How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Tom Your Own Question

Tom
Tom, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 770
Experience:  16+yrs HVAC/R service. Residential Commerical Industrial
18550064
Type Your HVAC Question Here...
Tom is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My A/C unit is on, but is blowing out warm air.HELP!

Resolved Question:

My A/C unit is on, but is blowing out warm air.HELP!
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  Tom replied 4 years ago.
Chat Conversation Started
Tom :

Hi, sorry you're having trouble....standard furnace-a/c or is this a heat pump/

Tom :

?

Customer :

this is a standard unit----comfortmaker central

Tom :

Is the outdoor unit running? Fan and compressor?

Customer :

yes, both. outside is outputting warm air,no visible leaks.

Tom :

Ok....but air from your vents is warm? Does the airflow from the vents feel weak or normal?

Customer :

I am taking care of an elderly woman and its 100+ degress here

Customer :

warm from vents,normal air flow

Tom :

well I'll do my best to help you...

Tom :

Is the air handler in a basement...garage...attic?"

Tom :

(furnace)

Customer :

in the hall way

Customer :

im thinking the coils froze. we had the unit on for 5 days straight

Tom :

Ok....I need you to check the refrigerant lines connected to the cooling coil....there will be a small copper line and a larger one covered with insulation... push the insulation back a little and see if the line is warm or cold....

Tom :

the unit should be able to do that without freezing...

Tom :

There should be no ice or frost on the line...

Customer :

the small copper line is warm

Tom :

good..

Customer :

the other is cool to the touch

Tom :

good also....ok...try to find the drain line from the cooling coil...should be a plastic pipe perhaps going to a floor drain somewhere...see if there is any water coming out of it..

Customer :

thers a new air filter, and i even changed the fuses as well

Tom :

was the filter dirty?

Customer :

the old one was,but not too bad. i have to change it omnthly, i live in the high desert

Customer :

when i changed to filter yesterday, there was wetness on the filter. not much,but noticable.

Tom :

that's a sign it may have been froze up or...the drain line is not draining properly...

Tom :

do you see where the drain runs to?

Customer :

woul it be on the front of the unit?

Tom :

Front or side...a plastic pipe or hose near the refrigerant lines..

Customer :

ok.its on the front.

Tom :

any water coming out of it?

Customer :

no,dry as a bone

Customer :

youre asking if its leaking right?

Tom :

is it humid where you are?

Tom :

no,,,it should be draining condensation off of the cooling coil...

Tom :

so ...I guess yes?? If there is any humidity in the air...it will condense on the cooling coil and should run out the drain.. unless it's plugged..

Customer :

more than usual over the last week due to change in weather.its usually dry heat here. right now its 55% humidity indoors

Tom :

Just trying to get a picture of what could be going on...

Customer :

the pipe just leads into the wall, so i cannot see if its drainging properly or not

Tom :

Ok...can you see the end of the drain pipe? the reason I ask is that some units go to a little pump with a switch that can shut your a/c off if it (the pump) is not working properly..

Tom :

Also..if the cooling coil is froze up...it won't have any water in it..

Tom :

is it a clear hose or a pipe?

Customer :

let me see if i can find where it drains at...its white,not clear

Tom :

OK...check the air flow again too...see how far away from the vent you can feel air..

Customer :

about 12 inches from the vent

Tom :

ok..that's good...

Tom :

Do you have any kind of thermometer that can read the air temp coming out of the vents? what is the room temperature right now?

Tom :

This is a little hard...sounds like everything is more or less working..

Customer :

the drain line wouldnt be in the attic,would it?

Tom :

not unless the a/c unit was in the attic...it should go down or outside..not up..

Tom :

Maybe I'm a little off track here...

Customer :

the air temp coming out is above 85

Tom :

coming out of the vents???

Tom :

What does the temp on the thermostat say?

Customer :

sorry,the air is average room temp

Customer :

not cool at all

Customer :

luke warm

Tom :

So the room temp is 85?

Customer :

right

Tom :

It really is starting to sound like your unit is low on refrigerant..

Customer :

and its 100 outside

Tom :

lets skip the drain thing for now...

Customer :

ok

Tom :

Is the condensing unit (outdoor unit) easy to get to?

