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Why is My AC Air Not as Cold as It Used to Be?

The sweltering summer heat is upon us once again here in Ohio and Indiana. As the temperatures soar, there’s nothing more refreshing than walking into a nicely air-conditioned home after being out in that soupy mess.

But what if your trusty air conditioning system seems to be losing its cool? You settle in for some chilled indoor relaxation only to be met with lukewarm, lackluster airflow from the vents. Uh oh, something’s definitely amiss when that frigid blast you’re accustomed to is barely mustering a mild breeze.

An air conditioner unable to keep up and deliver the icy air it once could is actually one of the more common complaints HVAC professionals hear as summer wears on. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common reasons why ACs lose their cooling power, such as potential mechanical failures, electrical issues, airflow blockages, and environmental factors.

Don’t worry though, it’s not all doom and gloom! You’ll also learn some maintenance steps to incorporate into your routine to prevent issues from cropping up in the first place! But if issues do occur, we will guide you on some troubleshooting steps you can take as a homeowner before deciding whether to call in the professionals.

Once we pinpoint what’s behind your AC’s diminished icy blast, we can get that refreshing, revitalizing air flowing again.


Common Reasons for Reduced AC Efficiency

Time to take a closer look at some of the most common reasons why your AC isn’t blowing that refreshingly crisp air like it once did. These culprits could be slowly robbing your system of its full cooling potential.

Clogged Air Filters

One of the simplest factors, but also an easy one to overlook – your air filters. When they get caked up with dust, pollen, and debris over time, that buildup drastically restricts airflow through the system. Without proper airflow, your AC’s cooling coils can’t do their job effectively. 

You’ll likely notice discoloration of the filter from a fresh white to a dingier gray. Or you may even feel diminished airflow just by holding your hand up to the return vent. In our region, we have to be diligent about checking filters monthly and replacing them every 2-3 months due to allergens and dust circulating.

Refrigerant Leaks

The refrigerant is the lifeblood allowing your AC to absorb indoor heat and expel it back outside, creating that refreshing cooled air. But if enough of that chemical refrigerant leaks out over time, it really hampers the whole heat transfer process. 

Minor leaks from cracks or worn connections seem harmless at first, but they can progressively worsen until your cooling suffers. You may hear hissing noises or notice bubbling around the lines. 

Recharging refrigerant requires professional licensing due to EPA regulations in our area, so leaks demand an expert’s attention.

Thermostat Accuracy

That humble thermostat controls all the temperature settings for your system to cycle on and off properly. But if it starts providing inaccurate readings or its calibration slips, your AC won’t know when to ramp up cooling. You may experience uneven room temperatures no matter the setting. Or in older thermostats, complete failure where no setting responds correctly. 

It’s worth checking thermostat leveling and connections for easy fixes before calling a technician. But a severely faulty or aged-out thermostat will likely require professional replacement.

So those are some of the typical suspects to investigate if your air conditioning just isn’t living up to its full-blast potential anymore.

External Factors Affecting AC Performance

Let’s be real – even with the most robust AC units installed, we’ve still got to contend with the unique climate challenges here in Ohio and Indiana. The weather patterns and home construction realities of our region can make it an uphill battle to maintain that perfect chill indoors.

Weather Conditions

Our summer scorchers are no joke, especially when you factor in that soupy, drain-you-of-your-will-to-live humidity we all know too well. Sure, dry heat is one thing, but these muggy, sticky blankets of hot air put a serious strain on residential AC systems just not designed for those conditions. 

The steamy outdoor air acts like insulation, counteracting every effort your cooling components make to extract the warm, moist air you’re trying to expel. No wonder units struggle under that onslaught!

Home Insulation

The insulation and air-sealing of your house plays a big role too in how well your AC can maintain cool temperatures. Even newly built homes can suffer from an imperfect installation that allows outdoor air to infiltrate through all those little cracks and gaps. One tiny draft may not seem like a big deal, but it’s the cumulative effect of warm exterior air constantly leaking inside that can overwhelm your system’s ability to compensate.

Landscaping Factors

Don’t forget about what’s happening outside your walls as well. The placement and surroundings of that exterior AC unit are crucial for ensuring it can do its job pushing all that absorbed warm air back outdoors. 

If it’s in direct sunlight, obstructed by bushes/trees, or too crowded against the home without adequate clearance, it severely limits that unit’s capacity to dissipate heat efficiently. Most experts recommend at least 5-6 feet of unobstructed space around the unit.

