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Should My Air Conditioner Be Running All Day?

This is a tricky question.

First off, it is summertime in Arizona. If your AC cycles on and off less than it usually does but the indoor temperature stays close to your set temperature, this is normal.

It’s inevitable that on particularly hot, summer days your AC will struggle to keep up. If this is your case, here are some “quick fixes” for a struggling AC.

But if your air conditioner literally never stops running, it can’t reach the set temperature, and you’re miserably uncomfortable all the time, one of these 5 things is wrong:

Let’s look at each of these issues and how you can troubleshoot to determine the problem.

Your system isn’t getting enough air

Think of your AC unit as a living machine.

It breathes in warm air from inside your house and exhales cool, dry air.

So if your system can’t breathe in enough warm air, it also can’t provide enough cool air to reach the set temperature, which explains why it runs non-stop.

Things to check for:

What to do: What you should do depends on what’s limiting the flow of air.

If you have a dirty filter, replace it.

If you notice that the cage around your blower fan (located in the air handler) is dirty, clean it (Be safe and make sure it’s not running while you do so).

If you’ve done the above but your AC is still running non-stop, you’ll need to hire a professional to see if your blower fan needs to be replaced, your insulation levels are low, or if your ducts are leaking cool air.

You have a refrigerant leak

Refrigerant is what absorbs the heat from inside your home and carries it outdoors.

So if your system has a refrigerant leak, it can’t cool your home as efficiently as it should.

Things to check for:

Related: 4 Signs Your AC May Need a Refrigerant Charge

What to do: Have a professional inspect your unit to find and repair the refrigerant leak. Once the leak is repaired, have them recharge your system with the correct amount of refrigerant.

Dirty or blocked evaporator/condenser coils

Your evaporator coil (located in the indoor unit) is responsible for absorbing heat from the air inside your home. Your condenser coils (located in the outdoor unit) are responsible for dumping that heat outdoors.

If either the evaporator or condenser coils are dirty/blocked, your AC will run constantly because either heat isn’t being absorbed from your indoor air or the condenser can’t dump that heat outside.

Related: Dirty AC Condenser Coils: Why You Need Them Cleaned in Phoenix

Things to check for:

  • A visible layer of dust or dirt on the evaporator or condenser coils
  • Warm air coming out of the vents
  • Sticks, leaves, or shrubbery that’s blocking your condenser coils

What to do: Make sure your outdoor unit has room to “breathe” (i.e. keep shrubbery, trees, fences, etc. at least 2 feet away from the unit). Also, remove leaves or debris that may be blocking the coils.

If you can see a layer of dirt covering the coils avoid trying to remove/clean it yourself as you could cause more damage. Have a professional clean the coils instead.

Your AC is undersized

If your air conditioner is too small for your home, it will never provide the cooling that you and your family need to be comfortable.

That’s because ACs are sized according to how much heat they can remove from your home.

So relying on an AC that is too small is like buying pants that are a size too small: It doesn’t quite get the job done and leaves you uncomfortable.

Things to check for:

  • You just got a new air conditioner or recently added onto your house.
  • You either didn’t hire a professional to determine the correct unit size or your tech used the “rule of thumbs” to size your system.
  • The air coming out of the vents is cool and the rest of the system works properly but your home isn’t cooling down.

What to do: If your unit was just installed, contact the company responsible for the sizing and installation. If they sized your system incorrectly, they are responsible for fixing it.

If you’ve recently renovated your home and you need to upgrade your AC size, have a professional contractor perform a Manual J Load Calculation and replace your current unit with one that better matches your home’s cooling needs.

Need help understanding what size AC you need? Check out our article, "What Size Central Air Conditioner Do I Need?"

Your system is old and needs to be replaced

Air conditioners don’t last forever. The older a unit gets, the less efficiently it works.

If your system runs non-stop and doesn’t keep you comfortable anymore, it could just be an old unit that needs replacing.

Things to check for:

  • An air conditioner that’s over 12 years old
  • A system that requires frequent repairs

What to do: Hire a reliable company to walk you through the process of replacing your unit. A good company will properly size your unit and safely install the new system.

Not sure if your AC is “too” old? Here are 3 signs you need to put down your air conditioner.

Need help from a Phoenix, Arizona tech?

Need help fixing an air conditioner that runs constantly and still can’t keep you comfortable? Contact the professionals at George Brazil today. We’ll take a look at your system, diagnose the problem, and get it fixed in no time!

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