Customer :

can i refill that myself?

Customer :

what does it look like?

Customer :

the unit

Tom :

I doubt it....unless you have gauges and a source for refrigerant..

Customer :

oh yeah, its easy to get to

Customer :

its right outside my back door

Tom :

the unit in front..

Tom :

Ok..2 things...

Customer :

ok

Tom :

See if there is any sweat or 'condensation' on the large refrigerant line at the unit....second...feel the air temp coming off the top from the fan...it should be plenty warm....it's supposed to be removing heat from the house...if it's the same as the outdoor temp..it is likely low on refrigerant..

Customer :

should i turn the ac off?

Tom :

no...

Tom :

running..

Customer :

the air is warm coming out.

Tom :

The air should be 15 - 25 degrees warmer than outdoor temp.

Tom :

but if it's 100 outside....is it noticeably warmer??

Customer :

no condensation. let me check the air temp again...

Tom :

Ok...and make sure the fins are clean on the condenser..

Customer :

the fans?

Customer :

its warmer than outside temp

Tom :

Fins on the condensing unit...

Customer :

what are the fins?

Tom :

you'll see many rows of aluminum fins that the air flows through on the outdoor unit..

Customer :

oh, clean and clear

Tom :

Just need to make sure they are not clogged up with dirt/grass etc..

Customer :

all clear

Tom :

It sounds like you are cooling somewhat....but not efficiently....

Tom :

You've checked everything I've asked...without putting a gauge set on to see exactly what the refrigant level is...there is not much more you can do.

Customer :

its just blowing regular air,no coolness

Tom :

If there is no condensation on the line set at the condensing unit...it is probably low on refrigerant...

Tom :

The line should be quite cold...not just cool..

Tom :

and sweating..

Customer :

none

Tom :

A typical residential a/c holds about 6 - 8 lbs of refrigerant..

Tom :

If you're even a pound low that is very significant as far as the performance...

Customer :

so wgat should i do?

Tom :

How old is your unit?

Customer :

10 years old

Tom :

Unfortunately..you're probably going to have to call someone to check the refrigerant pressures..

Tom :

Has it been cooling ok all summer or not so much?

Customer :

oh, sorry, its the originalunit that came with the house, and the house was built in 1989

Tom :

Ok....good service!

Tom :

But it may have a tiny leak...

Tom :

Over time it's not unusual to lose a little refrigerant...

Customer :

its been ok all summer, until 2 nights ago, it swas cool, then it started blowing warm air.

Tom :

Has it been this hot all summer?

Customer :

yes, from 95-110. I live in the high desert/lancaster,ca area

Customer :

why would i have moisture on my air filter when i changed it?

Tom :

It's possible it froze up on you....but normally you'll see sweat or ice on the line....the only other thing I can suggest is to shut the a/c off....turn the fan to 'on' for a half hr to 45 minutes...

Tom :

That will thaw any ice on the coil....

Customer :

ok,then what?

Tom :

Then turn a/c back on and see if it helps..if not you probably need it charged.

Tom :

As far as the filter being wet..

Tom :

That's sort of where I was going with the drain line thing...

Customer :

it wasnt much,maybe a few drops

Tom :

If the drain is plugged up the drain pan may have overflowed due to the line being blocked..

Tom :

Oh..ok..

Tom :

That does't sound like too much to worry about...

Customer :

so, know what should I do?

Tom :

But I would still find the end of the drain line...especially due to the age of the unit...hard telling ..it could well be clogged or at least draining slowly..

Customer :

the fan is on,ac off

Tom :

Try thawing it for a bit and see if it helps...my gut feeling is it won't..but I would try it before calling a repair person.

Tom :

Check the air flow after a bit and see if it's any stronger..

Tom :

What happens is...

Customer :

so how much do it usually cost to have my unit recharged?

Tom :

The cooling coil has rows of fins like your outdoor unit...IF it starts to ice up ..it blocks the air flow through the fins...resulting in poor airflow and more ice...eventually you lose cooling.

Customer :

oh, soory,finish and i will ask questions at the end...

Tom :

But usually you'll see signs of it on the refrigerant line...not always though..

Customer :

I saw the illustrations online, and thats what i thought might be wrong

Tom :

as far as $$...hard to say....A service all here is about $90/hr plus refrigerant...

