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AC Taking Too Long To Cool The House? Try These Simple Fixes

by April Carlson

If your air conditioning system takes too long to reach the temperature set on your thermostat and cool down your house, you may wonder if it's broken or needs servicing. Although there could be something seriously wrong with your AC, there may actually not be. Sometimes, cooling systems function poorly because of simple things, such as a dirty air filter and clogged drainage system. You may need to clean the condenser coil in the outside unit. Before you call a professional, try the simple AC fixes first.

Flush Out the Drainage Line

When you change or replace the air filter in your indoor unit to improve the operations of your cooling system, it's a good idea that you flush out the drainage line as well. The drainage line empties water from the condensate pan located just below the evaporator, or cooling, coil. Sometimes, algae and mold form inside the line and clog it up, which generally causes water to backflow into the pan. If the pan fills up with too much water, the excess liquid inside the evaporator coil has nowhere to go and eventually freezes on the surfaces of the part. A frozen evaporator coil can't cool down your house.

To keep the problems above from affecting your cooling system, purchase a 32-ounce bottle of white distilled vinegar to kill the mold and algae growing inside the drainage line. Also, obtain a small funnel, a large empty bucket and several cleaning rags.

Now, follow these steps:

  1. Cut power to your cooling system at the thermostat or circuit breaker. 
  2. Use a screwdriver to uncover the evaporator coil and condensate pan.
  3. Pull out the condensate pan and empty its contents into the bucket. Use a rag to wipe out the pan, then set both items aside.
  4. Remove the cap from over the tall extension pipe located in the center of the drainage line, the insert the end of the funnel inside it.
  5. Pour the entire bottle of vinegar down the pipe's opening. Wait at least 15-20 minutes for the vinegar's acids to break through the clog. The wait time varies for this step, so use your best judgment.
  6. Pour 4 to 5 cups of hot water down the opening to help flush out the gunk.
  7. Place the cap and condensate pan, then cover the evaporator coil. 

After you complete the steps above, you're ready to wash down the condenser coil outside the home.

Wash Down the Condenser Coil

The condenser coil is located on the outside of the outdoor unit. It features tiny parts that resemble fish scales or fins. The parts can build up with dirt and prevent the coil from ejecting heat out of the system. If heat backs up inside the AC's system, it can perform poorly. 

You can solve this issue with the tips below:

  1. Pull out the power supply fuses from the box located on the side of the house and near the outdoor unit. The lid on the box should lift up to allow you access.
  2. Use your screwdriver to remove the cage that covers the coil. Set the cage aside to avoid damaging it. 
  3. Turn a water hose on medium, then gently wash down the fins. You may want to start at the very top of the coil and work your way down to the bottom. It helps keep muddy water from sticking to the surface of the coil.
  4. Use a cleaning rag to wipe away any dirt that covers the top of the unit. The dirt may turn to mud and run into the fins when it rains.

If you have a fin brush or comb on hand, use it to straighten out the fins. Otherwise, replace the cage and allow the condenser coil to dry. Return power to the cooling system and wait until it reaches the temperature set on your thermostat. If the cooling system reaches the right temperature, you have successfully solved the issue. 

If the system still doesn't cool the home or reach the right thermostat temperature, contact an air conditioning contractor from a company like Metro Air for services.