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If Your AC Can’t Keep Up, Don’t Turn the Thermostat Down

adjusting-thermostat-to-66-degreesIn our previous post, we looked at a common issue that an air conditioner can run into at the end of the summer: having trouble keeping up with the heat. We listed some of the signs you can look for that will inform you that it’s time to contact our specialists in air conditioning in Staten Island, NY. You want your air conditioner repaired, even at the end of the warm season: it’s always wise to fix anything before it has a chance to create more damage and raise expenses.

However, when homes start to grow hotter than normal while the air conditioning system is running, people often resort to a simple “solution”: they turn down the thermostat further. The recommended temperature setting during the summer is 78°F (this comes from the Department of Energy). If you’re used to having the thermostat at this temperature, but your house begins to feel hotter, you’ll feel the temptation to lower the thermostat setting to make up for it.

This is a mistake! There’s something wrong with the HVAC system somewhere, and lowering the thermostat will not solve the problem. It will probably make it worse!

A note on thermostat operation

First, we want to clarify how a thermostat works to show that lowering it isn’t a way to get more cooling. The thermostat doesn’t operate like the throttle in a car. You aren’t pushing down a pedal that makes the air conditioner “ramp up” and produce greater levels of cooling. A thermostat is actually a switch; a switch often connected to complex computer controls, but still a switch that’s “on” or “off.” When the indoor temperature registers as higher than the setting on the thermostat, the thermostat turns on the compressor to start cooling the space. When the space is cooled down to the setting, the thermostat then turns off the compressor.

So when you turn down the thermostat to a low setting, you’re just requesting that the compressor run longer to reach that temperature. It isn’t a way to make the AC work faster at its job or give you better cooling levels.

An AC that can’t keep up needs to be repaired

You can see that even under normal circumstances it’s not a good idea to turn a thermostat down too low: the compressor will run longer without giving you better cooling. Trying to use this to compensate for an air conditioner that can no longer cool down the house the way it should is putting extra strain on a system that’s already malfunctioning. You may end up hastening a complete AC failure. After making checks on the air filter to see that it’s clean and that all the vents are unblocked, call on HVAC professionals to see what’s wrong.

Sometimes the problem is actually in the thermostat. If the temperature sensors are miscalibrated, the thermostat may be shutting the compressor off prematurely—and that means you won’t get the cooling you need. There are many other possibilities, however, including issues with the compressor, the evaporator coil, the blower fan, or even the ductwork. It takes an HVAC expert to complete a proper diagnosis, and we have the right people for the job!

Scaran—Serving Staten Island and Its Neighbors

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