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Two hands checking an A/C blowing cool air
An air conditioner that does not blow cold air could have any one of a variety of problems. Some of them you can address yourself and some of them may require a professional. Some problems may even necessitate the replacement of the air conditioning unit.

Problems You Can DIY

Programming Errors

The first thing to check is the thermostat. If it’s set to ON instead of AUTO, it will run all the time, whether it needs to cool or not. Much of the time, that air won’t be cold. Try changing the thermostat to AUTO so it will only run when it’s needed and not 24/7. The air should be cold whenever it runs.

Man changing dirty air filter

Dirty Filter

The air filter on your air conditioner should be checked at least once every month. If it’s dirty, it will need to be changed. A dirty air filter can restrict the AC’s airflow, preventing cool air from blowing. If you haven’t checked on your air filter in a while, it may be dirty. Replace it and see if that restores the cool air.

No Filter

Make sure your air conditioner does have a filter. A dirty filter is better than no filter at all. The filter prevents dirt and dust and other particles from getting into the mechanisms of your air conditioner. If your air filter is dirty and you have no immediate replacement, try cleaning some of the dirt off of the filter in the meantime.

Dirty Outside Unit

If you have central air conditioning, you have a unit that sits outside. If the outside unit gets clogged with dirt or other debris, that can cause problems with your air conditioner. When the outside unit is dirty, it can’t dissipate heat as well, which makes the air conditioner have difficulty cooling your house properly.

Frozen Air Handler

Check to see if the air handler, which sits behind the filter, is frozen. If it is, it can block the air coming into your house from being able to reach the air conditioner’s refrigerant, which is what actually cools the air. Without that, the air would be pushed into the house un-cooled. To defrost the air handler, turn your air conditioner off for twenty-four hours. Check to make sure everything inside is clean before turning it back on.

Blocked Vents

If the vents inside your home are closed or blocked, then the air conditioner may be blowing cold air, but it won’t be able to reach the rest of the house. Check your vents to make sure that they’re fully opened and aren’t blocked by anything.

Problems That Require Professional Help

Bad Compressor

The compressor is the heart of your AC unit. It’s what circulates the refrigerant that cools the air. If it’s broken, then your air conditioner can’t cool the air. A professional can either repair or replace the compressor as needed.

Broken Condenser Fan Motor

If the fan motor on the condenser is broken, then the air conditioner won’t be able to dissipate heat. This will prevent it from properly cooling your house. The fan may need to be repaired or replaced.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant is what cools the air flowing through your air conditioner. Without it, your AC unit can’t cool the air. Refrigerant shouldn’t run out – it recycles through the air conditioning unit but stays there unless there’s a leak.

The symptoms of a refrigerant leak are ice on the AC unit, a hissing or bubbling noise, and an inability to cool on warmer or hot days. If you suspect a leak, turn your air conditioner off. Running it with low or no refrigerant can harm other parts of the unit. Call a professional to look at your unit as soon as possible.

Woman programming thermostat

Broken Thermostat

The thermostat on your air conditioner may be broken. If this is the case, it would send faulty signals to the air conditioning unit, telling it that it’s already colder inside your house than it actually is.

Leaky Ducts

If your ducts leak, the cool air may be leaking out and never making into your house. A professional can find where the leak is and repair it.

Problems That Require a Replacement

Old AC Unit

If your air conditioning unit is too old, it may not be able to properly cool anymore. Air conditioners can last up to 15 years if they’re the right size for your house or room. If yours is nearing that age or is older, then it may need to be replaced.

AC Unit Is Too Small

If your AC unit is sized incorrectly for your home, it won’t be able to cool properly. A unit that is too small won’t have the power to cool your entire room or house. An air conditioner that is too big will also be problematic – it may cool the house or room, but it won’t run properly and will short cycle, which decreases its expected lifespan. Replace your air conditioner with one that is sized properly for the area it’s meant to cool.

How Can I Tell What Is Broken on My AC?

While a professional can diagnose any problems with your air conditioner, there are some things you can look for before calling for one. First go through the steps that you can do at home, including cleaning the unit and replacing any dirty air filters. Look for ice buildup on the unit – that’s indicative of a refrigerant leak. You can also listen for any unusual noises coming from the air conditioner.

How Can I Prevent AC Problems?

Preventing problems with your air conditioner may not always be possible. Technology does eventually wear down and break no matter what it is. However, keeping your AC unit maintained is a good way to prolong its lifespan and minimize damage to it.

What Maintenance Is Required?

Keep your air conditioner clean. Dirt accumulation on either the inside or the outside can clog and damage components and if the filters are dirty, your air conditioner won’t cool properly. Also, check the condenser coils. If they’re dirty, they can freeze. If your outside unit is near trees or bushes, make sure that they’re trimmed so debris won’t fall onto the unit.

How Can I Clean My Air Conditioner?

Before you clean your air conditioner, turn the unit off. Once it’s completely off, clear the unit of any branches or debris that may have fallen on it. Then, you can use a water hose, preferably with a sprayer nozzle, to clean the unit. Clean the unit once or twice a year or as needed.

Is Professional Help Required?

A professional should inspect your air conditioner at least once a year. They can tell you if there are any problems with the unit, make repairs or replace parts as needed.

How Many Degrees Can an Air Conditioner Cool?

Air conditioners are designed to keep your house a maximum of twenty degrees cooler than the temperature outside. If your home is 80 degrees and your air conditioner is functioning properly, that would mean that the outside temperature is 100.

How Can I Keep a Room Cool Without AC?

If your air conditioner is off for maintenance, there are several things you can do to keep cool while you’re waiting for it to be available. Keeping your blinds closed will minimize the heat from the sun that can come into the house. Blackout curtains are the best at keeping out heat and sunlight. Using fans will create a nice breeze inside, especially if you set the ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise. During the night, it may be cool enough to open the windows and let in cool air.