HVAC Troubleshooting for Air Conditioner and Cooling Problems

HVAC Troubleshooting for Air Conditioner and Cooling Problems

HVAC Troubleshooting for Air Conditioner and Cooling Problems

Improve Home Heating and Cooling Efficiency

Energy Saving Tips for Maximizing Home Comfort

One of a homeowner's biggest monthly expenses is the cost of heating and cooling. This is particularly true during the dog days of summer and in the dead cold of winter. Some of the best ways to save energy are through some simple home maintenance steps, and by making sure your heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) systems are operating efficiently. With your own home monitoring equipment, you can potentially save money in a couple of ways:

  • It will improve energy conservation because the system doesn't have to work as hard to heat or cool your home. It is suggested that as much as a 15% or even a 30% increase in cost savings can be achieved through a properly-running system.
  • An efficient system places less stress on components like the heater and air conditioner, in turn reducing repair bills.
  • An efficiently-running air conditioner will more effectively reduce indoor humidity, lowering the possibility of mold damage. Reduction in humidity can also help reduce allergens in the air, and it feels better too!

There are a variety of easy and inexpensive ways to save energy by increasing the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. However, the first step toward maximizing the efficiency of your home climate control is with simple home environment monitors placed strategically throughout your home.

AcuRite Multi-sensor display

Helpful Energy Saving Tips: Home Cooling

  • While it may seem logical, many experts say that closing off rooms and vents actually makes your home's forced-air cooling system less efficient. Instead, keep vents and doors open. This will better enable your air conditioner to evenly distribute cooled air throughout your home.
  • Routinely replace or clean air filters, since dirty filters will make your system work harder.
  • Make sure your system is professionally installed. Even a modern, high-efficiency home cooling system can be rendered inefficient by poorly-installed and/or improperly-sized duct work, or air conditioning units.
  • Have your system routinely inspected by a professional. Leaks and blocks in the ducts can cause uneven airflow and greatly reduce efficiency.
  • Ceiling fans, believe it or not, are great when used with air conditioning. Ceiling fans don't actually change the temperature, but if you run them counter-clockwise (celling fans can run in two directions), they create a breeze that has a cooling effect on your skin.
  • If you live in a more moderate climate, you can leave the air conditioner off for much of the summer. Opening windows can enable "cross ventilation" of outdoor air circulating through and cooling your home.
  • If your home has multiple floors, opening windows both upstairs and downstairs can create a "chimney effect" or "stack effect" which helps fresh air move through the home. When combined with strategically-placed fans, this can potentially provide the cooling effect you prefer while saving on utility bills. As an added benefit, the constant flow of fresh air will keep your house smelling fresh.
  • Speak to a professional about attic ventilation options, or even a powered attic fan. In addition to pushing out hot air and making it easier for your air conditioner to cool your house, some suggest an attic fan can help mitigate moisture and mold in your attic, and in turn help extend the life of your roof.
  • Monitor temperature and humidity in a variety of areas throughout your home. Whether you have central air, a ductless system, window units, or even fans, this can help you identify uneven distribution of cooled air, pinpoint drafts, or recognize an area needing extra insulation. Once you identify problems, you can take some of the corrective actions above, or call in a professional to make necessary fixes and adjustments.

Common Household Cooling Problems

Uneven Cooling: There are sizable swings in temperature from room to room in your home. Even though you are running the air conditioner system hard, some rooms won't cool down as desired.

Inefficient Cooling: Your system is working hard, and you're racking up energy bills, but your house as a whole never seems to be as cool as you'd like.

Household Cooling Solutions

Test for Even Distribution of Treated Air: Check the air coming out of each vent in the home. If some vents are putting out lots of cold air while others are not, it could indicate a leak or clog in the system or an imbalance requiring professional attention.

Test for Inadequate Insulation of Ducts and Leaks in the Ductwork: Since ducts may pass through uncooled areas like crawl spaces and attics, there is potential for loss of cooled air before it reaches the vent. In addition, a leak in the ductwork can allow treated air to escape. A comparison of air coming out at the vent to the air near the air conditioner can indicate these types of problems.

Test for Drafts, Cracks, and Air Leaks: If the vents seem to be distributing treated air evenly and efficiently, it could indicate a draft, leak, or inadequate insulation in a part of your home. Problem areas could include doors and windows.

Test for Poor Overall Efficiency: If you are unable to identify uneven distribution and/or specific points of leaks and drafts, the home itself could be inadequately insulated. Problem areas could include the attic and walls. If your system is running full blast, yet temperatures aren't much different than outside, it may be time to hire a professional to conduct a home energy audit.

AcuRite Energy Conservation Solutions

  • Monitor Temperature Conditions Around the Home: Place AcuRite Room Monitors away from sources of treated air (ex. vents) to measure ambient room conditions.
  • Position Spot Check Temperature & Humidity Sensor in Strategic Locations: The Spot Check Sensor can serve a wide variety of purposes, depending on your needs. Here are some examples:
    • Check for Uneven Cooling: Position the Spot Check Sensor near or inside different vents around the home. If the vent temperature varies from room to room, it could indicate a problem with system balance and airflow, and needs to be looked at by a professional.
    • Check for Inadequate Duct Insulation and Leaks in the Ductwork: Position the Spot Check Sensor near or inside different vents, particularly vents furthest from the air conditioner. Then use the Spot Check Sensor to measure temperate coming out of the air conditioner (if this is not possible, an alternative may be measuring the temperature at vents close to the air conditioner). If there is a substantial difference in temperature at the air conditioner and at the vent, it could indicate a lack of insulation around ductwork and/or leaks in the ductwork.
    • Check for Drafts, Cracks, and Air Leaks: Position the Spot Check Sensor near windows, doors, in attics or crawl spaces, and other suspected sources of air loss. If the Spot Check Sensor temperature is reading warmer than the Room Monitor, it could indicate the presence of a draft or leak. These are spots where weather stripping may need to be replaced, or other maintenance is required.
  • Use a Home Environment Display for convenient viewing of conditions measured by Monitors and Sensors in multiple rooms around the home.
    • Set Alarms: The alarm function on the Home Environment Display can alert you of undesirable conditions. Home humidity monitoring and home temperature monitoring can help you identify problem areas such as:
      • Undesirably low or high temperatures
      • Undesirably high or low humidity
    • Monitor Daily High and Low Records: Daily records can help gauge conditions when you’re at work, asleep, etc. Use this information to adjust your thermostat for maximum energy savings.

Further Reading

There are lots of great resources out there to help you gain information on heating and cooling efficiency. Here are a few helpful articles to get you started in the world of home environment monitoring:

AcuRite HD display on a table
Home Heating
July 18, 2018
Franklin Dwight
May 9, 2023
HVAC troubleshooting can be dangerous, so it's important to take proper safety precautions and to call a professional HVAC technician if you're unsure about how to diagnose or fix an issue with your air conditioner or cooling system. See thew best
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