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September 7th, 2021

Hey everybody, Cosmo again! Here we are in the dog days of summer, when it’s almost impossible to enjoy day-to-day comfort if you don’t have an AC system you can rely on. One issue you definitely want to avoid is an overheating AC system. If your cooling system is overheating, then before long, you’ll feel like you’re overheating too! 

How Do I Know if My AC Unit is Overheating?

If there’s some issue with your air conditioning system that’s causing it to overheat, you can rely on your senses to tip you off that something is wrong. You might detect an odor from your outdoor AC unit. Or, there might be a noise that sounds like buzzing or humming from the outdoor unit. Most of all, you can rely on your sense of touch and temperature detection. The outdoor unit might be hot to the touch, and even though the cooling system will continue to distribute air through the supply vents before it shuts down entirely, that air won’t be as cold as it should be. All of these things are signs that one or more components within the AC system (fan motors, compressors, capacitors, or some combination of these) are overheating.

When an air conditioning unit begins to overheat, it can continue to operate without achieving the desired cooling effect. As a result, it will run longer and consume more electricity than it’s supposed to. This will continue until the electrical current drawn by the system exceeds the circuit breaker’s amperage rating. When this happens, it can trip the circuit breaker, fail mechanically or electrically, or all three!

What Causes AC Units to Overheat? 

When an AC system is overheating, any one of several system components may be the culprit. Here are some of the most common issues that can lead to an overheating AC system: 

Low Refrigerant Levels

Overheating can arise if the system has run low on refrigerant. Signs that you’re running low on refrigerant include inefficient cooling and ice on the pipes and coil unit. The only way that modern cooling systems can run low on refrigerant is if they have a leak.  If your HVAC technician confirms that there’s a leak, they can recharge the proper amount of refrigerant. We usually install a leak sealant chemical when we recharge a system. If the leak is small, this will often repair the leak. If the leak persists,  a thorough leak investigation and repair should be done. Some leaks are not repairable and may be cause for a component or system replacement.

Dirty Condenser Coil

An AC system’s condenser coil, sometimes called the outdoor coil, is responsible for transferring heat outside during the cooling process. These coils, located in the outdoor unit, contain refrigerant. If the unit is working properly, the inside unit will cool down the indoor air by using refrigerant to absorb the air’s heat. The refrigerant then goes to the outdoor condenser, where it releases the heat to the outside air. If the coils are dirty the heat transfer will be reduced or eliminated. Overheating will occur if the system continues to run, and components can be damaged.

Condenser Fan Motor Malfunctions

Along with the compressor coil and condenser coil, the condenser fan motor keeps the AC unit cool during operation. The motor spins the fan that blows air across the condenser coil; without it, the unit cannot cool itself. There’s more than one way that a condenser fan might run into trouble. Wear and tear, various electrical issues or a faulty capacitor can also interfere with a motor’s operation. 

How to Fix an Overheating AC Unit

Prevention is the best cure. That’s true of a lot of things, and overheating AC units are no exception. Many of the causes behind overheating come from lack of routine maintenance. Since the testing and maintenance requires specialized tools and knowledge, hiring a reputable HVAC contractor can help prevent many of the conditions that can lead to overheating. Sometimes though, systems can fail even when proper prevention measures have been taken. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, the age of the system, and other factors, repair or replacement may be the recommended solution. Either way, SG Heating & Air Conditioning LLC can help!

As a leading HVAC installation contractor in the Mercer County, NJ area, you can rely on us to figure out what the problem is and provide the help you need. To get your home’s cooling system back to its old self again, or to prevent it from overheating in the first place, talk to one of our experts today by calling 609-448-1273 or filling out this contact form!

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