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The Homeowner’s Guide to Staying Cool in Denver This Summer

Posted On April 11, 2024
An image of an Elkhorn Heating & Air service vehicle with black overlay and the title 'The Homeowner's Guide to Staying Cool in Denver this Summer' in white text.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Air Conditioner When It’s Hot Outside

Whether you’re building a home, replacing your system, or providing ongoing maintenance, your goal should be to get maximum AC performance at minimal cost. 

The primary purpose of your home is to protect you and your family from the outside elements. Every system in your home operates to create a safe environment while providing ultimate comfort during the hottest summer months. 

Your air conditioner is no different. It’s a system that helps you control the temperature level in your home so that you don’t feel the effects of the summer heat. 

Below, we provide a comprehensive guide on how to use and care for your air conditioner to stay cool in Denver this summer. From buying a new system to maintaining it, here are some tips for getting the most out of your AC system.

Quick Summary

  • Denver’s unique climate and weather affects your air conditioning system’s functioning in different ways.
  • When choosing an AC, look at how energy-efficient it is, if it can adjust to changing temperatures, and if it’s the right size for your house.
  • If you’re looking for the best type of air conditioning system for your Denver home, you can choose from central ACs, heat pumps that both cool and heat your house, and ductless ACs that don’t need big air ducts.
  • Consider ACs with smart thermostats that save energy, allow you to control different areas’ temperatures, and help keep the air clean.

Denver’s Unique Summer Climate

Denver, Colorado has a unique climate that presents challenges for air conditioners during the summer. Understanding Denver’s weather conditions helps you choose an air conditioner that can withstand the elements while delivering an efficient, consistent performance for its expected lifespan.

What makes Denver’s climate unique?

High Altitude

Denver sits at roughly 5,280 above sea level. This is why it’s called the ‘Mile High City’. The higher altitude results in lower air density. It’s at 82% of the sea level density. Keep in mind that it’s harder to cool air with lower density. 

Dry Air

The air in Denver is drier due to lower humidity levels. Drier air is common in locations that are further from the ocean and higher in elevation. 

Extreme Temperature Fluctuations

The combination of high altitude and dry air creates a wider temperature gap. That said, the fluctuations usually drop instead of rise. Even with the fluctuations, you can expect summer temperatures to range between the 70s and the 90s

Occasional Severe Weather

Denver experiences thunderstorms during the summer, which contribute to temperature fluctuations. It’s also known for hail storms. So, you’ll need to protect your outside AC unit.

Lots of Sunshine

Denver is a sunny city with over 300 days of sunshine annually. While the sunshine contributes to a relatively mild climate overall, it also contributes to the summer heat. You can expect a lot of sun during the hot months.

What to Consider When Choosing the Right AC for the Denver Climate

Now that you have a better idea of the Denver weather, you should buy an air conditioner best suited for the climate in this area. Not all ACs are built the same, so choose your product wisely. 

Here are some things to consider when staying cool in the Denver summer:

1. The SEER Rating

SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. 

According to, the SEER Rating is a measure of the efficiency of an air conditioning unit over an entire cooling season. You calculate it by dividing the total cooling output of the unit (in British thermal units or BTUs – see more below) by the total electric energy input (in watt-hours) consumed during the same period. The equation looks like this:

SEER = Total Cooling Output (in BTUs) / Total Electric Energy Input (in watt-hours)

The higher the SEER rating, the more energy-efficient the air conditioner is. The ideal SEER rating for air conditioners in Denver homes is between 14 and 18. ACs in this range give you a mixture of cost-effectiveness and energy efficiency.

2. Variable-Capacity Air Conditioners

Regardless of the brand or the features, a variable-capacity air conditioner is your best bet for the Denver climate. A variable-capacity air conditioner (a.k.a., a variable-speed or modulating air conditioner) adjusts its cooling output to match your home’s cooling needs. 

Unlike traditional single-stage or two-stage air conditioners that work at fixed capacities, variable-capacity units adjust their compressor and fan speeds continuously. This way, they deliver the exact amount of cooling required at any given time. 

This type of system works best in a climate with extreme temperature fluctuations. The temperature could suddenly rise or drop 30 degrees in Denver (which is not uncommon). Your AC would instantly adjust to match the outside temperature. 