So while we may have thermostat technology dialed in perfectly, oftentimes it’s those uncontrolled outdoor factors sabotaging our ability to lock in that ideal indoor oasis setting. Being aware of humidity levels, air leaks, and landscaping impediments allows you to make adjustments and optimize your cooling system’s performance as much as possible given our climate realities.

DIY Preventive and Maintenance Measures

We’ve covered a lot of potential root causes that could be putting a damper on your air conditioning’s full chill capabilities.

But rather than throwing in the sweat towel, there are some proactive steps you can take to keep your system operating at peak performance levels year after year.

Regular Filter Replacement

This one’s Air Conditioning 101, but you’d be surprised how many people let it slide. Those air filters might be out of sight, out of mind – but they shouldn’t be out of your maintenance routine! Built-up dust, dander, pollen and debris on a clogged filter forces your system to work harder just to move air, putting extra strain on components.

Replacing filters is a total breeze. Most are just secured by a couple latches, so you slide out the old one and slip the new one in its place. Make sure it’s seated properly and you’re good to go! With our lovely Ohio and Indiana summer air quality, monthly replacement is recommended. Though checking them every 6-8 weeks is wise too if you have pets or dustier than average conditions.

Cleaning Coils

Speaking of filtering out gunk – don’t forget about those all-important AC coils! The evaporator coil inside and condenser coil outside are ground zero for heat transfer, so you want airflow across them as unobstructed as possible.

Using a soft brush and coil cleaner solution to gently remove built-up dirt and debris makes a big efficiency difference. Just don’t try anything too aggressive that could damage delicate fins or tube surfaces.

Checking Vents and Ducts

While you’re giving the coils some TLC, take a moment to ensure that airflow remains unobstructed all the way through your vent and duct system too.

Vacuum out any dust bunnies or debris you see clogging up grilles and vent covers – then go a step further by having your trunk lines professionally inspected for clogs every few years. Sealing up duct leaks with caulk or metal tape helps too.

Thermostat Settings

We all know the mantra – don’t crank that thermostat down to sub-arctic temps thinking it’ll cool faster! That just overshoots cooling demands and wastes energy.

For optimal control, set yours at your ideal comfort level (maybe 72-76°F) and use the auto setting to let the thermostat call for temporary cooling as interior temps fluctuate. If it’s reading inaccurately, some thermostat models allow easy recalibration.

Sealing and Insulating

While not directly related to your AC components, sealing up your home envelope goes a long way in helping it run efficiently. All those little gaps and cracks around windows, doors and exterior walls? They’re letting precious cooled air escape and make hot air infiltrate – making your system work overtime.

Do a weather seal audit and reseal anywhere drafts are coming through. Adding insulation to attics and walls provides an extra buffer too.

Little by little, these simple preventative measures seriously compound into reduced strain on your AC, lower energy costs, and sustained cooling comfort all season long. It sure beats waiting for something to break! A little DIY upkeep means more dry bucks in your wallet and less sweat equity to keep your home an oasis.

When to Call the Professionals

We’ve covered quite a few DIY steps you can take to keep your AC system humming along and nip little issues in the bud. But inevitably, there are going to be times when a professional’s expertise is simply required.

Knowing when to make that call can save you a ton of headaches and prevent further damage to your system.

Persistent Issues

If you’ve diligently worked through all the common homeowner troubleshooting tips but your AC still isn’t delivering consistent cooling, weak airflow, or is making concerning noises – it’s time to wave the white flag.

Recurring issues like refrigerant leaks that re-emerge after recharging are also signs of an underlying problem you won’t be able to easily diagnose and fix yourself. Don’t stubbornly keep fighting a battle you can’t win.

Complex Repairs

Let’s face it, there’s a limit to how much AC repair an average homeowner should comfortably take on themselves.

Once the issue seems to involve complex electrical problems, intricate mechanical failures like a seized compressor, or any workaround refrigerant lines – you’ve entered professional territory.

Trying to muscle through these types of repairs without proper training can quickly turn into an expensive mistake if not done with precise know-how. A professional diagnosis prevents further system damage.

Refrigerant Handling

Speaking of refrigerants, this is an area where DIY tinkering gets exceptionally risky – both for your safety and legally.

