Why is My Air Conditioner Running Constantly?

While it’s great that your air conditioner is running and helping to keep your family cool during the summer, it’s not such a wonderful thing to think of how much energy is being wasted if the unit runs constantly throughout the day. This could be costing you a lot of money on your electricity bills, as well.

So, what causes this common AC problem? Several different issues could be the culprit.

1. Your air filter is clogged.

It cannot be stressed enough just how important it is to routinely replace your filter. This is often the primary cause of an air conditioner that never seems to shut off. If your filter is full of dirt and dust, it will significantly decrease the amount of cool air your unit can move, thus causing the system to run continuously to keep up with the demands of your thermostat setting.

2. Your air conditioner is not the right size for your home.

If your system is too small to meet your family’s cooling needs, it will run all day and night to try and keep you comfortable. All of this extra work could cause premature wear and tear on the system, and in turn, expensive repair work.

If the unit is too big, it won’t cycle on for long enough to effectively remove humidity from inside your home (moisture from the air). This could cause the inside of your home to feel damp and uncomfortable.

3. Your ducts aren’t the right size.

If your ducts are too big or small to handle the air flow from your air conditioner, it could cause an improper distribution of cooled air throughout all levels and areas of your home.

4. Your thermostat isn’t working properly.

It can be difficult to tell whether or not the problem with your constantly running AC is an issue with the system itself, or if it’s the result of a malfunctioning thermostat. The solution to the problem may be as simple as putting new batteries into the thermostat.

To see if the problem is with the air conditioner, set up a thermometer along the wall where the thermostat is installed. If, after several hours, the thermometer has a similar reading to your thermostat, then the issue is likely with the air conditioner itself and not with the thermostat.

5. Your home lacks proper insulation.

If the exterior walls, attic space, and basement of your home aren’t properly sealed, your home’s cool air can escape. Additionally, cool air can leak out through gaps in your window and door frames. Professional energy auditors can help you pinpoint areas of air loss in your home, and they can also recommend the most effective way to seal them.

6. You need to schedule a maintenance appointment with a cooling professional.

In addition to replacing your air filter on a regular basis, it’s important to schedule routine air conditioner maintenance each year. During your maintenance appointment, a cooling professional will thoroughly clean your system and check for issues that could potentially cause a breakdown in the future. Routine maintenance may also help make your system more efficient and increase its lifespan.

If the internal parts of your air conditioner are full of dust, your system can’t run as efficiently as possible, and this may result in issues with airflow and improper cycling. Maintenance will address this.

7. Your air conditioner is old and in need of replacement.

Regardless of how well you have maintained your cooling system over the years, sooner or later it’s going to become inefficient. It’ll have to run more often in order to meet the demands set by your thermostat. The typical air conditioner will last for 10-15 years. If your unit is this age or older, it may be time to consider a replacement. New air conditioners are energy efficient and use less electricity than models from a decade ago. Be sure to choose a new unit with a SEER (seasonal energy efficiency ratio) of at least 13. The higher the SEER, the more energy efficient your unit will be.

Whatever may be causing your air conditioner to run more often than usual, it’s a problem that should be handled sooner rather than later. Failure to take care of the issue could result in higher electricity bills, and a hot, uncomfortable home if your unit breaks down from all the excess wear and tear.