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Old 07-22-2010, 09:34 PM   #1
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AC problem or insulation problem?

So I live in an ancient house, no insulation and no room for insulation in the walls, giant gaps between the door frame and door (I'm working on that), etc.

In my area daily highs are around 95-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The A.C. currently runs nonstop all day long and manages to keep the house at an unbearable (for me, a fat guy that sweats a lot) 88 during the day and down to 82ish just before dawn. Electricity bills are at $500 per month, compared to $200 in the winter when we didn't have heat running at all.

I moved in near the middle of last summer and was too busy to pay attention to the A.C much, but I'm pretty sure we had it set to 78 or so and it could get it down to that temperature without running nonstop. Viewing my electricity bills seems to confirm this as we were paying around $350 for the same months last year.

So is there any way to identify if my A.C is not working correctly? Cold air is blowing out of the vents, scientifically measured at around 67 degrees by sticking a meat thermometer into the vent

I'm a fairly competent diyer, I work on my car and with electronic devices as a computer engineering major, so I'm not afraid to open things up and tinker with them, but A.C. units is just uncharted water for me, if someone could point me to some guides and schematics I would be very grateful...


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Old 07-22-2010, 09:44 PM   #2
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Where are you located ?
Do you know how old the AC is ?
Size of the unit ?
Sq ft of house ?

Without insulation & sealing the leaks in the house there is only so much an AC can do
A bigger AC would help
Window units to assist ?

Insulation & sealing the house will save you $$ in the long run


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Old 07-22-2010, 10:54 PM   #3
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I am at work atm, so some answers are just guesstimates:

Living in South Carolina.

No clue about A.C. age,

I don't know how A.C. size is measured, but it is about 2' x 2' x 3',

Don't know house sq ft, but it is 5 br kitchen and pretty large hallway.

I'm aware that more insulation would help immensly, but the house was built with no space in the walls for it, I'm only planning on living there for 1 or 2 more years so major rennovations just would not be cost efficient and I'm limited to minor door/window insulation.

We also have several beefy (and hot) computers running pretty much all day which don't help.

The crux of the problem though is that the A.C. seems to be performing worse than last summer, I'm just trying to figure out if there is a problem with it before I call the landlord and ask her to send someone out.

How cold should the air be coming out of the vents? It is on the cold side of cool, but it seems to me like it should be colder - don't know what it was like before though since I never checked it before now. Like I said, my super scientific experiment of sticking a meat thermometer down the vent shows that the temp is around 67.

I can't seem to find any possible problems online that would cause the AC to work but not at full capacity - anyone know what could cause this?

As stated, I don't mind getting inside the unit and am in fact quite interested in learning about the mechanics of an AC unit, I just don't know where to start (besides flipping the breaker of course :D)
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Old 07-23-2010, 11:05 AM   #4
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88-67 = 21 F seems like a good delta T to a non-HVAC guy.
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Old 07-23-2010, 04:25 PM   #5
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Since you rent.

Call the landlord, and ask her to have someone check it. Or at least ask her for permission first.

If you happen to break something that you can't repair. You would be responsible for paying for it to be repaired. Why risk it.

Although. You might want to change your air filter. if you haven't since last year. Or ever.
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Old 07-23-2010, 05:54 PM   #6
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Start with the basics and work your way up. Make sure you have a clean air filter, and good airflow out of your ducts.

If that seems good I would ask the landlord to send out a tech to look at the unit.


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