When you live in Lufkin, Texas, your home needs to be cool for considerably more of the year than it would in most other states. That's why you notice fast if it seems like your AC isn't working well anymore. You can turn off your oven, get blackout curtains, and turn the thermostat down, but sometimes your home just isn't cool enough for comfort.
If you're feeling hot or sticky indoors, don't keep cranking up the AC and wasting more energy. Discover the reason your home is too hot by considering your HVAC system and your home's insulation. Keep reading to discover eight common problems that cause your home to be uncomfortably warm.
The AC Needs Maintenance
When professionals check your HVAC system, they look at all sorts of common issues these systems can develop over time. Preventative maintenance is one of the best ways to keep your HVAC equipment running at optimum capacity. You might be low on refrigerant or have a worn out motor or a dirty evaporator coil. Not all AC problems demonstrate themselves with loud sounds or funny odors coming from your system. Some of them simply reduce the AC's ability to run, and all you notice is less cool air in the house.
Professionals not only repair existing problems with your HVAC system, but they also identify areas that have the potential to develop into problems, and they replace components before they wear out completely. A certified HVAC technician will also let you know if you need to keep an eye on anything, what to watch and listen for, and when to call them back if anything changes or gets worse.
Humidity Is Too High
Not only is high indoor humidity uncomfortable, but it's also bad for your indoor air quality, as it creates a hospitable environment for mold and fungal growth. Your AC dehumidifies as it cools, but a number of reasons exist why it may not be dehumidifying enough. A badly ventilated house, high seasonal humidity, and clogged air filters are just a few reasons your AC may not be enough to fully dehumidify your home.
You may notice that your AC runs all day and that you only feel cool standing right next to the vents while the rest of the house remains warm. When you feel sticky or clammy, those are good signs that you need to add extra dehumidification measures. Purchasing a dehumidifier or investing in a new HVAC system with better dehumidifying capabilities are two options you may want to look into.
Ducts Are Leaking
If you have air leaks in your ducts, you can lose almost a third of your HVAC system's efficiency. On top of that, you're losing a lot of the air your HVAC system is cooling. The HVAC system has to work harder to cool down the house, and you're getting less cold air through your vents than you would be with sealed ducts.
If you've got leaks in your ducts, they may also be a little grimy on the inside. Debris in the ducts impedes air flow and causes the HVAC system to blow dust and other debris into your home. This may not affect how cool you feel as much as it lowers your IAQ, but you'll notice if your allergies suddenly get worse.
Your AC Is the Wrong Size
It makes sense that if your air conditioner's cooling capacity isn't enough for the space it needs to cool, you'd experience discomfort. So if you're cranking up the AC and still feeling warm and sticky, the AC might be too small to properly cool the size of your home.
However, an AC that's too big will also cause you discomfort. Since a larger AC doesn't have to run for very long to cool a too small space, it shuts off very quickly. That means it can't properly dehumidify the air, and part of feeling cool and comfortable is maintaining a humidity level between 30 and 50 percent. When the AC is too big and shuts off quickly, you'll end up with cold, humid air that feels clammy on your skin. You also may find that the temperature inside your house is inconsistent. You're too cold right after the AC runs, but you get warmer before it kicks on again.
Debris Is Clogging the Outdoor Unit
When your home feels too hot inside, the problem may originate outdoors. The outdoor component of your air conditioner might be covered in dirt or debris. Leaves and other detritus can get inside the unit and cause the fan to work harder. Your landscaping may also be obscuring the outdoor unit.
You can pull the fan up and clean out the inside of the outdoor unit, but if you notice it's covered in debris, you should schedule a professional cleaning. Make sure you leave two feet clear of any bushes or branches around the outdoor unit to ensure it has enough air space to work properly.
You Need Attic Ventilation
No matter how well insulated your attic is, if it's collecting a lot of hot air and not expelling it, that hot air has the potential to get into the rest of your house. Attic ventilation will keep the attic from becoming a stuffy sauna in summer, which means you won't have to worry about hot air escaping the attic and moving around the rest of the house.
Plus, if you have air ducts that go through any part of the attic, they're getting hot along with the attic. That means the HVAC system has to work harder to keep the air moving through the ducts cool. You don't have to cool the attic along with the rest of your house; you just have to ensure it's ventilated, and the temperature up there won't get too miserable.
You Need Better Home Insulation
It doesn't matter how amazing your AC is at keeping the house cool or dehumidifying it, if your home's building envelope has a lot of leaks in it. A properly sized AC with perfect ductwork and optimum thermostat settings will still fail to keep your home cool if all that air is escaping under the cracks of doors and through cracks around your windows.
Some home insulation problems you can detect for yourself. Air leaks around doors and windows are relatively easy to find on your own. You also might have leaks around your plumbing and even near your electrical outlets. It could be more complicated still: the insulation in the walls of your attic, your basement, or your crawl space may be inadequate. Start by fixing obvious envelope problems yourself with some caulk and patience, but if you don't feel any improvement in your AC's ability, you probably need a professional's expertise to find and fix the problem areas.
An Old System Needs to be Replaced
When nothing seems to help cool down your living space, it might be time for a new HVAC system. Whether you're struggling with ductwork you inherited when you bought the house or suffering through a hot summer with a window AC, systems available today are far more energy-efficient than they used to be. Even a well-maintained old system will stop working properly eventually, and if it hasn't been maintained well, then you're probably wasting a lot of energy running an AC that isn't doing much to cool down your house.
Look for the EnergyStar label, and be sure to have a professional size and install the new system. Correct sizing and installation are key components in keeping your indoors as cool as you please.
You need the house to be cool for three of Texas's four seasons, and when it's sweltering outside, you want your home to be an oasis of cool, dry air. If you notice problems with your HVAC system, think you need new equipment, or simply feel like your thermostat isn't doing its job to maintain your favorite indoor temperature, it's time to get an HVAC contractor to take a look. Call McWilliams and Son Heating and Air Conditioning at (888) 905-7655today.
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