The only downside is that you may need to change out your entire HVAC system (both cooling and heating units) if you upgrade to a variable-capacity model.

3. Your Home’s Square Footage

How big your home is determines how much power is needed to cool it. In the HVAC world, professionals measure that power in BTUs (British Thermal Units). 

To understand BTUs, you have to understand one simple concept: air conditioners do not produce cold air. Instead, they remove heat from the air, which essentially creates a cooler air environment. BTUs measure an air conditioner’s capacity for removing heat from the air. The bigger your home is, the more BTUs it requires to cool down efficiently. 

How many BTUs does your home require? For a general idea, look at the table below:

Home Square FootageRequired AC BTUs
100 – 150 sq. ft.2,000 – 3,000
300 – 350 sq. ft.6,000 – 7,000
700 – 1,000 sq. ft.12,000 – 14,000
1,000 – 1,200 sq. ft.14,000 – 16,000
1,400 – 1,500 sq. ft.18,000 – 21,000
2,000 – 2,500 sq. ft.24,000 – 30,000
A table showing the required AC BTUs per home square footage.

4. Design and Floor Plan

While your Denver home’s square footage is important, you also need to consider the overall design and floor plan. Here are some quick questions to ask yourself:

  • How many stories is my home?
  • Does my home have a basement? If so, does it get air?
  • Is the floor plan simple or complex?
  • How many livable rooms are in my home?
  • What material is my home made of? Wood? Brick? Metal (a.k.a, metal roof)?

The answers to these questions impact your cooling needs and purchasing decisions. Remember, you can consult an energy expert or HVAC technician to determine which air conditioner is best for you based on your home’s size, design, and materials.

5. High-Efficiency Air Conditioners

When buying an air conditioner in Denver, your goal should be to install a unit with the highest SEER rating possible. As we stated earlier, the higher the rating, the more efficient your unit is. 

As of 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) now requires all units to have a minimum SEER of 14. However, that rating is still considered just passable, which means it’s in the low-efficiency range. Consider this chart below:

CategorySEER Rating
Mid-Efficiency15 – 19
A table listing the corresponding SEER rating ranges for high-efficiency, mid-efficiency, and low-efficiency categories.

So, what is a high-efficiency air conditioner? Here are some practical criteria for a high-efficiency air conditioner.

  • A SEER rating of 20 or higher.
  • An ENERGY STAR certification
  • An air conditioner with enough BTUs to operate efficiently
  • Variable-capacity or variable-speed operation

When combined, these qualities help you achieve maximum efficiency in your home.

6. Additional Factors

In addition to the items above, there are other factors you should consider when buying a new air conditioner.

  • Cooling speed and thermostat adjustability
  • Installation and maintenance requirements
  • Noise level
  • Air quality features (filters, dehumidifiers)
  • Cost and warranty
  • Smart features (Wi-Fi connectivity, app control)
  • Brand reputation and customer reviews

While some features improve your air conditioner’s performance, others match your lifestyle. Consult an HVAC company in Denver to determine what is available and what helps you achieve your home cooling goals. 

Types of Air Conditioners for Your Home

There are three main types of air conditioner systems that work well for residential properties in Denver. Each type has the same function: to remove heat from the air and create a cooler home environment. However, they operate differently and have different installation requirements. Let’s take a closer look:

1. Central Air Conditioner

What is it?

A central air conditioner cools and dehumidifies air before circulating it throughout a home or building. It typically consists of an outdoor unit, which houses the compressor and condenser, and an indoor unit, which contains the evaporator coil and blower. The system is connected through ductwork that distributes the cooled air and returns warmer air to be cooled.

How does it work?

The central air conditioner works on the principle of refrigeration. The process begins with the refrigerant absorbing heat from indoor air at the evaporator coil. This causes the refrigerant to evaporate, turning from a low-pressure liquid to a high-pressure gas. The compressor then pumps the gas to the outdoor unit’s condenser, where it releases the absorbed heat into the outside air. 

The refrigerant cools down, condenses back into a liquid, and returns to the indoor unit to repeat the cycle. The indoor blower fan circulates the air from the house across the evaporator coil, allowing the cooled air to be distributed through the ducts while removing humidity and heat.

