Staying Cool During Monsoon Season


We are going to tackle this topic today because we get a lot of phone calls, texts, emails and social media posts about air conditioning units not keeping up during the hot and humid Phoenix monsoon season.

Before you dive into this article be aware that the following conditions are not normal and should be addressed by an HVAC contractor:

  • The thermostat never drops below 80°
  • The unit blows room temperature or hot air
  • The unit is loud or sounds different than normal
  • The air inside is too humid
  • The air coming from the vents smells musty or moldy

First and foremost… Only buy the cheap fiberglass filters and change them religiously!

Dirty HVAC air filter
A dirty filter caused this system to stop working

A dirty or thick restrictive filter will seriously hinder your air conditioners ability to work properly and in many cases will cause ice and excess water to collect on the indoor coil or the fat copper line on your outdoor unit. We see many water damaged ceilings every monsoon cycle because of this.Your air conditioner might not be physically able to keep your home or business as cool and dry as you’d like. Up to 25% of your air conditioners capacity can be used just to remove moisture from the air. This means that a unit that normally works really well may struggle and or fail to reach the desired thermostat set point and it may not be able to keep the air dry enough to feel comfortable. This means you must have your HVAC system serviced so that it can be in peak form when it is needed the most. Common problems we find are:

  • improper refrigerant charges
  • dirty or restricted indoor and outdoor coils
  • leaking ducts
  • clogged drain lines

Lets take a look at each of these problems individually.

Digital gauges with temperature clamps to ensure proper charge.
Digital gauges with temperature clamps to ensure proper charge.

Most air conditioners in Arizona are split systems, meaning there’s a condensing unit located outside and an air handler or furnace and coil inside. Research has shown that from the day of installation most split system air conditioners either have too little or too much refrigerant. This issue increases the amount of electricity the unit consumes, reduces the lifespan, and negativity effects how well the unit works.



This unit didn't perform well until this was cleaned.
This unit didn’t perform well until this was cleaned.

Secondly, overtime the indoor and outdoor coils will become dirty which slows down airflow and also reduces how well the unit cools or heats the air.If dirty, a professional cleaning will increase your air conditioners capacity, increase the life of the unit, and save you money on the electric bill.



A very poorly installed duct system leaking air in the attic.
A very poorly installed duct system leaking air in the attic.

The third one on this list is a no brainier. Leaking ducts will either pull the hot humid air from your attic and bring it into your home or business or it will take the cool dry air that the unit just conditioned and then blow it into the attic. We recommend having your duct system checked and if needed repaired in the cooler months.



The Primary and Secondary drain pans and lines.
The Primary and Secondary drain pans and lines.

The last monsoon concern we have is the air conditioners condensate drain lines. These are the white plastic PVC lines that carry the water from the air conditioners evaporative coil to the outside of the home. Most units have two lines that attach to separate water collecting drain pans. More water is creates when the air is humid and if the lines are clogged or if the unit is producing moisture faster than the lines can drain you will get water overflowing the pans. We recommend having the drain pans and condensate lines treated and flushed yearly. It’s also a good idea to have a flood protection switch installed by a certified HVAC technician. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

About the author 

Curtis Callaway

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