The extreme Las Vegas heat makes it essential for your home’s air conditioning to keep functioning effectively. Without a working AC system, your residence could quickly become so hot that it puts you at a risk of heat stroke. Consequently, it’s important that you regularly monitor your AC system to ensure it is cooling effectively and doesn’t have any major issues. An air conditioning system that stops putting out cold air is an obvious and serious problem, but it may be something you can solve on your own fairly easily. Regardless of whether you have a traditional central AC unit or a heat pump that stops blowing cold air, here are the issues you should check for and how each can be fixed.
1. Air Filter Is Clogged
Any time your AC stops blowing cold air, the very first thing you should do is check the condition of the air filter and replace it if it looks black or is covered in a thick layer of accumulated particles. An HVAC air filter works to prevent dust, hair, and debris from getting inside the system and potentially damaging or gumming up the various components like the blower fan and evaporator coil.
During the hottest parts of the year when your AC runs for hours every day, the air filter can quickly collect so much dust and debris that it becomes almost completely blocked. When the filter is overly dirty and clogged, this drastically limits how much air can flow through it.
A clogged filter will make it so that the blower can draw almost no warm air into the system. If there is very little warm air coming in, it will result in little to no cold air coming out of your vents. This is why it is important that you check the condition of your air filter every week or so during the summer and replace the filter whenever it starts to look dark or overly dirty.
In cooler climates, you can usually get away with only replacing your air filter once every two or three months. In the Las Vegas area, however, it is usually best to replace your air filter every four to six weeks instead. This is both because the extreme heat means your AC will run much more often and also because the dusty, desert climate will cause the filter to clog more quickly.
If you don’t replace the air filter often enough, your AC will soon start putting out less and less cold air. This will result in your AC staying on for much longer at a time, which leads to both increased energy usage and greater wear and tear. A clogged filter also puts lots of additional strain on the blower and can cause the motor to overheat, in which case your AC will automatically shut off to prevent damage to the motor and the potential fire risk that can result from overheating.
2. Evaporator Coil Is Frozen
When you’re replacing the air filter, you should also look inside your air handler compartment to see if there is ice built up on the AC evaporator coil. A frozen evaporator coil will prevent your AC from cooling at all, which means warm air will quickly start blowing out of all your vents. If you do see any frost or ice on the evaporator coil, you will want to shut off your AC immediately. To do this, simply switch the thermostat from cooling mode to OFF. However, you may want to switch the fan setting on the thermostat from AUTO to ON. Doing so will allow the blower to continue to run and circulate warm air through your ductwork to help all the ice on the coil melt more quickly.
There is no point in leaving the AC unit running since it won’t provide any cooling until the evaporator coil has fully thawed out. If the unit continues to run, more and more ice will continually build up on the coil and you’ll have to wait even longer for it to thaw out. Still, the main reason that you should shut the outdoor unit off is that serious damage can occur to the unit’s compressor motor if it runs when the evaporator coil is frozen.
Running the system when the coil is frozen can lead to liquid refrigerant flowing into the compressor. This in turn can lead to some of the oil in the motor burning off and the motor potentially seizing up or burning out due to a lack of lubrication. This is an extremely serious issue since the compressor motor cannot be repaired. As a result, you will usually end up needing to replace the entire outdoor unit because replacing a burnt-out compressor motor will typically cost about the same price.
An evaporator coil can freeze for a few different reasons. A clogged air filter can cause the coil to freeze since it can prevent enough warm air from getting into the system. The same can also occur if the blower has any issues preventing it from pulling enough air in. The coil can also freeze if there isn’t enough refrigerant in the system or if the coil is covered in too much dust, which will insulate it from the warm air. If the coil doesn’t freeze again after replacing the air filter, you typically have nothing to worry about. If the coil quickly freezes up again, you definitely need to have the system inspected by a professional technician as soon as possible.
3. Blower Isn’t Working Properly
If you’ve replaced the air filter and you still notice that very little air is coming out of your vents, it may be that the blower motor isn’t working properly and is unable to circulate enough air through the system. This can happen when the bearings that drive the motor start to wear out, or it could simply be because the motor is old and needs to be replaced. Dust and debris coating the blower can also greatly reduce how much air it can circulate. All of these potential issues will need to be diagnosed and corrected by a certified AC technician.
4. Outdoor AC Unit or Heat Pump Isn’t Running
The other thing we would recommend doing whenever your AC stops putting out cold air is to go outside and make sure that the outdoor unit is running. If the blower inside is running and the outdoor unit isn’t, it typically means that the unit has some sort of electrical issue that is either preventing it from starting or preventing the signal from the thermostat from reaching the unit. Again, the only way to know for sure why your outdoor unit won’t turn on is to have it inspected by an AC technician.
At Polar Air & Heating, Inc., we specialize in AC and heat pump repair and can quickly diagnose any problems you may have. We also offer expert AC maintenance and installation services, and our team can take care of any of your heating or indoor air quality needs as well. To learn more or schedule an AC inspection anywhere in the Las Vegas area, contact us today.