Image of a Denver AC technician servicing a central air conditioning unit

When is it the best cooling option for my home?

A central air conditioner is best for homes that have existing ductwork or when cooling multiple rooms or an entire house is desired. It’s ideal if you’re looking for a convenient, all-in-one solution that cools and dehumidifies your living space. It’s also a good choice if you prefer a system that is out of sight and operates quietly.

How well does it work in Denver?

Central air conditioners can work well in Denver’s climate. Variable-capacity central air conditioners (see above) are your best choice for the Denver area because they only work at full capacity when needed., which can save you money on your energy bill each month.

2. Heat Pump

What is it?

A heat pump can function as a heating and cooling system. It uses the outside air or ground as a source to heat a home in the winter and as a sink to cool it during the summer. Heat pumps transfer heat rather than generate it through combustion or resistance heating.

How does it work?

In cooling mode, a heat pump extracts heat from inside the home and releases it outside, cooling the indoor air. The main component that allows a heat pump to reverse its operation for heating is the reversing valve.

When is it the best cooling option for my home?

Heat pumps are effective in areas with mild to moderate climates. They are an excellent choice if your home doesn’t have natural gas, as they use electricity for operation. Heat pumps are for homes where both heating and cooling are needed, but separate systems are too expensive to install.

How well does it work in Denver?

With recent improvements in refrigerant, compressors, and coil design, today’s heat pumps provide reliable, consistent cooling, even in high temperatures. Plus, they work equally well during winter. So they’re an attractive option if you want cooling and heating from the same system.

3. Mini-Split Ductless AC

What is it?

A mini-split ductless AC is a type of air conditioning system that does not require ductwork to cool a space. It consists of an outdoor compressor/condenser unit and one or more indoor air-handling units. They’re connected by a conduit housing the power cable, refrigerant tubing, and a condensate drain. 

How does it work?

Mini-split ductless AC systems work by having the outdoor unit compress and cool the refrigerant, which is then sent to the indoor units through the connecting conduit. Each indoor unit has its own evaporator coil and fan, which cools the air in the room and circulates it back into the space. Since each indoor unit can be controlled independently, mini-splits give you temperature control in different rooms or zones.

When is it the best cooling option for my home?

Mini-split ductless AC systems are ideal for homes without existing ductwork. They’re also a great supplement for rooms that are difficult to cool with traditional systems. You can create independent climate control in specific areas or zones in your home. You can use them for a wide range of applications, from small apartments to large houses, particularly where installing ductwork isn’t possible.

How well does it work in Denver?

Mini split ductless air conditioners are adaptable to almost any climate, regardless of the temperature outside. The main reason for this is that the primary unit is housed inside. As with a standard heat pump, a mini-split unit also provides the benefit of both cooling and heating.

Which Type of Air Conditioner is Right for You?

Are you still having difficulty deciding which type of air conditioner is right for you? This handy table may provide some insights:

Advanced AC Features You Should Know

FeatureCentral AirHeat PumpMini-Split AC
Primary FunctionCoolingHeating and coolingHeating and cooling
Energy EfficiencyModerate, depending on the SEER ratingHigh, especially in mild climatesVery high, with high SEER ratings
InstallationHigh, requires ductworkModerate to high, requires ductwork for traditional systemsLow, does not require ductwork
Maintenance RequirementsRegular duct cleaning, filter changesSimilar to central AC, plus the need to switch modes seasonallyLess frequent, due to no ductwork, but regular cleaning of filters is needed
Space RequirementsSignificant, for both indoor and outdoor unitsSimilar to central AC, requires space for indoor and outdoor unitsMinimal, small outdoor units and compact indoor units
Zoning CapabilityPossible with advanced setupsPossible with advanced setupsInherent, each indoor unit can be controlled independently
Lifespan15-20 years15-20 years, can vary with climate20+ years, depending on maintenance
Climate-friendlyBest in areas with hot summersEfficient in areas with mild to moderate wintersSuitable for both hot and cold climates, excellent for targeted heating/cooling
A table comparing the features of central air conditioners, heat pumps, and mini-split ACs.

