A common issue with central air conditioners occurs when they are working too long and hard, and as a result, overheat. Eventually, overheating of an A/C either will cause an internal breakdown or will trip the circuit breaker. That’s why it’s important to understand why a central A/C will become overworked and overheated. There are three main reasons.

What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Overheats

HVAC technician working on a mini-split condensing unit
Source: istockphoto

Why Is Your A/C Overheating

1) A clogged air filter. When air is circulating in a forced-air cooling or heating system, an essential stage in the process is filtration. The air filter, usually located where the ductwork connects with the furnace or A/C air handler, removes particulates from the air, allowing for more efficient operation. When the filter is clogged with dust and debris, your A/C components have to work harder to push air across the evaporator coil, through your home’s ductwork and registers. Eventually, this will cause the system to overheat and break down. Inspect the air filter monthly and change it when it appears dirty.

2) Dirty coils. Refrigerant-filled coils are key components in the cooling process. The inside (evaporator) coil absorbs heat energy from the air, creating interior cooling, while the outside (condenser) coil releases that heat energy into the outside air. If either coil is coated in grime, the vital heat-exchange process will be restricted. As with a dirty air filter, this will force your A/C components, including the air handler motor and compressor, to work harder and longer. Eventually, it will break down or trip the circuit breaker.

3) Low refrigerant. As with the other two issues, a low refrigerant charge can force the A/C to work harder than it’s designed to operate, once again resulting in overheating and a possible breakdown.

While you can change a dirty air filter, with dirty coils and low refrigerant your best bet is calling a professional HVAC technician to address these issues. Cleaning the coils and checking and charging the refrigerant are both components of a standard A/C maintenance visit.

To schedule HVAC service or maintenance in your The Woodlands area home, please contact us today at Bradbury Brothers Heating & Air Conditioning.