Why your AC may be Overheating (+ Tips to prevent )

During the hot summer, you can often count on your AC to keep you and the family cool and comfortable.

Sometimes though, your AC may not work as well as expected, for example, it may shut down several times, especially during the hot summer days making it more unbearable with the high temperatures!

Can this be caused by overheating?

Read on to learn if an AC can overheat, what signs may show that it is indeed overheating, why your AC can overheat, and how you may prevent it.

Can an AC Unit Overheat?

Yes, an AC can overheat and stop working for a moment until it has cooled down enough.

This may happen if the AC is not properly installed or if it is not regularly serviced.

What Happens when an Air Conditioner Overheats?

Most times, you can expect your AC to shut down – the display and cooling function may stop working for example. In other cases, the fan may continue running until the temperatures are low enough for it to operate safely.

You can consult your owner’s manual for the recommended operating temperatures for your AC.

Many modern ACs now have an inbuilt safety relay that is activated and shuts down the AC when the temperatures are higher than recommended.

When your AC’s temperature drops low enough within the recommended operating range then the safety relay resets and you can then use the AC normally again.

Another sign of an overheating AC that you can look out for though not conclusive, is when you receive warm instead of cool air from the AC yet the AC’s temperature has been set low enough.

Of course, this can also be a case of lack of regular servicing of the AC or that the free flow of air around the condenser is obstructed one way or the other.

Keep in mind that it may take an air conditioner several hours to cool down a space if it has been warm for some time.

What Causes an AC Unit to Overheat (How to Fix It)?

If your AC is overheating and shutdown, work through the likely causes listed below:

# 1. Is the AC (usually a portable type) installed with enough space around it to allow air to flow freely around it?

Consult the owner’s manual for the recommended spacing of the AC.

# 2. Check if the condenser unit is exposed to direct sunlight. If the condenser is exposed to direct sunlight then it is likely to overheat from a combination of the hot air extracted from the room and the heat from the run.

You can build a shade around the condenser unit to block the direct sunlight from shining on it.

# 3. Has the AC been serviced recently? The AC’s filters should be cleaned regularly to remove dust and any other debris that may have built up and is now restricting the flow of air in the AC.

If the filters are blocked then the AC will not cool properly and can overheat.

Make sure that your AC is serviced regularly. You can follow the manufacturer’s instructions or use the services of an AC technician.

Can an AC Unit Catch Fire?

Yes, it is possible for an AC unit to catch fire. I am aware of a few incidents of ACs catching fire from the online research I have conducted but cannot confirm if it was a result of the AC overheating or an improperly done installation.

For example, cables supplying power to the AC may have been undersized or even loose, sparking and starting the fire.

You can minimize the likelihood of fire by following the electrical code for your area and using the services of a qualified electrician.

What to Do when an AC Unit Overheats?

Usually, you do not have to do anything unless what caused the overheating is something you can address directly.

For example, if the air conditioner or condenser has been installed in a confined space with poor airflow.

You can relocate to allow free flow of air.

Modern air conditioners shut down when they overheat and are only able to resume working once the temperature is back to normal.

How to Prevent an AC from Overheating

You may be able to prevent your AC from overheating by following some simple steps.

#1. When you install the air conditioner’s condenser, make sure you provide a shade for it so that the sun does not shine directly on it.

If you do this, you’ll be contributing to stopping additional heating caused by the sun.

#2. Make it a point to service the air conditioner’s filters to remove any dust that may have built up over time.

When you do this, you’ll have better airflow around the air conditioner which helps keep it running cooler.

Lastly, and this applies more to the portable air conditioners, always position them so that there are no obstructions around the sides.

This helps keep the air flowing freely around the AC which keeps it cool.

Final Word

Yes, an AC can overheat. With modern ACs, when this happens, it will shut down automatically and reset itself for normal use after its temperature is back to normal.

Overheating of the AC will likely be caused when you do not properly service it regularly, or you place the AC around surfaces or objects maybe a wall that slows down the flow of air, or the condensr is exposed to direct sunshine.

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