Today’s modern air conditioner offers a wide range of features that provide optimal performance in Denver’s arid and relatively mild weather conditions. Whether you’re buying a new home or replacing an older unit, consider adding these time- and money-saving features to your system.

Programmable Thermostats

A programmable thermostat lets you set temperatures for different times of the day and week. You can automatically lower the heat or AC when you’re not home or when you’re sleeping at night. It’s designed to save you energy and money. A programmable thermostat makes your home more comfortable and efficient without you having to remember to adjust it.

SMART Thermostat

A SMART thermostat goes one step further than a programmable unit by learning your habits and adjusting the temperature automatically. It connects to Wi-Fi so that you can control it via an app on your smartphone. It provides usage reports and other features. The unit even knows when you’re home based on your behavior and activity sensors.

Zoned Temperature Control

Zoned temperature control allows you to divide your home into different areas or zones. Each zone has separate temperature settings. You can heat or cool specific parts of your home as needed, without affecting the entire house—no more AC wars. It enhances comfort by catering to the unique temperature preferences of each person in each area.

Onboard Indoor Air Quality

Denver is a large city, which contributes to dirtier air. Instead of buying separate humidity or air quality devices to clean the Denver air, you can now get them built into your air conditioner system. Choose from washable air filters, whole-home air purifiers, UV lights, and whole-house humidity control. If you don’t want to isolate air quality in one area, onboard systems may be a better option.

Quick Summary

  • Keeping your AC in great shape is more cost-effective than paying for repairs or replacement, especially since Denver’s summer maintenance can be affordable compared to the high cost of fixes.
  • Denver’s summers, with temperatures from the 70s to the 90s, demand consistent AC use, making maintenance essential to avoid breakdowns during peak usage.
  • AC maintenance includes inspections, servicing, and cleaning by a technician to ensure your unit runs smoothly and efficiently, especially important in Denver’s varied summer climate.
  • Signing up for an AC maintenance plan can offer benefits like service discounts, priority service, and automatic reminders, making it a smart financial decision for long-term care.
  • Homeowners can perform simple tasks to support their AC’s efficiency and longevity.

How to Keep Your AC in Tip-Top Shape This Summer

Cooling your home is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done installation. Sadly, many homeowners install a new unit and forget about it until something goes wrong—which is usually sooner than later due to neglect. 

If you believe it’s not worth it to spend the money to keep your system in tip-top shape, consider this:

Even the most expensive annual maintenance typically tops out at around $500. However, it can be as high as $3,000 for a repair or more than $5,000 for a replacement.

The bottom line: No matter how you look at it, you come out ahead money-wise when you take care of your air conditioner. 

How Do the Denver Summers Impact My AC’s Maintenance Needs?

The summers in Denver can range from the 70s to the 90s with an average temperature of 84°F from May to September. Let’s break it down month by month:

A timeline showing the average daily temperature in Denver during the summer months and highlighting the best time to schedule different air conditioning services.


Daily average temperature: 77°F

May is the turning point where the weather transitions from spring to summer temperatures. You may start using your AC sporadically, depending on your preferences. So, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to schedule AC maintenance to prepare for the upcoming heat wave.


Daily average temperature: 82°F

Summer is in full swing in June, but the temperatures are still relatively mild. Still, you’ll use your AC more to maintain a relatively mild temperature inside. On average, homeowners prefer the inside temperature to be between 69 and 75 degrees. 

June is a great time to observe your AC. Since you’re running it more, you may notice small issues. If so, contact your AC technician right away. They can inspect your system and solve any small issues before the hottest months arrive.

July and August

Daily average temperature: 88°F

Overall, the hottest part of summer in Denver is still relatively mild, with occasional spikes into the high 90s and even 100s (specifically over the last five years). However, the night temperatures are still mid, between mid-50s to 70s. 

Any problems with your air conditioner are likely connected to ongoing day and night use, which leads to wear and tear on the equipment. To reduce unneeded use, you can install a programmable or SMART thermostat and tell your air conditioner when you want it to turn on.

What Is Air Conditioner Maintenance and What Does It Include?

