7 Causes of a Constantly Running Air Conditioner

By in
7 Causes of a Constantly Running Air Conditioner

You want your air conditioning system running efficiently, not constantly. When your air conditioner runs constantly, you have a big problem in your hands and you did not get there overnight.

Air conditioning systems generally last a long time, but their upkeep, or lack thereof, plays a crucial role in hitting peak performance and reaching the expected lifespan. For instance, you must check regularly if filters and coils are dirty, if there is enough airflow from the supply vents, and if there are other signs of wear and tear. An HVAC technician must be called in to fix whatever little problem there is so it doesn’t balloon into something big.

Maintenance contributes to the efficiency of your air conditioning unit. After all, your AC undergoes a lot of pressure on a daily basis. Additional stress means your AC has to work harder to remove heat from your home and replace it with cold air.

When an air conditioner runs constantly, that’s a sign you’ve neglected your AC. Your cooling system should run for about 15 minutes per cycle on a summer day. A cycle time of 30 minutes is too long. Unless your unit is an old one about to get replaced, you probably didn’t catch little AC issues until they cause your air conditioner to run constantly.

Now that the guilt trip is out of the way, here’s the good news: it’s not the end of the world, much less your AC unit. Call an HVAC technician immediately. He will diagnose the problem and fix it so your AC will once again meet your home’s cooling demands.

To give you an idea of what may be causing your air conditioner to run constantly, we rounded off 7 causes for you. By taking note of these reasons you can avoid the same problem from happening in the future.

1. Dirty Air Filter

Your air filters need to be cleaned at least once a month. It’s as simple as that. If there’s one thing you can and should do for your air conditioner, it’s to clean the filters regularly or replace disposable ones every month. Also, make sure you purchase brand new air conditioner filters that are the correct size and MERV value. Even a brand new air filter can work against you if it’s too restrictive and does not allow air to easily flow.  Such a simple task can improve the efficiency of your air conditioner.

When the air filter has excess dirt and debris, airflow is restricted, which then affects other air conditioning components. Without sufficient air flowing over the coils, the system can’t cool the air and remove humidity. Restricted airflow across cooling coils causes air conditioning units to have a long cooling cycle.

How can dirt and debris accumulate so fast in the air filter?

The air conditioner is not just responsible for cooling your home. It also prevents air pollutants from re-circulating the air. The air filters are responsible for this job. Basically, air filters protect you and the rest of the HVAC system.

Air pollutants are not just harmful to your health. They can affect the performance of the HVAC system too. Can you imagine what will happen to an air conditioner if, for instance, animal hair and dander are not filtered? It will wear down the blower motor, clog the drains and the vents, and cling to the fans.

frozen evaporator coil

2. Frozen Evaporator Coil

Ice on the evaporator coils? That’s not exactly a bad thing, right? It is. 

Even when you don’t really see ice, a frozen evaporator coil is still not good for your air conditioner.  When not fixed immediately, it can cause your air conditioner to keep cycling on and off.  What does the evaporator coil do and why does it affect the cycles of your air conditioner?

Contrary to popular belief, the air conditioner does not produce cool air. The refrigerant absorbs heat from inside the house, cooling the air before moving to an outdoor coil to release the heat. The indoor coil that contains the refrigerant is the evaporator coil. When it is frozen, it allows no warm air to heat the refrigerant.

The refrigerant can’t do its job effectively when the evaporator coil is frozen. Without the refrigerant, no conditioning or cooling is possible at all.  

A frozen evaporator coil is a common air conditioning issue that may be caused by dirty filters, broken fans, a malfunctioning thermostat, blocked condensate lines, and refrigerant leaks. When you suspect the evaporator coil has frozen, call an air conditioning technician right away. 

3. Low Refrigerant Charge

We previously mentioned the refrigerant and its role in the cooling process in your home. Your air conditioner works by circulating refrigerant through two sets of coils. The refrigerant, which starts out as a liquid, is converted to gas in the evaporator coils. It absorbs heat from the surroundings and moves to the condenser coils where it releases the said heat.

When there is a low refrigerant charge or pressure, the temperature is also low. The refrigerant cannot cool warm air effectively. As a result of the insufficient cool air, the air conditioning system compensates by running constantly. This means the cooling demands of the home will not be met but your utility bills will increase due to constant energy consumption. 

4. Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat is basically the “brains” of the heating and cooling system in your home. It tells the air conditioning system when set temperatures in your home have been reached. If your thermostat is not registering temperature difference readings properly, it can cause a problem and your AC will keep running on and on. 

The thermostat is one AC component you should check before calling a pro. Check if the thermostat is set correctly based on your temperature preferences, your routine, and the manufacturer’s recommendation. 

If you’re keen on upgrading an older thermostat model, ask your HVAC technicians about smart thermostats. They are more efficient and more cost-effective. They give you the power to control the temperatures in your home anywhere you go. 

5. Leaky Air Ducts

Leaks in the duct system prevent conditioned air from reaching the supply vents and from cooling your home. As a result, your home won’t be cool enough to achieve a set temperature, prompting the A/C system to keep on running.

There are many possible reasons for air leaks. Age, normal wear and tear, and even pests and animals trapped in the duct system can cause holes and cracks in the pipes. In the past, home and business owners had to use mastic and duct tapes to seal air leaks from the outside. Now, interior duct sealing is possible, which is a convenient and efficient way of fixing air leaks.

If you suspect duct leaks are causing your AC system to run much more than usual, call us at Air Care Cooling & Heating LLC and one of our trusted technicians will inspect your ducts and the rest of your AC system. We provide interior duct sealing, retrofitting, and other HVAC services.

block air conditioner coil

6. Dirty or blocked condenser coil

Since the outdoor unit is exposed to the elements outside the home, it can get dirty, clogged, or blocked and cause the AC to keep on running. A dirty condenser coil is a big problem and will affect your energy bills.

The condenser condenses the refrigerant and turns it into liquid. Because of its outdoor location, dirt and debris can easily clog the condenser, reducing its efficiency. You may have to call in the air conditioner experts for emergency service, but first, clean the area around the outdoor unit.

It’s important to regularly clean the area around the condenser unit to prevent any issues. Leaves, branches, other vegetation should not be anywhere near the condenser. If leaves get stuck inside the condenser, it may damage the fans and prevent them from working. 

Most systems will have issues if the airflow is restricted. The same is true with the outdoor unit where the condenser coil is located.

7. Blower motor issues

The blower motor blows air throughout the AC system. Remember, the air has to move through the system to the air vents to cool your home. The blower motor provides the power to move air efficiently, so when it’s not working properly, the system will run constantly in order to reach set temperatures and give comfort to your home.

The blower motor is not something you should tinker with on your own. Call an air conditioning expert who can fix the problem for you.

Tips to Prevent AC from Running Constantly

Ensure you have the correct-size AC Unit

If you recently moved or renovated your house, make sure to ask your HVAC technician to do a heat load calculation for you to determine if you have the correct AC size to meet your home’s cooling needs.

When the A/C system is sized too small, it can’t meet your home’s cooling demands. It just can’t cool your home so the air conditioner runs constantly to compensate.

On the other hand, if your air conditioner is too large it will cool too quickly and is also a problem. The heat from your home in the summer months will not be removed properly. The airflow cycles will be too short, and without the ac running for the proper amount of time, the humidity cannot be removed.

Have regular maintenance performed on your home heating and cooling system

HVAC maintenance is not something you want to skip on if you want your cooling and heating unit to meet your home’s needs consistently. The higher your air conditioner’s age is the more important it is. Maintenance keeps your unit in peak condition for consistent cool airflow in your home, saves on energy bills, prevents a minor problem from becoming a major one, and extends the life of your HVAC system.

HVAC problems that cause your air conditioner to run too much should be addressed by an HVAC professional immediately, but there’s a lot you can do to contribute to the upkeep of your AC. Simple things like cleaning the filter and the area around the outdoor unit counts as maintenance too.

It’s not surprising if the HVAC system is one of the most neglected equipment in your home and constant AC cycles are one of the most common problems homeowners encounter. While it’s a relief to know that constant cycles can be fixed, don’t wait for it to happen before you look for an HVAC contractor you can trust.

HVAC contractor

Find an HVAC contractor you can count on

Find an HVAC contractor you can call for any emergency service. For as long as you have heating and cooling systems at home, you will need an HVAC contractor for one service or another.

At Air Care Cooling & Heating LLC, we strive to provide excellent workmanship and outstanding customer experience. Our goal goes beyond fixing one HVAC problem at a time. Instead, we hope to build lasting relationships with our customers and help ensure they have cool air for their comfort at home.

Leave a reply