Customer :

my refrige line is insultated too though..

Tom :

figure 35 - 45 dollars a pound for refrgerant.

Customer :

where are you located?

Tom :

So an hour and a half...plus 2 lbs could be $200 real quick.

Tom :

Iowa.

Tom :

Overtime more...I'm really sorry...I hope its just iced up a little.

Customer :

so probably around $400 to have it recharged?

Tom :

On a weekend...very possible.

Tom :

the thing is the leak is probably so small you'll never find it..

Customer :

and if it is the drain pan, is there a reset switch i would hit to turn the unit back on?

Tom :

If it were major you would have no cooling effect whatsoever..

Tom :

Only if it dumps into a little collection pump somewhere....and if the outdoor unit was running that wouldn't be the case anyway...

Tom :

I was trying to explore all possiblities..

Customer :

oh, so it would shut off the outside unit if it did overflow to make it shut off?

Tom :

If an overflow switch trips it shuts the a/c off until it drains..

Tom :

Yes...my thought was maybe it was cycling and perhaps you didn't know it..

Customer :

then it automatically turns back on on its own?

Customer :

how would i know?

Tom :

Yes...if the water level eventually drains...

Tom :

My feeling is that your drain line probably just runs outside somewhere along the foundation..

Customer :

well its 103 outside here now, i would think the heat would evaporate it pretty quickly

Tom :

If there is a condensate pump it's usually right on the side of the furnace.

Tom :

They use those when it's a long ways to a floor drain..usually in a basement application where there is no way to drain it outdoors...

Tom :

I have to remind myself sometimes that not everyone has furnaces in a basement...lol

Customer :

the line runs right outside, and its dripping about 3-4 drips a second

Tom :

Almost everyone in Iowa has them downstairs...

Tom :

OK..that is good...if its dripping now then perhaps it is thawing the coil..

Tom :

The filter was your best clue..

Customer :

yeah, it wasnt dripping barely at all earlier

Tom :

Water on the filter is not normal...If it ices a little some moisture can escape over the edge of the drain pan pretty easily..

Tom :

Well...maybe we're making headway..

Tom :

Let it go for awhile ... you need to make sure it's thawed 100%

Tom :

The three main reasons for a coil icing is a clogged filter...low refrigerant...dirty cooling coil...

Tom :

What type of air filter are you using?

Tom :

High efficiency pleated?

Customer :

I hope so. I am out on a work related injury, which is permanent.SO i only recieve $920 a month from workers comp.so calling for a tech would hurt me BADLY..

Customer :

how can i check those three things?

Tom :

I understand....

Customer :

no, just cheap 30-day toss out filters that come in a 5 pack

Customer :

so i need to get a high efficeny pleated filter?

Tom :

OK..well you've changed the filter....you'd need a gauge set to check the refrigerant charge...and as far as the cooling coil...it pretty much has to come out of the duct to inspect the bottom side of it...

Tom :

No I wouldn't do that..

Tom :

The thing is your coil needs really good air flow to perform..

Tom :

Low airflow will allow the coil to get too cold .. which can cause it to freeze over..

Customer :

oh,ok

Tom :

The pleated ones are good...you just have to change them alot.

Tom :

The drawback is the other ones allow more dirt and dust to pass..

Tom :

Catch-22

Customer :

haha,yeah. especially considering i live in th desert

Tom :

Pulling the cooling coil out to inspect is not an easy job and is a last resort..

Customer :

ok

Tom :

Restore air flow first...hopefully that resolves the issue. check refrigerant levels second.

Tom :

How cool does it get at night and how cool do you set your thermostat.?

Customer :

right now it gets to 70-75.usually around 73 on the thernostat

Tom :

My guess is if the cooling coil is a little bit dirty which could be expected after 20 years....and then you get a little bit of a dirty air filter the unit might be right on the edge where it loses enough flow to cause it to ice up a little...then if we have even a slight refrigerant loss due to a tiny leak over many years...you have a perfect situation for icing.

Tom :

That should be ok..

Customer :

ok, its not dripping that much now,just a few drops

Tom :

I have customers that like to set the stat at 66 or 67 and with the cooler night air the unit ice up.