Air conditioner maintenance is a seasonal checkup and service for your cooling system. It helps your AC run more smoothly against the Denver climate. It includes three main jobs:

  1. Inspections: The technician performs a routine inspection of all the parts. They’re looking for any potential issues that affect your unit’s performance.
  2. Servicing: Servicing is performing small routine tasks that improve your system’s performance. The technician tweaks different parts so that they run better.
  3. Cleaning: The HVAC technician cleans specific parts to remove harmful dirt, chemicals, and buildup. Cleaning the parts helps them run more smoothly. 

Now, let’s get a little more specific. Although each HVAC company in Denver provides different services, most of them follow a similar process when maintaining your AC. Below are some common AC maintenance tasks.

Filter ReplacementReplace or clean air filters to ensure efficient airflow and improve air quality.
Coil CleaningClean the evaporator and condenser coils to prevent reduced heat absorption and cooling efficiency.
Coil Fin StraighteningStraighten bent coil fins to restore airflow and system efficiency.
Drain CleaningClean the condensate drain to prevent water damage and humidity issues.
Refrigerant CheckCheck refrigerant levels and recharge if necessary to ensure optimal cooling.
Thermostat CalibrationCalibrate the thermostat for accurate temperature control and energy efficiency.
Electrical Connections CheckInspect and tighten electrical connections to ensure system safety and reliability.
Lubrication of Moving PartsLubricate motors and bearings to reduce friction and wear.
Blower Components AdjustmentAdjust blower components to ensure proper airflow and system balance.
System Controls CheckTest system controls to ensure proper start, operation, and shutdown sequences.
Ductwork InspectionInspect ductwork for leaks, obstructions, and insulation issues to ensure efficient air distribution.
Condensate Pump InspectionCheck the condensate pump to ensure it is functioning correctly and efficiently.
Airflow MeasurementMeasure airflow through the evaporator coil to verify it meets design specifications.
Safety Devices CheckTest safety devices to ensure they are functioning properly to protect the system.
Air Leakage CheckInspect for air leakage in the AC unit and ductwork to prevent energy loss.
Performance EvaluationConduct a comprehensive performance evaluation to ensure the system is operating efficiently and effectively.
A table listing air conditioning maintenance tasks with corresponding descriptions for Denver homeowners.

Why You Should Sign Up for An AC Maintenance Plan

HVAC companies in Denver may offer an annual maintenance plan, which is a service agreement that includes scheduled AC maintenance visits. The service calls include the same services as a regular maintenance service but with additional perks and privileges. 

Although plans differ per provider, they provide practical, tangible benefits. In some cases, you can recoup your subscription within the first visit or two. Some maintenance plan perks typically include:

  • Service discounts: The service provider gives you a lower rate for specified services.
  • Specials: You may receive specials that are not offered to the public.
  • Priority service: No matter how busy the technicians are, they put you at the front of the line.
  • Automatic visits: You get instant annual or seasonal service calls.
  • Notifications: The HVAC company notifies you when it’s time for your scheduled visits.

The goal of a maintenance plan is to save you money, keep your system running, and get you preferred service. Therefore, it’s worth your time to explore the plan and its perks.

How to Take Care of Your Air Conditioner

Although you should leave most AC maintenance to a certified HVAC technician, there are some things you can do to supplement professional care. Many of these items require little effort and almost no industry expertise. 

1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

No, it’s not the most interesting thing you’ll read this year. However, the manufacturer’s owner manual provides valuable information on how to take care of your air conditioner. If you can’t find the hard copy, go online and find a downloadable PDF. Most manufacturers offer digital copies specific to your model.

2. Change the AC Air Filter

If you have a disposable air filter, you should change it according to the owner’s manual. The manual will also tell you what type of filter is best for your brand and model. Refer to this chart below for a general idea of when to change the filter in your home:

Filter TypeChange Frequency
Fiberglass Disposable FiltersEvery 30-60 days
Pleated Media FiltersEvery 90 days
Electrostatic FiltersEvery 90 days
HEPA FiltersAnnually or as recommended
UV FiltersCheck the manufacturer’s guidance
Activated Carbon FiltersEvery 3 months
A table showing how often filters should be changed depending on the type of filter.

