AC Stopped Cooling This Summer? Try These 2 Tips

When your air conditioning system stops cooling, it can make your house feel unbearably hot. You might wonder if your AC is broken and needs repairs. Although indoor and outdoor air conditioning units can break down from wear and tear, the real problem could actually be as simple as dirty air ducts and vents or a clogged condensate line. Before you panic, try the two tips below.

Unclog Your Air Ducts 

Air ducts can clog up with dirt, hair, pet dander, and many other contaminants throughout the year. These items block the flow of air entering and leaving your indoor unit. Although you can't access the air ducts directly, you can remove some of the blockages by vacuuming out the air vents connected to your air ducts.

Before you begin the cleaning, turn off your cooling system at the thermostat or circuit breaker. Also, if you can't reach the vents easily, use a wide-based ladder. Be sure to have someone steady the ladder for safety.

Here's what you do:

  1. Remove each cover from the vents with a hex wrench or another suitable tool.
  2. Place the vent covers aside, then examine the insides of the vents. If the vents appear dirty and blocked, go ahead and clean them one at a time.
  3. Insert the end of your vacuum into a vent, then work the nozzle back and forth. The vacuum's suctioning power should remove most of the debris.
  4. Wipe down each vent cover with a wet cloth until its clear of dust, then reattach it to the vent's opening.

After you clean every vent, return power to your cooling system, lower your thermostat several degrees or so, and wait for your home to cool down. If your house feels cool and comfortable, you can rest easy. But if your home still feels hot, move to the next step below.

Unclog the Indoor Unit's Drainage Line

A cooling system relies on a properly functioning drainage system to release water during operation. The system uses a single drainage line (condensate line) that empties outside the house or inside a basin found below the flooring. If the condensate line clogs up with algae and mold, moisture can remain inside the evaporator coil. The evaporator coil can't absorb warm air or transport cool air back into the house. 

To check to see if the line needs to be cleaned, do these things:

  1. Turn off the cooling system, then place a thick sheet or plastic tarp beneath the air handler.
  2. Locate the condensate line, which should be a PVC pipe that extends from the bottom of the air handler.
  3. Remove the line from the air handler, then examine it. If the line appears clogged with gunk, you can move to step four. If the line appears clear, stop and contact a heating and cooling specialist. There may be other issues with your cooling system.
  4. Flush out the line with about 1 or 2 cups of plain white vinegar. Some people use bleach to flush out condensate lines. If you use bleach, place a fan nearby to keep the scent down.
  5. Wait 10-15 minutes for the solution to break down the gunk. The time may vary, so keep watch over your condensate line.
  6. Repeat step 4 with fresh water, then insert the line back into the air handler.

Return power to your air conditioning system. Set the thermostat to a temperature you desire, then wait for the house to cool down. If the house feels good, you solved the issue at hand.

If your home continues to feel unbearable, contact an HVAC contractor and request services. Your cooling system may need a thorough inspection and possible cleaning. To learn more, check out websites like

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