Refrigerants are regulated chemicals that require proper EPA certification to handle and dispose of. Working with them improperly can potentially expose you and your home to toxic gases and environmental hazards.

It’s never worth those kinds of risks when professionals have the licenses, recovery equipment, and protective gear to handle refrigerants safely.

System Tune-Ups

Even if your AC isn’t completely on the fritz, routine professional tune-ups ensure you’re squeezing every last drop of performance and efficiency out of it.

Technicians have the specialized tools and knowledge to comprehensively test all electrical sensors, check airflow rates, test refrigerant levels and pressure, and fine-tune every component for a synchronized optimal operation that you just can’t achieve on your own. Those small tweaks compound into significant energy savings.

Annual Maintenance

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Having your system thoroughly inspected by certified professionals at least once a year allows them to catch developing issues before they snowball into costlier breakdowns.

A typical maintenance visit includes meticulous coil and component cleaning, electrical testing, filter replacements, lubricating all moving parts, checking drainage, and an overall system performance analysis.

A consistent preventative maintenance routine keeps your system running reliably for years to come.

When to Consider Replacement

Even with the most diligent maintenance routine, no air conditioning system can keep its cool forever. At a certain point, time catches up and you’ve got to make the tough call – is it finally time to replace that old workhorse with a new model?

Age of the Unit

On average, most residential AC units are designed to deliver around 15-20 years of reliable service with proper care and conditions. 

Once yours starts pushing past that 15-year mark, it’s wise to start watching for signs that it could be on its last legs. Systems older than 10 years already suffer from lower efficiency and efficacy compared to modern standards.

If you find yourself shelling out big bucks for yet another repair after repair just to keep air moving, it may make more financial sense to cut your losses on the aging unit. Weird noises, weak airflow, spiking energy bills, and failing components are all red flags that replacement should be considered over repeatedly reviving that old soul.

Cost of Repairs vs Replacement

This leads us to one of the biggest factors – the cost calculation of another major repair versus just installing a new system entirely. 

Let’s say your 12-year-old AC suddenly needs an $800 compressor overhaul. That sounds like a lot…until you discover that a full system replacement would cost $3,500. In that case, the repair job may be worth extending your unit’s life a few more years.

On the flip side, if your 18-year-old unit needs a $1,200 fix, replacing it with a modern $4,000 system could be the smarter long-term investment. Many manufacturers and utilities also offer attractive financing packages to make that higher upfront cost more digestible. Rebates and assistance programs exist as well for qualifying Ohio and Indiana homeowners.

Technological Advancements

Of course, opting for a new system means you’ll benefit from all the latest advancements in AC technology and efficiency. Not only do new units cost less to operate month-to-month thanks to optimized energy usage, but features like variable-speed handlers and multi-stage compressors also maximize home cooling performance.

Smart thermostat integration allows for extremely precise temperature control and customized scheduling. Newer refrigerants are environmentally friendlier while delivering better heat transfer capabilities as well. From materials and sound quality down to overall reliability – everything about modern AC systems are engineered to provide superior cooling than your dated dinosaur.

So while parting ways with an old household appliance can be bittersweet, deteriorating performance and skyrocketing repair bills make little sense when you can invest in new HVAC technology that’s built to make your home energy efficient and supremely comfortable for years into the future. 

Whether you repair or replace is a personal consideration, knowing all your options ensures you make a smart decision.

Why Is My AC Not Cooling Like It Used to? Get Your AC’s Chill Factor Back

There you have it, folks – we’ve given you the most common reasons your AC might be struggling to keep up with cooling demands. We’ve also given you some DIY tips to get that cool air flowing through your home again.

While a little airflow faltering here and there might not seem like a big deal, it’s best to stay ahead of those small issues before they create a sweaty, miserable situation.

The key is being proactive with simple maintenance and prompt about calling in reinforcements when problems persist beyond your own abilities. An ounce of prevention like routine filter changes and coil cleanings goes a long way, but there’s just no substituting a trained professional’s eye when bigger electrical or mechanical snafus crop up.

When your AC starts faltering, don’t let things spiral into a hot, sticky living situation. Take back control by enlisting the pros at Bassett Services. Our certified HVAC team has seen it all and knows exactly how to diagnose AC woes correctly the first time. With us, you can really breathe easier knowing your comfort is restored for the long haul.

Stay chill, Ohio and Indiana – just pick up that phone and dial (317) 360-0054 to request service today.

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