What could be worse? In the dead of summer, you’re counting on your air conditioning unit to keep the temperature inside your house bearable, and yet, it’s suddenly blowing hot air. What’s the problem, and how can you resolve it and get back your crisp, cool, air-conditioned air?
There are always a few potential reasons for an air conditioning system that is blowing warm air. Your best bet is usually to consult an HVAC professional about the issue. Someone who has experience with these systems can quickly isolate the problem and recommend a fix. If you want to check on a few potential causes, though, we’ve listed some of the top culprits below.
- Your thermostat is set incorrectly: The simplest and most straightforward to fix the cause of an AC unit blowing hot air is to adjust the thermostat. Look at your thermostat and see where it is set. Is the temperature set higher than you want it? Perhaps it’s set to “heat” rather than “cool”? You may have accidentally switched on the wrong function, or the thermostat could have been bumped at some point. Any of these issues can lead to temperature issues in your home. The good news is they can all be fixed by simply adjusting the thermostat. Even if you are pretty sure the thermostat isn’t the culprit, it’s always good to start there, as doing so might save you a visit from an HVAC professional. Thermostats are finicky, so you never know.
- Your air conditioning unit isn’t getting any electricity: Once you’ve determined that the thermostat is not the problem, take a stroll outside and observe your outdoor AC unit. Does the unit seem to be running? Is the fan spinning? Can you hear the compressor operating? If you can’t, then there’s a chance the unit isn’t getting any electricity. If your outdoor unit isn’t getting any power, then the indoor part of the system can’t blow cold air. Check the circuit breaker to see if the circuit for the air conditioning system is on. If you recently bought a home, there’s a possibility the sellers switched off the AC circuit before they moved—especially if you bought in the winter or the spring. Switching it back on will restore power to the AC system and should get cool air flowing in your house again. If the circuit is switched on, but the outdoor unit still isn’t getting any power, then the air conditioner probably tripped the breaker. You can restore power by turning the circuit off and then switching it back on again, but you will still probably want to consult with an HVAC professional. An AC unit should not be causing the breaker to trip.
- There are blockages in your HVAC system: When was the last time you had your entire HVAC system cleaned and serviced? If it’s been awhile, then a system blockage could be causing your AC unit to blow hot air. Buildups of dust and debris in the vents, the ductwork, the air filter, or even the air conditioning unit’s coils can slow the system down and impede airflow. Blockages also force the AC unit to work that much harder to pump cold air, which you should see reflected in your monthly energy bills. If your system is blowing hot air and you are paying higher energy bills than you used to, it’s time to call an HVAC professional for a thorough inspection, servicing and cleaning.
- Your air conditioning unit is damaged or failing: Ideally, you will be able to restore cool air to your home by addressing one of the issues cited above. If none of those problems are the culprit, though, then your air conditioning system might be on its last legs. Perhaps the compressor is failing, or maybe the system is outdated and obsolete. Either way, you should call an HVAC professional to inspect your unit and provide an opinion on the matter. It could be that your system is just damaged, or that is hasn’t been properly maintained recently. Issues such as breaks in your ductwork or low refrigerant levels in the compressor can cause an AC unit to blow warm air and can be repaired without breaking the bank. If your HVAC consultant does recommend that you replace your AC unit, though, you should go ahead and make the investment. Ultimately, it will cost less to buy a new, efficient system than it will to keep repairing a failing unit.
Avoid a Situation Where Your Air Conditioner is Blowing Hot Air, by Keeping up with Your HVAC Maintenance
Any of the issues mentioned above could have been identified and fixed early on through regular HVAC maintenance. Before your AC system starts blowing hot air, it will usually exhibit other warning signs, such as rising energy costs or dust on your vents. Having an HVAC professional stop by annually to inspect, clean and service your AC unit and overall HVAC system will keep every running in tip-top shape for longer.