If your AC unit isn't correctly sized to meet the needs of your home, it will struggle. A too-large unit will short cycle, wasting energy and wearing itself out faster than it would by running full cycles. A too-small unit, on the other hand, will simply keep running without enough breaks, which could wear it out even faster.
Your AC unit may be too small because your home has had a recent addition without a corresponding HVAC upgrade, or perhaps the previous owner of your house installed the wrong size due to faulty calculations. Here are some alternatives to look into when you notice that your AC unit is too small.
1. Use Supplemental Cooling Tactics
Passive cooling techniques are often touted as great for the environment because they reduce the need to use energy for cooling. This same characteristic means that passive cooling can allow you to boost your AC unit's ability to control the temperature.
The more you can keep your home cool with passive strategies, the easier it will be for even an underpowered unit to keep the space livable. Some easy passive techniques to look into include window and roof improvements.
Window improvements include shading your windows with an awning or exterior blinds, solar screens, and window tints, or a combination of all three. For the roof, you can beef up insulation and consider adding a cool roof coating or improving the roof's ventilation. A thermal reflective barrier will help you to reject some of the heat your roof absorbs as well.
In addition to passive cooling, you may be able to use alternate strategies such as turning on ceiling fans (or substituting a freestanding fan in each room if you don't have ceiling fans). Keeping the air moving helps your body to stay comfortable even at temperatures that would otherwise be slightly too warm.
2. Replace the Unit with an Upgrade
If adding fans and awnings sounds like too much hassle, you can always simply upgrade your system by adding a newer, more powerful, and larger AC unit. A new unit may also be necessary if the cooling deficit is extreme. In this case, adding some shade to your windows may not be able to help enough.
There are pros and cons to upgrading, but it's especially worthwhile if your current unit is fairly old. Not only do older units run less efficiently than they used to, but they're also more prone to breakdowns. And the modern innovations that a newer unit can provide are another incentive. Smart thermostat readiness, variable speed systems, and very high efficiency are just a few.
3. Get Maintenance and Repairs
Many AC units across America aren't working at their fullest potential because they're not maintained as well as they should be. Even something simple and seemingly minor like delaying AC filter replacement can decrease your unit's efficiency. Efficiency doesn't just save money; it also allows your unit to cool faster with less work, meaning it improves the unit's capacity.
Significant decreases in efficiency can occur when the unit isn't serviced on a regular basis. For example, your yearly checkup will include checking coolant levels. If the coolant is running low, your technician can top it off. But if you skip your annual servicing, you may be depriving your unit of what it needs to cool at the top of its game.
If you've noticed that your AC unit has decreased in efficacy and efficiency over recent months without an obvious reason, maintenance problems may be an issue. Or, even if you have had the unit maintained, it may need repairs. Investing in maintenance and repairs may be all that's needed to bring your system back up to speed.
These three options can help you get over an unpleasantly warm situation when your AC unit can't keep up with your cooling needs. Anytime you need help with AC repairs, maintenance, or diagnosing, be sure to call B & K Services for all your HVAC services night or day.