Common AC Questions: My AC is Running But Not Cooling?

close up of hvac fan

While an air conditioner is nice to have almost any time of year in Oklahoma–thanks to warm springs and falls and mild winters–it’s absolutely essential during the dog days of summer. Humidity and wind can make the triple-digit temperatures brutal at best and deadly dangerous at worst. 

However, an AC isn’t any good if it isn’t actually cooling your home. It can be baffling–and maddening–to hear your AC running but feel no relief from the heat. So what’s going on?

The Most Asked Air Conditioning Questions

Q: Why is my air conditioner blowing warm air?

A: If your air conditioner is running but the air is warmer than the ambient temperature, there could be a few things happening, because warm air indicates that your AC is working harder than it’s meant to. The most common problem is a dirty air filter,  which reduces air flow throughout the indoor system and will cause your system to freeze up. Low refrigerant levels, a malfunctioning thermostat, or a blocked condenser unit could also be the culprit and require more in-depth work. You can clean or replace the filters on your own, but you’ll need a professional for refrigerant or electrical issues.

Q: What if the AC is running, but not cooling enough?

A: If your AC isn’t blowing cool air, but it isn’t blowing enough cool air to actually reduce the temperature in a room, this means that something about either the volume or temperature of the air being produced is the issue. A dirty or blocked condenser coil is one possible cause. A condenser coil takes the heat from the air and moves it outside, resulting in cool air being blown around. If it’s blocked or covered in dirt, it can’t perform this job as well anymore, which may cause your air to be a little cool, but not as much as it should. To resolve this, try cleaning the condenser coil. If this doesn’t help, you may need professional assistance to check for other issues.

Q: Can a thermostat issue cause the AC not to cool?

A: Yes, it can. The thermostat reads the temperature in a room and communicates this information to the AC unit, which then turns on or off based on the reading. If the thermostat is improperly calibrated, it might not signal the AC to cool. Check if the thermostat is set to cool mode (many devices have a separate fan mode, which turns the blower on but does not produce hot or cold air, which can be part of the confusion), and set the desired temperature. 

If the AC still doesn’t work properly, check whether there is something in the vicinity impacting the thermostat. For instance, a thermostat that is in direct sunlight might interpret the room to be hotter than it is. 

If none of these resolve the problem, the thermostat might need replacement.

Q: How can I tell if my AC has a refrigerant leak?

A: The refrigerant in an air conditioning system travels through the copper coils inside it, absorbing heat and then releasing it to keep things cool. When this substance begins to leak, your AC might not cool, even if it’s running. If you have a refrigerant leak, you might hear a hissing sound coming from the AC, your energy bills could be higher than you expect, and you might even see ice on the refrigerant line. You will need a professional to properly repair a refrigerant leak.

Q: What can I do if my air filters are dirty?

A: Cleaning or replacing air filters is one of the simplest things you can do to improve the output of your AC. It’s recommended to replace your air filters every 1-3 months for optimum performance. Pay attention to any directional arrows on the filters as you replace them, because they indicate which direction a certain side should be facing for correct airflow.

Q: Can a circuit breaker issue cause the AC not to cool?

A: Yes. If the breaker has tripped, the AC may still run, but it might not cool. The reason for this is because the unit inside your house, which circulates the air, has been turned back on when the breaker is reset. However, the outside components, which are responsible for cooling, do not turn back on automatically after tripping. Reset the circuit breaker by flipping it off and then on. If it keeps tripping, it’s safer to call an electrician.

Q: What should I do if my condenser coils are dirty?

A: Clean condenser coils can save you big money when energy bills are the highest, but in Oklahoma’s dry, windy conditions, it doesn’t take long for them to get dirty. You can clean the condenser coils with a garden hose (after turning off power to the unit), but if they are extremely dirty, consider hiring a professional to clean them. 

Q: Could a malfunctioning fan be the reason my AC isn’t cooling?

A: Yes—the fan is the powerhouse behind your AC’s blower, and cold air won’t circulate if the fan isn’t working to blow it. Listen for unusual noises (such as grinding or clicking) or look for ice on the coils. You might need to replace the fan motor if it’s not working, which requires a professional.  Your heat and air system is based on proper airflow.

Q: What if my air ducts are leaking?

A: If your AC is running but not cooling, the air conditioning system itself may not be the problem. Leaky air ducts can cause cool air to escape before it reaches its destination, leading to poor cooling or can infiltrate your system from the return side, causing your system to work harder than it should.  Check visible ducts for holes and loose connections. For a more thorough check or for repairs, call a professional. 

Q: Why does my AC keep cycling on and off?

A: If your AC is not cooling your home, listen carefully to its operation. Is it turning on, blowing, and then turning off shortly after, only to repeat this cycle? This is often due to a dirty or blocked condenser unit, a dirty air filter, or low refrigerant. Try cleaning the condenser and replacing the air filter. If the problem persists, it could be a refrigerant issue, which will require professional service.

Preventing the Most Common AC Problems

The bulk of AC problems can be avoided with a little preventative maintenance, reducing the chances you’ll find yourself in the middle of a heatwave without cool air.

Some actions you can take as a homeowner include:

  • Cleaning or changing your air filters
  • Checking and testing the thermostat
  • Turning on fans to circulate air and put less stress on the AC unit
  • Avoid opening and closing doors too frequently to keep the indoor air consistent

However, air conditioning systems are complex. For many issues, especially those related to refrigerant, electrical components, or internal parts, it’s safer and more effective to hire a professional. An AC tune-up from Suntech Heat and Air can help make sure all of the components of your unit are working properly and efficiency, including:

  • Drains. When an AC unit runs, it creates moisture and condensation, which is funneled away from the system using a drain line. However, if the drain line becomes clogged (with anything from pollen to attic insulation, depending on the location of your unit), this water has nowhere to go except back the way it came. This means your unit could cause water damage to your home and ultimately fail to function properly.
  • Filters and coils. Over time, even the most sheltered units will eventually need some cleanup. Keeping the filters and coils free from buildup ensures that they work at peak performance, which keeps your system running in good condition for as long as possible and lowers your energy bills.
  • Air flow. Air conditioning units can transport a lot of air—in fact, the average AC unit will move more than a thousand cubic feet of air per minute. The suction required to bring in this air means that the area around the unit itself should be free from debris, such as weeds and shrubs or tall grass.

Keep Your AC Cool and Functioning with Services from Suntech Heat and Air

For more than 30 years, Suntech Heat and Air has been keeping Oklahomans cool with professional, reliable, and trusted AC services. Our team of experienced, licensed technicians is trained to service all makes and models of HVAC units–traditional and geothermal–and our comprehensive 15-point inspection checklist ensures we don’t miss a thing. 

Whether you’re preparing for the summer heat ahead or find yourself in the middle of an AC meltdown, Suntech Heat and Air can help with emergency service and affordable prevention tune-ups that keep you cool all year round. For even more peace of mind, join the Suntech Heat and Air Club, our annual maintenance and service agreement that gives you price protection, extra value and discounts, automatic tune-up scheduling, and preferred scheduling for unexpected repairs.

Don’t trust your family’s comfort to just anyone; trust the experts at Suntech Heat and Air and call today!


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Suntech Heat and Air
3724 East Second Street, Suite D
Edmond, OK 73034

Phone: (405) 348-9743