3 Reasons Why Heating & Cooling Systems Overheat

An outdoor AC unit with a technician's toolbox on top and a pair of yellow gloves

What Happens When A Heating & Cooling System Overheats?

When your furnace or air conditioner overheats, it may run for a few minutes before eventually tripping the circuit breaker, and unfortunately, your system will continue to trip the circuit breaker until the overheating issue is solved. An overheating HVAC system is a problem that no one wants, but it’s a fairly common issue, particularly during the summer.

Why Is Your HVAC Overheating?

Three of the most common reasons why HVAC systems overheat are clogged air filters, refrigerant leaks, and dirty condenser coils. These issues force your heater or air conditioner to work harder to produce the temperature and quality of airflow you need, which results in the system overheating.

We will dive into the details of these common causes, along with tips for what you can do to prevent or solve the problem.

1. Clogged Air Filter

Your HVAC system’s air filter prevents dust and debris from getting inside of the system and making its components less efficient. However, if the air filter becomes overly clogged with dust and other airborne particles, it will not allow a sufficient amount of airflow through your heating and cooling system.

When your system does not have adequate airflow, the components are forced to work harder to condition your home. The strain that this puts on your HVAC system can force it to overheat and break down or trip the circuit breaker.

Tip: Change Your Filters Regularly To Prevent This

Make sure to check on your air filter every 30 days to ensure that it is not clogged with dust. Although many disposable air filters can last up to 90 days, you may need to change your air filter more frequently if you:

  • Have pets
  • Have a lot of people living under one roof
  • Have someone in the household who smokes indoors
  • Have recently moved or completed a home renovation/construction project

2. Refrigerant Leak

An adequate amount of refrigerant is vital for the cooling process to occur in your air conditioner. Refrigerant removes heat from the air in order to make it cool. If your air conditioner does not have enough refrigerant (usually due to a leak), your HVAC system will overwork until it overheats.

Tip: Don't Attempt To Fix The Refrigerant Leak On Your Own

Refrigerant issues should only be handled by a professional heating and cooling technician. Specialized training is required in order to handle refrigerant properly and repair a refrigerant leak.

3. Grimy Condenser Coils

The condenser is your air conditioner’s outdoor unit. When everything is functioning properly, the condenser’s coils release heat that they’ve collected from inside your home into the air outside. That’s why it’s so important to provide adequate room for ventilation around and above the condenser. Unfortunately, the condenser’s heat-releasing coils can get very dirty.

When this happens, all of the heat that the coils are collecting will not be released properly because the grime that’s caked onto the coils is preventing the heat from escaping. Once this starts to happen, the system will have a harder time conditioning the air for your home and will start to struggle to reach your desired temperature. This can result in the HVAC overheating.

Tip: Invest In Annual HVAC Maintenance To Prevent This.

Getting your air conditioner cleaned and serviced once a year can greatly reduce the risk of this problem ever happening. Dirty coils are easy for a technician to spot and remedy, and during the maintenance service appointment, they can make sure that the rest of your system’s components are in good working order.

Bottom Line

If your HVAC system keeps shutting down or tripping your circuit breaker, check your air filter, and if your air filter isn’t the issue, contact a professional HVAC technician to check for dirty coils or a refrigerant leak.

When you need quality AC and heating services, Carter Comfort Systems is your small town HVAC hero. Experienced and accredited with the Better Business Bureau, we are more than just hot air. Contact us today or request your free estimate online!