Is my air conditioner broken??

I have central air and I live 50 miles north of NYC. For the last week it has been over 90 degrees in the afternoons. I have my thermostat set for 74 degrees for the peak period (Noon - 5 PM). It is set at 76 for the prior period (6am - noon).
My problem is this:
My air conditioner can not drive down the temp. on the thermostat lower than 76 during this hot spell. (I had no probs. in cooler weather). I bought my house 5 years ago and the unit was here. I think it is 10 years old. I have never had it serviced and I think it has always been like this.
Does anyone think that this is a problem? Is this normal? What should I do?
TIA Mark
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Make sure the coils are clean. If you have never had it serviced or even looked, the exterior fins may be royally clogged with dirt and such. A good hosing could help. Beyond that, I defer to the HVAC people.

than
years
this.
do?
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what do you do on the outside unit? turn it off and point the hose??

it
PM).
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That can bend the fins on the coil and make matters worse. Carefully brush away any debris, but don't use anything of power.
As for the 76 degree temperature, that may be the design limit of the unit. I have no idea what was installed, what the calculations were, etc. Others pointed out the potential for dirty filters and that is a good idea to check.
There could be other problems, but I'll defer to the AC experts for that. Ed
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It is likely you are going to end up on a list for service, as I'll bet there are a lot of others just like you already on the list.
Until then, you can try making sure the outside part of the A/C is not blocked by plants or other obstructions and is clean (try the hose, not too strong).
The second thing you can do while you are waiting for your appointment is to make sure the air filter/cleaner is clean. If you have to ask where is it or how do I clean it, you just found out the likely cause of your problem. However it may have caused other problems that a simple replacement of a filter will not fix.
In any case, do have someone out to check it out, even if you can get it working to your satisfaction.
You want an occasional visit from the serviceman for two reasons. First, he may be able to prevent more expensive problems or at least he may be able to give you a warning that one is about to happen. The second one is you will then have someone you trust to call when the day comes that it no longer works. If you are an established customer, you are likely going to spend less time trying to stay cool with the windows open.
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Mark W. wrote:

when its 90 degrees outside at 5 pm, how hot is it in your attic at this time??? is it 148 degrees... get on a step stool and touch your ceiling and feel the heat coming in through the ceiling.... it its hot then you probably have bad ventilation in the attic and need to get that taken care of.....
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jim wrote:

Hey, good point that most of us missed. A well ventellated attic can reduce house temperatures by 10 degrees.
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You might try changing that stuffed up air filter and vacuuming off those fuzzy return grills. .

than
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actually i cleaned the outside grills and the inside filter

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Mark, do you have cottonwood trees near your house? If your unit has not been cleaned or serviced in 10 years, the outside unit needs to cleaned and condenser fan motor oiled. Problem with cleaning the condenser yourself is if you leave the power turned on and start using the water hose it could be bad news. Check the indoor unit filter and replace if needed. Does it have a belt drive blower, if so check the belt. Best way to get it done right... call in a Pro. B.G.

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You might need a little more freon. We just had about 1/2 pound added to our 18 year old unit and it seems to cool faster. Cooling was fine but we called the repairman to check because my wife heard it gurgling at the furnace. Also, check the outside unit and wash or blow the leaves and other stuff out of the fins. Second, if the outside unit is in the sun, find some way to give it some shade: tree, bush, umbrella, etc. It could be that your unit is undersized for the house if it doesn't usually get that hot in your area.
"Mark W." wrote:

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than
years
this.
do?
this is Turtle.
You have not told me anything that I would concider being bad but it has not been serviced in 5 to 10 years. That is a problem it'self for wearing your motor / equipment out by just a few things that could be off a little. Have it serviced atleast once in it's life weither you think it needs it or not.
Now if you want to see about your system , you can run this test on it. Take the thermostat and put the asking temperature to 74 degrees at nite before you go to bed. Then leave it on 74 for 24+ hours till the next nite. now you should keep 74 degrees all nite and day which includes the peak hours of noon to 6 PM. It it will hold and not let temperature go above the 74 degrees in that 24 hours. I would think it is ok as far as nothing major wrong. now you can be tearing up things as you go and still holding the 74 degrees in your home.
Have your unit serviced atleast once in it's life to be sure your not costing you too much to operate the system by having something small wrong or just buy you a new one every 10 years and don't service it.
TURTLE
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Good advice. There is no point trying to change the temp during the day. I would prefer in the hotter weather that it could not bring the temp down or it would not run enough when it isn't quite as hot and not remove enough of the humidity.

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Hi Mark, hope you are having a nice day
On 06-Jul-03 At About 09:48:15, Mark W. wrote to All Subject: Is my air conditioner broken??
MW> I have central air and I live 50 miles north of NYC. For the last MW> week it has been over 90 degrees in the afternoons. I have my MW> thermostat set for 74 degrees for the peak period (Noon - 5 PM). It MW> is set at 76 for the prior period (6am - noon).
MW> My problem is this:
MW> My air conditioner can not drive down the temp. on the thermostat MW> lower than 76 during this hot spell. (I had no probs. in cooler MW> weather). I bought my house 5 years ago and the unit was here. I MW> think it is 10 years old. I have never had it serviced and I think MW> it has always been like this.
MW> Does anyone think that this is a problem? Is this normal? What should MW> I do?
First thing to do is have it properly serviced. this may solve the problem.
-=> HvacTech2 <=-
.. "You keep saying that, I don't think it means what you think it means"
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