Everybody in Napa loves an air conditioner, but only when it’s working correctly. When an air conditioner blows hot air, it creates more problems than it solves and can be deeply frustrating for the owner. If you’ve recently experienced this unpleasant phenomenon, you’re probably trying to find any information that could help you learn what’s going on and allow you to pursue a practical solution. Fortunately, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about why this happens and how to handle it.
When an air conditioner is blowing hot air, it’s a sign that one of several things is wrong. Each of the potential causes for this problem has their unique symptoms, so it helps to learn the signs of them all. The following is a list of reasons why your air conditioner might be blowing hot, along with information you can use to narrow down the possibilities.
Why Your Air Conditioner Blows Hot Air: The Top 5 Reasons
1) Your thermostat is set improperly
It might sound silly, but you can trace many air conditioner “problems” back to simple user errors instead of mechanical failures. Your thermostat is to your air conditioner what your brain is to your body — it provides the information that the rest of the apparatus relies on to act. Just like a functioning body can do nothing without a healthy brain to control it, your air conditioner cannot perform effectively without proper thermostat settings. Before you panic about the warm air blowing through the vents, make sure you check the thermostat to see that it has power and is set to the correct temperature.
How to recognize it: look at the screen on your thermostat. This one’s pretty easy.
2) The airflow in the system is restricted
If the thermostat is like the brain of your air conditioner, the ducts are like its blood vessels. They are responsible for circulating air through the system so that it can function adequately, improving its quality and temperature before sending it back into the rooms of your home. When a passage is blocked, treated air will be prevented from moving through the passage and will fail to reach the interior of your home. As such, you may only feel a trickle of air from the vents, which will probably have been warmed by the atmosphere around it by the time it reaches you.
How to recognize it: put a hand in front of your vents. If the flow of air feels weaker than usual, there could be a blockage. Smell the air, too — material blocking a duct often affects the odor of the air that manages to make it out and into your home.
3) There’s an electrical problem with your outdoor unit
The outdoor unit of your air conditioner is powered by electricity and houses components that play an essential role in the cooling process. If the circuit breaker that allows electricity to reach the outdoor unit is tripped, the attendant fuse is blown, or the wiring that makes up the rest of the circuit is damaged, then the outdoor unit will cease to function, and the cooling process will not take place. The blower fan may continue to move air throughout the ducts in your system, but this air will be warm and unsatisfying.
How to recognize it: if air is still blowing at full force throughout the system but it’s not cool at all, there’s a good chance something is wrong with your outdoor unit. Call a professional (and an electrician if necessary) to confirm your suspicions.
4) Your system is running low on refrigerant
The chemical at the heart of the cooling cycle is called refrigerant. It usually contains freon, which undergoes several changes in state as it moves throughout various parts of your HVAC. As refrigerant changes from a liquid to a gas and back again, it absorbs heat from the air in your home and releases it to the outside. Without enough refrigerant in the system, this process cannot take place.
How to recognize it: look for leaking refrigerant near your indoor unit and check the refrigerant lines if you know how. If not, contact a licensed professional and have them conduct a thorough investigation of the lines.
5) The compressor in your system is failing
It’s probably fair to call the compressor the heart of your air conditioner. In much the same way that your heart pumps blood through your body, the compressor squeezes refrigerant as it passes through and performs a necessary part of the cooling cycle. If your compressor has failed, it requires replacement as soon as possible. Luckily, compressor failure usually only happens for one of two reasons: either it’s old and at the end of its lifespan, or other simpler problems have been neglected for too long. Avoid the latter issue by performing regular preventative maintenance on your HVAC and scheduling professional service calls once or twice each year.
How to recognize it: if your compressor is on the blink, you’ll know. Loud noises will often accompany the warm air coming from your system as its interior components break. Stop using the system immediately and call for help.
Now you should know why your air conditioner blows hot air — so make sure you take the steps necessary to address the problem. Anything beyond a thermostat mistake is probably going to require professional assistance, but don’t worry: the benefits of calling for help will outweigh the costs of a service call by far when you can experience fresh, cold air in your home again.