What Should You Do If Your AC Can’t Keep Up During A Heat Wave?

Historic heat waves are seemingly becoming more common in many areas of the country, and that means going without air conditioning has the potential to become incredibly dangerous. While there's never a good time for an air conditioning repair, a failure during a major heat wave is arguably among the worst.

Unfortunately, you cannot do much to time these failures, and even a well-maintained system may occasionally stop working. If your system suddenly stops cooling your home as the outside temperature soars, don't panic. Instead, follow these three tips to resolve the problem quickly and safely.

1. Check for DIY Solutions

Modern HVAC equipment is complex and often expensive, so it's rarely a good idea to attempt a repair without professional help. However, there are a few things that can go wrong with your system that are well within the means of an average homeowner. Start with the basics and check for a clogged filter since restricted airflow can overwork your system and cause it to shut down.

If that fails, confirm that your AC still has power by checking your breaker or fuse box. If it's especially hot outside, your AC may run for longer, which can cause the compressor to trip its breaker. You may not notice since your AC is on a dedicated circuit and won't affect electricity elsewhere in your home. However, you should call a professional if your system continues to trip its breaker.

2. Increase Your Thermostat

Your AC should be capable of keeping your home cool under normal conditions, but extreme weather can potentially stress the system. Your original installer likely designed your air conditioner for typical temperatures in your area, so a heat wave substantially hotter than normal may reduce your system's efficiency.

If your system is working but seems to be struggling, consider raising your thermostat by a few degrees. Your AC will cycle less often, helping to protect the compressor and prevent excessive wear. You should still call a professional since there may be an issue, but raising your thermostat set point by a few degrees will help to keep your system working until help arrives.

3. Make An Emergency Call

It's easy to view air conditioning as a luxury, but excessive hot temperatures can be incredibly dangerous. If an air conditioning failure produces more than moderate discomfort, it's time to make an emergency service call. While you'll most likely need to pay more for immediate help or after-hours service, it's a worthwhile cost to protect yourself from the dangers of excessive heat.

Reach out to an HVAC contractor if you need an air conditioning repair.