Your air conditioning system is designed to keep your home cool and comfortable, but sometimes the air coming from your vents might just be just a bit too cold for comfort. While it may seem counterintuitive, extra cold air can be indicative of a significant problem with your system. If you notice that your vents seem to be blowing air less suited to a comfy suburban home and more suited to the arctic circle, then it's time to start troubleshooting. To get started, it's first important to understand how the different parts of your AC system work together.
Should You Turn The Thermostat Up?
For many people, turning the temperature up is the first response to a room that's too cold. While this might help, it probably doesn't do much to address the underlying problem. Contrary to common belief, the thermostat only controls the target temperature, not the temperature of the air coming from your vents. When your room is too warm, the thermostat instructs the air conditioner to turn on. Once the room is up to temperature, the thermostat turns off.
In practice, this means that adjusting the thermostat temperature will only work if the room temperature is too cold or too warm. If the air coming from the vents seems to be much colder than usual, then something else is amiss. In this case, turning the temperature up won't increase the temperature of the air, it will just cause the air conditioner to run for less time.
You've Probably Got a Refrigerant Problem
When your AC is running, your compressor effectively acts as a pump. By increasing the pressure of the refrigerant, it's able to travel indoors to your evaporator unit. Once inside, the cold refrigerant absorbs heat from your home, cooling the surrounding air. For the system to function correctly, the refrigerant must be at precisely the correct pressure. If you are low on refrigerant for any reason, your system will actually produce much colder air. With less refrigerant, the evaporator coils are likely to freeze up, resulting in frigid air being blown throughout your home.
Unfortunately, this cold air is more than just a minor nuisance. Your compressor works much harder when your refrigerant pressure is incorrect. This extra work can cause the system to freeze up entirely, or even damage the compressor and cause it to fail prematurely. A failure of this type can turn a relatively cheap refrigerant refill into a thousand dollar or more compressor replacement.
Dealing With Cold Air
The most important thing to remember is that icy air from your AC system is not normal. If you are experiencing frigid air from your vents, contact an HVAC professional for AC services as soon as possible. Checking and refilling your refrigerant (and addressing any leaks that may exist) can potentially save thousands of dollars in future repairs.