3. Clean the Area Around the Outside AC Unit

Cleaning the area around the outdoor unit prevents blockage and potential damage. Remove debris, such as leaves, twigs, and dirt, which can block airflow and reduce the system’s performance. Keep a two-foot clearance around the unit for optimal air circulation and easy access for maintenance. Look for mold or algae around the unit and remove it with a safe cleaner.

4. Check the Condensate Drain Line

Your air conditioner produces condensation. A drain pan catches the condensation and drains it outside of the house. Buildup can clog the drain, which causes the AC coil and lines to freeze up. You can inspect the drain pan and lines to make sure they are draining properly. 

5. Check the Vents for Proper Airflow

Turn on the AC and check the vents in every room. The air should be flowing out of the vents without disruption. If the airflow is weak or non-existent, there is likely a problem with the ductwork, the blower, or the coils. Contact an HVAC technician to inspect the system and fix the problem.

6. Check and Calibrate the Thermostat 

Your user manual should provide instructions for calibrating and assessing the thermostat. Calibrating the thermostat makes the entire system more efficient. Make sure all features are working properly. Replace the batteries if needed.

7. Winterize the Outside AC Unit

Taking care of your AC when it’s hot starts long before summer begins. To winterize the outside AC, start by turning off the power to the unit. Remove debris and clean the surrounding area. Cover the unit with a waterproof cover or tarp to protect it from snow and ice. Ensure proper drainage to prevent moisture buildup. Doing this will make it easier to restart the AC in the spring.

8. Address AC Problems Immediately

Here’s the rule of thumb: The longer an AC issue persists, the more expensive it gets. A $150 problem can easily turn into a $500 problem, which almost always leads to more $500 problems. If you notice an issue with your system, contact your HVAC company in Denver right away. Don’t wait until your system completely breaks down and leaves you suffering in the hot Colorado sun.

9. Keep Your Home Insulated

A home full of holes allows cool air to escape and warm air to invade. One of the best ways to maintain an efficient system is to provide proper insulation in your attic, windows, doors, windows, and even in your crawl space. Try to create a tight, but breathable envelope around the house. You’ll notice a significant difference in how well you can control the temperature in every room.

10. Open All Inside Doors and Air Vents

Conventional thinking suggests that closing doors and air vents redirects cool air to target areas. However, shutting off airflow makes your system work harder, leading to premature repairs and replacement. Plus, your air duct network is designed for optimal airflow. Cutting it off only reduces its full capacity for cooling your home. 

Quick Summary

  • Air conditioners can have problems like leaks or dirty filters that make them work poorly.
  • If your AC stops working right, turn it off and shut all windows to keep cool air in.
  • Call a professional to check your AC if it has issues or if you notice bad smells.

How to Troubleshoot & Fix AC Issues

As your air conditioner ages, it will start to experience problems. While some problems are small and require a quick fix, others can blow your budget or require a full system replacement. In some cases, a damaged AC can produce dirty air or lead to health risks. 

Let’s take a look at some common AC repairs, how to identify them, and what you should do when they happen. 

10 Common Air Conditioning Problems

All air conditioners are complex systems with lots of moving parts. For this reason, they will have problems along the way. Below are ten common AC problems, their root causes, and their symptoms.

1. Refrigerant leaks

  • What happened? Loss of refrigerant due to leaks in the system.
  • Why did it happen? Corrosion, loose connections, or manufacturing defects.
  • What to look for: Reduced cooling capacity, hissing noises, ice buildup on refrigerant lines.

2. Frozen evaporator coils

  • What happened? Accumulation of frost or ice on the evaporator coils.
  • Why did it happen? Restricted airflow, low refrigerant levels, or malfunctioning components.
  • What to look for: Warm air blowing from vents, reduced airflow, and water leakage.

3. Dirty or Clogged Air Filters

  • What happened? Accumulation of dust, dirt, and debris on air filters.
  • Why did it happen? Lack of regular maintenance or high levels of indoor pollutants.
  • What to look for: Reduced airflow, decreased cooling efficiency, and increased energy bills.

4. Faulty Thermostat

  • What happened? Inaccurate temperature readings or failure to control the HVAC system.
  • Why did it happen? Electrical issues, calibration problems, or aging components.
  • What to look for: Inconsistent temperatures, HVAC system not turning on/off as expected.

