gain, too.

The Help You Need When Your AC is Blowing Hot Air

Sometimes, a quick change of your filter can be all you need to improve airflow, un-freeze the system, and start enjoying cool air again. However, as we’ve seen, there are other scenarios where the issue may lie deeper in the cooling equipment you rely upon every day. When your AC is blowing hot air, it’s essential to select a licensed and insured contractor in your local area. Learn about how to make smart choices and where to find the help you need today so you can enjoy a comfortable home again without delay.