Air conditioners work 24 hours a day, seven days a week during summer months, but it does not mean they should also run 24/7. For ACs, running and working are two different things, because the latter means the air conditioner continuously cycles and uses up a maximum amount of fuel or energy to cool the house.
This blog post discusses the possible reasons why an AC would be non-stop, what it could mean, and how homeowners should deal with it. It is crucial to address such an occurrence given that it causes higher electricity bills.
And while it runs constantly, this may mean that your ac is having trouble cooling the house. Sometimes, it cannot even remove humidity in the air hence the sticky feeling that comes with the lackluster cooling that comes with continuously cycling ACs.
Common causes of constantly running AC
Incorrect AC size and capacity, and improper installation
Experts cannot over-emphasize the importance of installing the correct size of air conditioner and consequently correct installation. If the size of the AC is wrong, then it cannot cool the whole house fully without having to cycle non-stop. Worse, it cannot even meet desired temperature levels because the area is too big for it to cool.
If the unit is too small, it has to work doubly harder to cool the house. So apart from consuming more fuel or electricity than it should, it also wears out the unit. The mechanisms are overworked and are more likely to bog down compared to a correctly-sized AC.
For units that are too big for the cooling area, the result is more humidity in the air. The AC will fail to eliminate moisture in the air. The indoor climate it creates is humid and sticky. Since it is larger than it should be, it will also use excessive fuel or electricity, prompting costlier utility bills.
Apart from the wrong unit size, incorrect duct sizes also have a negative impact on the AC’s cooling capacity. Duct sizes should be relative to the capacity and size of the air conditioner. Using the wrong size of AC ducts could prevent the AC from properly handling the airflow, and delivering cooled air throughout the whole house.
If only air conditioners and ductwork are correctly sized, then more than half of the most common AC problems would not occur at all.
AC Filter issues
Another common issue that prompts the air conditioner to run non-stop is a filter problem. If the AC seems to relentlessly cycle, then one of the first questions a homeowner should ask himself is “when is the last time he replaced the AC filter?”
The AC is the lifeblood of airflow in any air conditioning unit. If it is filthy with dust, dander, debris, and other contaminants, air could not properly flow from it. Without proper airflow, the AC will not work correctly. This could be the reason why your digital thermostat is not reaching it’s set temperature. It will continuously cycle and use up more electricity than it should. Likewise, it will burden the system, causing mechanisms to get overused and break down easily.
Replace AC filters regularly as recommended in the owner’s manual. Most are replaced every three months, but for households that have pets indoors or have household members with pollen and dust allergies, it is recommended to change the filters every six to eight weeks.
Air Conditioner coils are dirty
A possible reason why an AC will run non-stop is when the air conditioner coils are dirty. Sometimes the condenser coils can be so dirty that it has grass clippings, pet hair, or even mud sticking on them. And just like air filters, when coils are filthy, the AC will not work as efficiently as it should.
Since condensers are mounted outdoors, condenser coils tend to get exposed to outdoor elements that could make them dirty. And because it is in the direct line of the blower, the coils tend to catch most of the dust and dirt that the blower circulates. These airborne contaminants can form a layer of filth that could make the coils less efficient than they should be.
When the evaporator coils are no longer efficient, the AC tends to cycle non-stop just to meet the indoor temperature demand of the household.
Fortunately, maintenance for the evaporator coils and condenser units is not rocket science. It just needs the commitment of the homeowner to regularly clean it, and annual professional maintenance. Homeowners can keep their condenser units clean by turning off the electrical power and hosing the unit down with water. This however could not clean the evaporator coils fully hence annual professional HVAC maintenance is crucial in keeping the evaporator coils and the rest of the AC system clean and efficient.
A failing thermostat can also prompt the AC system to run continuously. If there is an existing problem with the thermostat, it is possible that it cannot detect that the AC has already reached the desired temperature setting. If this is the case, then the air conditioner will continue to cycle, and operational costs will surely skyrocket.
One easy way to check if the thermostat is working is by putting a thermometer next to it. Leave the thermometer there for at least two hours, and if the reading registers a temperature that does not much the AC thermostat but is nearer what it feels like indoors, then the AC thermostat is malfunctioning.
If all else fails, seek professional HVAC servicing. Annual maintenance and tune-up involve check-ups and recalibration of the thermostat. A licensed HVAC specialist can determine whether there is an existing thermostat issue and consequently carry out the needed repairs.
If the existing thermostat is aging, then it may be best to upgrade to a Smart or Digital thermostat that is easier to maintain and could pave the way for a more energy-efficient AC.
Air leaks within the house
It is important to seal all gaps and areas where the conditioned air can escape. These same places are also where outdoor heat can seep in. So it is best to check whether the doors and windows are closed and if the caulking is still holding up.
Double-check the insulation as well, because it may have worn out already. Leaking or disconnected ducts could be making so that one area of the home is hotter than the rest of the home. Consider insulating non-insulated areas in your roof and walls as well so that cold air will not escape, and heat will not penetrate.
It is also wise to make use of heavy drapes, curtains, blinds, and other window treatments to keep the sunlight from penetrating home areas that are not as cool as the other areas. Sometimes, when windows are too big, the sunshine and lack of trees and shade could make the indoor environment harder to cool, prompting the AC to work nonstop. By using window treatments, the AC will not have hard time cooling areas that have bigger windows.
Air conditioner lacks maintenance
Air conditioners need regular professional care by a licensed HVAC technician. When it is ill-maintained, existing issues go undetected and unaddressed. Professional maintenance must be carried out at least twice a year. Once during spring, prepare the air conditioner for 24/7 maximum use during summer, and then during fall, to tune up the furnace in time for winter.
Inefficient cycling, or continuously cycling AC is a possible result of under-maintained and dirty filters, condenser coils, air ducts, and mechanisms. A licensed HVAC technician has the correct equipment and knowledge to thoroughly clean the AC system. He also checks for existing problems and addresses them. He likewise foresees possible issues and moves to tune up the system and replace worn-out parts to avoid possible problems. By keeping the AC professionally maintained, it is more likely to last much longer and will surely become more energy efficient.
The unit is aging
Older AC units are less efficient because like all home appliances, air conditioners also suffer from wear and tear. When a part of the mechanism starts to get worn out and is about to break down, the system tends to get overburdened. An overworking AC tends to continue to cycle just to meet the desired temperature indoors. This puts a lot of strain on a system, and will surely put a dent in the household utility budget.
Homeowners should be conscious that mechanisms are highly likely to break down once it reaches their end-of-life stage. At this stage, he should already consider upgrading to a new HVAC unit. This usually occurs when the existing unit is between 12 to 15 years old. If the homeowner is unsure about the age of the AC unit, a professional HVAC inspection can determine its age as well as assess its existing condition.
Keep the AC well maintained
The bottom line of this whole post is that maintenance is key in keeping an AC system working in its optimal condition. Regular professional maintenance can detect possible issues before they could become cooling problems that are expensive to repair.
Non-stop cycling is not just uncomfortable because the AC cannot deliver the desired temperature and eliminate moisture in the air. Non-stop cycling increases cooling bills and strains the air conditioner’s internal systems. When it is overworked, it tends to break down easily, and ages much faster.
So when faced with issues like non-stop cycling of AC units, act immediately. Get in touch with local experts like us at Reliable Standard Heating, Air, & Solar. We have helped countless homes deal with this stressful cooling problem. With us, you can be sure that your home will be cool and comfortable, and that your AC is as efficient as it could be. Reliable Standard Heating and Air got all your cooling issues covered! Call us today.