5. Electrical Issues

  • What happened? Problems with electrical connections, wiring, or components.
  • Why did it happen? Wear and tear, poor installation, or power surges.
  • What to look for: Tripped circuit breakers, flickering lights, burnt smells.

6. Capacitor Problems

  • What happened? Malfunction of the start or run capacitor.
  • Why did it happen? Aging, electrical issues, or overheating.
  • What to look for: HVAC system not starting, humming noises, frequent cycling on/off.

7. Compressor Failure

  • What happened? Loss of compressor function, leading to inadequate cooling.
  • Why did it happen? Overheating, refrigerant issues, or mechanical failures.
  • What to look for: Warm air blowing from vents, loud noises, tripped breakers.

8. Fan Motor Issues

  • What happened? Malfunction of the blower or condenser fan motor.
  • Why did it happen? Lack of lubrication, electrical problems, or worn-out parts.
  • What to look for: Reduced airflow, unusual noises, overheating.

9. Drainage Problems

  • What happened? Blocked or damaged condensate drain line.
  • Why did it happen? Accumulation of debris, algae growth, or improper installation.
  • What to look for: Water leakage, mold or mildew growth, and musty odors.

10. Improper Sizing Or Installation

  • What happened? A mismatch between HVAC system capacity and home size or ductwork.
  • Why did it happen? Incorrect assessment, shortcuts during installation, or DIY errors.
  • What to look for: Inadequate cooling/heating, frequent cycling, uneven temperatures.

What to Do When Your Air Conditioner Breaks Down

When something goes wrong with your air conditioner, you need to respond quickly to minimize further problems. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to respond to an AC breakdown.

Step 1: Turn the System Off

Operating a damaged air conditioner is the equivalent of running with a broken leg. It’s only going to get worse. Once you suspect a problem, turn the AC off with the thermostat (there’s no need to unplug it or turn the fuse switch off). 

Step 2: Close All Windows and Doors

If your home is well-insulated or under tree shade, it can retain some of the cool air. If they’re not already, close all windows and doors and seal the house from the outside air. Refrain from running any appliances that produce heat, such as the stove or clothes dryer. You may also want to turn off as many lights as possible.

Step 3: Contact an HVAC Company in Denver

Contact a certified HVAC company in or near Denver. Explain the problem and the symptoms. Try to prepare the house for the technician’s arrival. Remove all items in the tech’s path and work area. Make it as easy for them to do their job as quickly as possible to restore cool air to your home. Make sure you get an assessment and estimate and agree to the terms before work begins.

Step 4: Get Out if You Smell Something

If the AC is producing a toxic smell, turn the system off immediately and get out. Do not try to open the windows or doors. Leave the house and call an HVAC company in Denver. Harmful smells may include, burning or electrical, rotten eggs or sulfur, musty odors, chemicals, natural gas, or burning rubber. Each of these signifies that there’s something seriously wrong with your air conditioner. 

Quick Summary

  • Look for an HVAC professional in Denver with current licenses, good reputation, emergency services, professional demeanor, and positive customer feedback.
  • Hiring a certified technician ensures the job is done right, avoids potential legal issues, and protects your warranties.
  • Certified HVAC technicians have the experience and skills to prevent future problems and deliver lasting solutions.

License and Certification Requirements for HVAC Professionals in Denver

Before we get into what you should consider before hiring an HVAC professional, it’s important to know about Colorado State and Denver county/city requirements for licensing and certification.

Contractor’s License

Colorado doesn’t have a formal HVAC license at the state level. However, Denver County and City do.

For example, the City and County of Denver require the following to apply for a contractor’s license: 


The Denver Mechanical Certificates program requires six years of experience in HVAC installation, including:

  • Four years of field installation experience in a journeyman or on-the-job training program completing a minimum of 7,000 hours
  • Two years experience as a designer or supervisor

How to Find and Hire Reputable HVAC Professionals in Denver

One of the biggest challenges you face as a homeowner is finding a Denver HVAC company that checks all the boxes:

  • Is licensed, certified, and insured
  • Provides fast service
  • Charges reasonable rates
  • Gets the job done right the first time with lasting results
  • Is prompt, friendly, and respects your property
  • Communicates clearly about everything associated with the job
  • Don’t try to upsell yourself if it’s not necessary
  • Can provide all kinds of references from recent satisfied customers

While it’s almost impossible to find a local company that checks all the boxes, a reputable, experienced HVAC contractor should come close. And, yes, with a little effort, you can find a trustworthy technician who can work on your air conditioner with positive results. 

