What To Do if a Hotel Room Air Conditioner Isn’t Working

Hotel air conditioning is essential in keeping the rooms cool and comfortable as well as improving indoor air quality. Thus, if the air conditioner in your hotel room stops working, the room can get stiflingly hot or extremely cold. You’d need to do all you can to restore the air conditioner as soon as possible.

Here’s what to do if a hotel room air conditioner isn’t working:

  1. Check the thermostat settings.
  2. Check the power.
  3. Adjust the sensor.
  4. Disable the motion sensors.
  5. Avoid exposing the air conditioner to direct sunlight.
  6. Turn off the inactive air conditioner.

Knowing how to resolve common AC issues can come in handy if your hotel room’s air conditioner stops working or fails to provide adequate cooling. Read on to discover potential air conditioner problems and how to sort them.

1. Check the Thermostat Settings

As a guest in a hotel, you expect your room to offer optimum comfort. Effective climate control is thus a key element in delivering a comfortable atmosphere and ensuring that your hotel experience remains pleasant.

Comfort air conditioning entails:

  • Ideal temperature: Normal human body temperature is usually between 36-37℃ (96.8-98.6°F), so a daytime temperature setting of 24-25℃ (75-77°F) is fairly comfortable. However, temps between 19-21℃ (66-70⁰F) might send you to look for warmer clothing. For nighttime, the ideal temperature is between 15-19℃ (60⁰ and 67⁰F). Besides, if your room is too cold or hot, you might find it difficult to sleep.
  • Air movement: While fast air movement can be rather distressing during colder months, zero air circulation can lead to the accumulation of pollutants, which can be detrimental to your health.
  • Good air conditioning capacity: The air conditioner should have adequate capacity to achieve comfortable cooling with minimal effort.
  • Humidity: For your health and maximum comfort, the humidity in your room should not go beyond 50%, as this could lead to condensation. High humidity causes the body to lose less sweat through evaporation. However, it can also lead to mold and the buildup of musty odors. In general, dry or humid air makes it more challenging to achieve comfortable room temps, while extremely high or low humidity might induce discomfort.
  • Air purity: The air should be clean and fresh. Stale and polluted air impacts comfort cooling negatively.

But what if your hotel room is too warm or too cold and the air conditioner remains unresponsive?

If you notice that your room is becoming unusually hot, check whether the thermostat is set correctly. If not, adjust accordingly by setting it to cool. You’ll also want to check that the temperature setting is not off. If it’s set to heat, on, or a constant fan, switch to cool.

Once the system kicks back on, wait for a couple of minutes before checking whether cold air is blowing from the registers. If so, your problem is solved.

However, it’s common practice for many hotels to restrict the range of their thermostats by keeping them within a certain limit. This is because doing so makes it easier for them to manage the entire hotel’s air conditioning from a central location, thereby reducing their energy costs.

The limit set often depends on the hotel’s location and the prevailing climate.

While the Department of Energy recommends a temperature setting of 25.5℃ (78⁰F) when you need to keep cool, people have their individual preferences. Some prefer staying in much cooler environments, and they might find such a setting somewhat warm and might want to reduce the temperature by a few degrees to feel cooler.

However, your attempts to get your hotel room warmer or cooler might prove unsuccessful, as the AC might be locked in place or merely move a few degrees.

Luckily, you needn’t suffer through unbearable heat or bitter cold since there is a way to override these limits, enabling you to make your room warmer or cooler. Just be careful not to mess with any unfamiliar thermostat settings because there’s a risk of disabling the system or causing damage.

To override the hotel room’s thermostat, take the following steps:

  1. Hold down the display button.
  2. While still holding down the display button, press the off button.
  3. Continue holding down the display button, but release the off button.
  4. Next, press the up arrow.
  5. Release all the buttons.
  6. You can now adjust temperature controls according to your preference.

Here is a short video showing you exactly how to do this:

2. Check the Power

While there are many reasons why your air conditioner might fail to work, such as low refrigerant levels, one simple explanation could be that it’s not connected to power.

If the AC is not blowing out cold air, check whether there could be a loose connection.

Ensure the AC is correctly plugged into the power outlet. If it is, the electrical panel might be the problem. Because air conditioners use a lot of power, the unit could have blown a fuse which you can easily replace. However, if the issue is a tripped breaker, this would require a trained professional to attend to the matter.

3. Adjust the Sensor

Maintaining thermal comfort is essential for your health. This is because allowing your core body temperature to rise significantly higher or go lower than is optimal can affect your health negatively.

For instance, high temperatures could impact diabetes management, and respiratory health and exacerbate dementia symptoms.

Hotel room air conditioners come equipped with a thermostat sensor to measure the temperature of the air entering the evaporative coil. The sensor is typically located behind the control panel, next to the coil, but it shouldn’t touch it.

Now, if the sensor, for some reason, gets knocked out of its usual position, the air conditioner could start behaving erratically or cycle constantly. To remedy the situation, adjust the sensor’s position by bending the wire, and securing it in place.

