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Why Does My Air Conditioner Run Constantly?

working-on-outside-unit-ACThere’s something comforting about the sound of the air conditioner in your home starting up for its next cycle–unless it never stops. Your air conditioner should only run until it reaches the temperature on the thermostat. Of course, on a hotter day, it will take longer to do so. Still, an air conditioner that runs nonstop, day and night, is not going to do the job properly.

So what’s going on with your air conditioner? And can you solve the problem on your own? That depends, but you can learn more by reading on or contacting one of our experienced AC technicians.

2 Common Thermostat Mistakes

In the best case scenario, you’ve simply been setting your thermostat incorrectly. If this is the case, don’t worry about it! It happens a lot, but you can read your thermostat’s manual or talk to a technician to make sure you use it properly from now on. There are two ways your thermostat settings may cause your air conditioner to run nonstop.

  1. The thermostat is in “fan only” or “fan on” mode, rather than “cool.”
  2. You’ve set the temperature too low.

First, a fan alone cannot cool a house. Second, many people get home from a long day of work and immediately turn the temperature down on the thermostat as low as it can go. The problem is that on a hot day, your air conditioner is not capable of reaching temperatures in the 60°s. It will NOT cool your home any faster. It will simply wear out the air conditioner, running constantly to keep the house way cooler than you need. Try keeping the thermostat at 78° and keeping it there. You might be surprised at what you save!

Improper Sizing

This is an unfortunately common problem that usually occurs when a homeowner has entrusted someone with little HVAC experience to install the new air conditioning unit. The problem is that the air conditioner is too small to effectively cool the home, which means it cycles continuously to reach the right temperatures (which rarely happens). The only solution is a system replacement, and we’ll caution you not to get an air conditioner that’s too large either. (This leads to short-cycling, a similarly inefficient process.)

Dirty Air Filter

This one’s a simple solution–but you should never let it get to this point. A dirty air filter can have a surprisingly devastating effect on the performance and efficiency of your air conditioner. It can make it so that air cannot get through to your HVAC system, meaning that it will take a lot longer for it to cool your home. Change your air filter every month, and try changing it before you call a technician if you suspect this is the culprit.

Low Refrigerant and Other Repair Needs

Typically, an air conditioner has to run nonstop because something is preventing it from cooling the house down. An example is low refrigerant levels. Refrigerant is the chemical blend responsible for moving heat outdoors (a key step in refrigeration). Without it, your air conditioner will have to work much harder in an attempt to keep you cool, running nearly nonstop.

You’ll have to call in an expert to make this diagnosis or any other–fan troubles, electrical failures, etc.–that may interfere with the air conditioner’s cooling ability. That way, you’ll know the repair is completed properly the first time around.

Call Bartels Heating & Cooling for professional air conditioner repair in West Chester, OH today!

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