Here’s a checklist of things to look for when searching for a Denver HVAC company in your area.

An infographic checklist titled "How to Choose a Denver HVAC Company".

1. Submits Current Credentials

A qualified technician should be able to provide current credentials without hesitation. Credentials include a business license, industry certification (specifically residential AC certification), liability insurance, and bonding. If they can’t or won’t produce these credentials, don’t hire them. You’re taking a major risk if something goes wrong. 

2. Has Gained High Visibility

The company is everywhere. You see them around town, online, and possibly even on TV. Everybody’s heard of them, and they have a reputation that goes back several years. There is a story and legacy to their name. They’ve been serving homeowners for a long time and are proud to show it. They’ve become a household brand, which they’ve built over several seasons.

3. Offers Emergency AC Service

Let’s face it. A good HVAC technician is always busy with a filled schedule. However, that does you no good when you need help right away. Look for a company that provides emergency AC service. Some companies offer 24/7 service. Others only provide it during operating hours. Either way, there are too many companies that provide this service for you to settle for less.

4. Arrives Looking and Acting Professional

A company that’s been around a while understands the importance of presentation. Marked vehicles and uniformed staff instill confidence and credibility. A homeowner feels better about letting them in the door. They should also be courteous and respect your property. They speak and act professionally on every level. 

5. Receives Positive Customer Feedback

When comparing HVAC providers in Denver, look for customer feedback. Two indicators of a reputable company are consistently high ratings and glowing reviews & testimonials from dozens or even hundreds of customers. You can find reviews on the company’s website (which should also exist). You can also spot them in Google search results or on social media.

6. Provides Clear, Accurate Communication

An honest technician anticipates your questions or concerns and doesn’t give you the runaround. They’re not afraid to discuss rates or prices. They tell you exactly what’s wrong without confusion. They walk you through the process so that you know exactly what they’re going to do and how much you’re going to pay for it. It’s obvious to you that they’re trying to help you out and not just take your money.

Why You Should Hire a Certified Technician for AC Service

It’s easy to see how you could confuse this section with a sales pitch. After all, there are instances where technicians try to pressure or upsell clients to make a few more dollars. 

While these things happen, an experienced, honest professional knows that doing right by the customer creates a win-win situation in which everybody succeeds through partnership, not high-pressure sales.

It’s important to know the actual reasons why you should leave AC installation, maintenance, and repairs to a certified HVAC professional in Denver. These are logical, practical tips that can save you a lot of headaches when addressing issues. 

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

When you work with HVAC systems day in and day out over a period of years or decades, you can see a problem from all angles. You can prevent further problems because you already know their potential. You know the dos and don’ts of every project. Only a seasoned technician can approach any job with this amount of perspective. An inexperienced homeowner cannot. 

Certification Covers a Multitude of Potential Catastrophes

From code violations and HOA guidelines to lawsuits, warranties, and disputes, hiring a certified technician can prevent a lot of problems that may result in catastrophe for you. There’s no point in risking a huge problem just to save a few extra dollars.

You May Void Your Warranty or Insurance Policy

Two things homeowners are often unaware of is how their DIY projects affect warranties and homeowners insurance policies. Both home and AC manufacturer warranties often explicitly state that certain jobs must be performed by certified professionals. By doing your own work, you may void a warranty. Your insurer may also deny a claim if they find out you worked on the house prior to a disaster.

You Won’t Get the Result You Want

HVAC professionals have the training, skill, and equipment to work on all types of AC problems and on all types of brands and models. Therefore, they can fix problems quickly with long-lasting results. Your DIY job may put a band-aid on an issue and may come back to haunt you down the road.

If you need expert air conditioning services in the Denver area, contact Elkhorn Heating & Air today for reliable and professional HVAC solutions tailored to your needs.

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