Help – My Air Conditioner Can’t Keep Up!

When the temperatures are in the high 90s and 100s in the Houston area, we naturally migrate indoors to get out of the heat and cool off. Sometimes, though, your air conditioner just cannot keep up with the heat and it is just not cool enough indoors. This is a common complaint we hear when the heat is on. Here’s what we hear most often:

  • My air conditioner isn’t cooling well enough.
  • My air conditioner can’t keep up.
  • My air conditioner needs a shot of refrigerant like Freon.
  • I’m having to wait too long for it to get cool in my home.
  • My air conditioner has been going non-stop and won’t shut-off.

Here’s what you need to know because you may NOT actually need a repair.

Give your air conditioner a head start

Don’t turn up the thermostat so much when you leave, such as over 80 degrees, that when you get back it can’t keep up. This will cause your air conditioner to run very hot and for a long time to catch up. You’ll spend less energy and be cooler if you turn up the thermostat just a few degrees warmer when you leave or if you just leave it where it is on the hottest days. Otherwise, it may take much longer than you expect to get cool during the hottest part of the day when you return. You definitely won’t save energy or money by setting the thermostat warmer for a short time. What will happen is that your air conditioner will have to work double time to catch up (if it can) during the hottest time of the day. This is why it won’t save you the money you expect.

Your air conditioner might be at capacity

If it is 102 outside during the day and your air conditioner can only get the temperature down to 78 or 80, it may not be broken. Instead, your air conditioner might just be telling you that it is working it’s little heart out and can do no more. This means it cannot work harder, no matter how low you’ve pushed the thermostat. If your air conditioner is able to catch up and cool your home right down in the evening, this can be an indicator that your air conditioner is working at its limit on extremely hot days. Did you know that air conditioning equipment is customized based on historical climate data? This means residential air conditioners in the Houston area are set to cool based on the outdoor design temperature, the temperature exceeded only 1% of the total hours in a typical year. For Harris County, that temperature is 95 degrees.

Quick solutions to help if it’s hot

  • Clean your condenser. Consider spraying your outdoor condenser with a water hose (not a power washer) to give it as much cooling capacity as possible. Especially if there is a lot of construction like there is going on in Katy, the surrounding dust can clog up outdoor coils and diminish the overall cooling capacity. That small problem becomes very apparent when the temperature is extremely hot. We regularly clean condensers during regular maintenance calls in the spring for that very reason.
  • Turn on your fan. Turning on a portable or ceiling fan can help you feel a few degrees cooler. Bear in mind to turn that fan off, if you are not using it. Air blown on your skin makes you feel a little cooler, so it doesn’t help if you’re not in the room.
  • Close the curtains and blinds. Keep the blinds, shades or curtains closed on very hot days, especially for south- and west-facing windows. This reduces the amount of radiant heat from the sun coming into your home and reduces the amount of heat your air conditioner will need to remove from the home.

We Can Help

Contact Rob and Kenny at Terry’s A/C and Heating at 281-495-7830 if you have questions about your air conditioner or you need service or maintenance. We can ask you a series of questions and save you a service call in some cases. You may find this problem happening just a few days a year. If it becomes pervasive and disruptive, we can help you find a cost-effective solution. Find out what our customers have to say about us and what makes our family-owned business different from others in Southwest Houston area. We serve Southwest and West Houston, Memorial, Fulshear, Rosenberg, Katy, Sugar Land, Richmond, Missouri City, Stafford and the surrounding area. We’d love to be your indoor comfort concierge.