“My air conditioner isn’t cooling very well. What’s wrong?”

It could be any of a number of things:

Low refrigerant: An A/C system requires a certain amount of refrigerant to cool properly. If low, it works less efficiently and does not cool well.

Dirty condenser : The condenser is the heat exchanger mounted in front of the radiator. It cools the high pressure refrigerant vapor after it exits the compressor so it can condense into a liquid. If the condenser is full of leaves, bugs and road debris, air flow through the unit may be blocked to the point where little cooling occurs. Cleaning the condenser should cure the problem. Inoperative condenser cooling fan. The condenser often has its own separate electric cooling fan. This fan should come on and remain on when the A/C system is operating. If the fan motor, motor relay or wiring is defective, the fan may not be working.

Air or moisture contamination : For the refrigerant inside the system to do its job properly, it must not be contaminated with air or moisture. Air reduces the cooling efficiency of the system while moisture can freeze and form ice that causes blockages in orifice tubes and metering valves. Air and moisture contamination may be the result of unrepaired leaks in the system, or failing to vacuum purge the system prior to recharging it with refrigerant.

Blockages : Debris, rust or debris in the system may plug up the orifice tube or metering valve that admits refrigerant into the evaporator. If this vital point becomes obstructed, the flow of refrigerant may be restricted or blocked causing a loss of cooling — and possible compressor damage as well in systems that rely on oil circulating with the refrigerant for lubrication.

Mechanical problem: These include things like metering valve failures, compressor wear, a compressor clutch that fails to engage, bad pressure switches, etc. Pinpointing the problem will require the skills of a competent A/C technician


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