4. Disable the Motion Sensors

Motion sensors are designed to reset the AC system whenever you are not in your room in order to save on energy. The motion sensors come equipped with infrared detectors and door switches to aid in tracking your presence.

As a result, they restrict your room’s heating and cooling to only when you are present in the hotel room. Unfortunately, this system results in your room getting sweltering hot or bitingly cold when you are out.

This forces you to wait for the room to gradually cool off or warm up upon your return.

Even worse, the same phenomenon can happen when you fall asleep at night, especially if you sleep soundly, as the air conditioning simply shuts off. Now, depending on how the motion sensor is set, it resets the air conditioner settings if there is no movement in the room for a couple of hours.

This means that you might have to wake up sometime in the night and walk around or roll over in your bed for the AC to keep working. All this can be quite unpleasant.

Luckily, you can use the trick in step 1 above to disable the motion sensors, enabling you to take control of your room’s heating and cooling.

Alternatively, try the simple trick shown in this video:

5. Avoid Exposing the Air Conditioner to Direct Sunlight

At times, you might find that your AC is not blowing air that’s cold enough, no matter how far down you turn the thermostat.

What could be the problem? Is your hotel room too sunny? If the air conditioner is next to a window that receives direct sunlight during the day, it will have to work extra hard to cool your room.

Since you don’t have the luxury of moving the AC to a cooler spot, one helpful tip is to ensure your curtains and shades remain drawn during the daytime. This will prevent the sun’s direct heat from warming up your room, making it easier for the air conditioning unit to maintain coolness.

How To Keep Your Room Cooler

Here are additional tips and tricks to keep your room cooler without the air conditioner:

  • Turn on the ceiling fan. While increasing the airflow in your warm room will not reduce the temperature, it will make you feel much cooler and comfier. This is because moving air in a warm or humid space can boost heat loss through convection.
  • Shut the windows during the daytime. Shutting your windows helps to seal in cooler air and prevents sunlight from streaming in through the opening.
  • Turn off the air conditioner. If the outside is cool enough, consider switching off the faulty air conditioner and opening your windows during the night to cool your room naturally. The cooler outdoor air will help maintain your room’s temperature at a moderate level. What’s more, the breeze will get rid of sweat, keeping you cool.
  • Use a wet towel. If the air in your hotel is too dry, wet a towel, then hang it on the shower rail. Doing this will help distribute moisture around the room. Alternatively, try hanging a wet blanket over your open window to help cool down your space. The damp blanket works by cooling the air that breezes in, bringing with it a welcome relief.
  • Place a bowl of cool water in front of the fan. Putting cold water in front of your fan causes the spinning fan to spread the coolness of the water around your room, which results in a cooler room. Ensure to keep the windows shut to trap the air inside. If you have access to ice, you can use it as well. The ice will generate cold air, which the fan will blow into the surrounding, which makes an ideal alternative to the AC.
  • Adjust the ceiling fan. Did you know that you can alter the settings of your ceiling fan? Ceiling fans feature two modes, which means you can generate a breeze in summer or push warm air downwards during winter. During summer, the ceiling fan should spin counter-clockwise and vice versa in winter. You only need to ensure to use the correct setting, or you might end up cooling your hotel room rather than warming it.
  • Employ the Egyptian method. The Egyptian method entails using a damp sheet to cover yourself in order to stay cool during hot nights. Stretching out your body between the cool, moist sheets helps lower your body’s temperature while contributing to a cooler, refreshing environment. When carrying out the technique, make sure to set your fan on low because too much cooling might cause discomfort or make you catch a cold.
  • Wear lightweight pajamas. Your sleepwear has a significant influence on how cool or hot you feel at night, thus directly impacting your sleep. If you get too hot, you will find it hard to drift off. So, for a good night’s sleep, take a shower, preferably cold, then dress in light sleepwear. Choose pajamas made from 100% cotton or cotton blends for warm summer nights and keep heavier polyester-based sleepwear for cold winter nights.
  • Sip ice water. Sipping ice-cold water can help cool your body from the inside. To take advantage of this simple hack, freeze a small bottle of water and keep sipping it throughout the night. The icy water will chill your insides, affecting your core temperature and enabling you to cool off. You can also place a damp cloth on your neck or freezing water bottles underneath your feet.

6. Turn Off the Inactive Air Conditioner

Finally, if you have exhausted all your options and the AC still won’t work, turn it off. Next, inform the hotel management so they can call an HVAC service provider to assist. Leaving an air conditioner that’s not working to continue running can lead to more severe problems.

For instance, if the issue is an iced-up system, the ice would need to thaw out first, so the repairs would have to wait, leading to lost income. Additionally, a faulty AC that’s left running undergoes excessive stress and can lead to adverse failure or damage.

Final Thoughts

Traveling for work or leisure means spending days and nights in hotel rooms. But a dysfunctional air conditioning unit can mess up your entire experience if not sorted out quickly. Furthermore, a high room temperature could affect your health adversely.

To ensure your utmost comfort whenever you travel, keep in mind the simple hacks discussed in this article and use them whenever your air conditioning malfunctions.


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