Tom :

Well it's been 20 minutes... might be enough to try it..

Tom :

Usually I'll go a little longer but your house is pretty warm...

Customer :

should i turn the A/C back on,or wait longer?

Customer :

its 90 degrees in here now...

Tom :

Why don't you give it a go and see what happens..

Tom :

Does the air flow feel any different at all?

Customer :

the flow is the same. how long will it take for the air to get cooler?

Tom :

just a couple of minutes if it's going to..

Customer :

its a little bit cooler,but not much

Tom :

Rats..

Tom :

I'm still thinking a little bit of a low charge..

Customer :

whats the pipe next to the drain for thats capped off?

Tom :

On the side of the cooling coil?

Customer :

right

Customer :

is that for charging?

Tom :

It's probably just a shade higher than the drain...

Customer :

it has a srewed on cap

Customer :

yes

Tom :

It's an 'overflow' in case the normal drain clogs up...the water level rises and comes out the overflow...most guys plug them for some reason...easier than hooking them up I guess...

Tom :

The charging ports are on the condensing unit outdoors..

Customer :

ok

Tom :

I'm really sorry...I wish there was something else I could tell you....you've covered the bases very well.

Customer :

ok, so are we done chatting? I should call a tech to have them charge the unit,correct?

Tom :

Yes, that is the next step.

Tom :

Good luck...I hope it's an easy deal.

Customer :

me too, thank you.

Tom :

You're welcome. Tom

Tom, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
Satisfied Customers: 770
Experience: 16+yrs HVAC/R service. Residential Commerical Industrial
Tom and 5 other HVAC Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • You did one super job of explaining to me everything there is to know about this fridge. I'm looking forward to asking you questions in the future. Jimmy Bagley, IA
< Last | Next >
  • You did one super job of explaining to me everything there is to know about this fridge. I'm looking forward to asking you questions in the future. Jimmy Bagley, IA
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
  • I couldn't be more satisfied! This is the site I will always come to when I need a second opinion. Justin Kernersville, NC
  • Just let me say that this encounter has been entirely professional and most helpful. I liked that I could ask additional questions and get answered in a very short turn around. Esther Woodstock, NY
  • Thank you so much for taking your time and knowledge to support my concerns. Not only did you answer my questions, you even took it a step further with replying with more pertinent information I needed to know. Robin Elkton, Maryland
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • gotoman for ac

    HVAC Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    4657
    51 years of experience install design and repair of all makes and models of AC
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/SE/ServiceTechRus/2012-6-7_2119_056.64x64.JPG gotoman for ac's Avatar

    gotoman for ac

    HVAC Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    4657
    51 years of experience install design and repair of all makes and models of AC
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/AL/alumalite/2012-5-10_234018_shutterstock506249951forJA500.64x64.jpg Phil's Avatar

    Phil

    Mechanical Engineer

    Satisfied Customers:

    3888
    Retired HVAC/ Electrical & Boiler contractor. Industrial
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/skibum0101/2008-12-16_015819_just_answer.jpg Rick Mather's Avatar

    Rick Mather

    HVAC Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    3132
    35 years experience, HVAC
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RY/Rygis20/2011-5-7_3143_DSC5324.64x64.JPG Matthew's Avatar

    Matthew

    HVAC Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    1994
    14 years experience in the HVAC field of service, installation, Manual J & D calculations
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/KE/kentguidry/2011-9-26_214316_0059.64x64.jpg Kenton Guidry's Avatar

    Kenton Guidry

    HVAC Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    962
    12 years install/service experience.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/solarman1947/2009-12-13_223915_phpkKBcXq_c2PM.jpg Rick Ridley's Avatar

    Rick Ridley

    UK Heating Engineer

    Satisfied Customers:

    871
    Retired But have had 30 years on the tools, Ex CORGI
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/Ironheadfan/2009-12-18_222416_pump_005.jpg Tom's Avatar

    Tom

    HVAC Technician

    Satisfied Customers:

    770
    16+yrs HVAC/R service. Residential Commerical Industrial
 
 
 
Chat Now With A HVAC Technician
Tom
Tom
Journeyman HVAC/R service tech
770 Satisfied Customers
16+yrs HVAC/R service. Residential Commerical Industrial