When Even the AC Is Too Hot: Why an Air Conditioner Overheats
With the weather so hot at summer’s end, everything is in danger of possibly overheating—including your air conditioner. Air conditioning systems are designed to operate in hot weather. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be much use to anyone. But the extra load of work, combined with all the strain and wear the AC has accumulated already during May, June, and July, can cause the motors or other components to overheat.
If your air conditioner stops cooling or its fan breaks, call for a Cary, NC, HVAC contractor to get the issue fixed. Any air conditioning technician worth calling knows all the different reasons why a cooling system might fail toward the end of the summer. Below we’ve listed a few of the most common ones that we see when we’re helping rescue ACs in August and September:
- Clogged filter: You may understand that a clogged air filter in an HVAC system will cut down on airflow, but why would it cause an AC to overheat? The reason is the restriction on airflow into the blower places heavy strain on the motor powering the blower. The draw on electricity may cause an overload that trips a circuit breaker, and it may even let the motor overheat.
- Dirty outdoor coils: The coils located in the outdoor cabinet of the AC (the condenser coils) must be clean to allow heat to escape from them to the outside. A layer of grime across the coils creates an insulating effect that slows down the release of heat. This traps too much heat inside the AC and may lead to overheating. Leave cleaning the coils to professionals who can do the job without causing damage to the coil.
- Failed capacitors: Capacitors send voltage to the motors to start them running and keep them running. These components are susceptible to extreme heat more than any other part of an AC, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures may cause them to lose their ability to hold a charge. When capacitors fail, important motors in the air conditioner will not be able to turn on.
- Short cycling: When the compressor in an AC turns on and off rapidly over a short period, the system is short-cycling. There are different reasons for this to happen: the air conditioner may be too large for the space, it has a clogged filter, refrigerant levels have dropped from leaks, the coils are iced over, the thermostat is misreading the temperatures, etc. Whatever the cause, it needs to be corrected before the short-cycling causes the AC to overheat and the compressor burns out.
- You’ve run the AC too much: There’s such a thing as too much cooling—and pushing the thermostat down as low as possible is a one way to get too much cooling. The lower the thermostat, the longer the compressor runs, and this can lead to an AC overheating and leaving a house with no cooling at all.