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Why Is My Air Conditioner Running Continuously? A Phoenix Tech Answers

July 12, 2019

If it's hot out and your AC is reaching the temperature you’ve set on your thermostat, there’s probably nothing wrong with your system.

Most likely, your AC is running continuously to meet cooling demand. In fact, it’s better for your AC to run for longer periods of time than to frequently shut on and off.

However, if you’ve noticed that:

  • Your AC never shuts off
  • Your cooling bills are higher than last year

...You could be experiencing one of the following issues:

  • Your AC is too small for your home
  • Refrigerant levels are low
  • There’s reduced/restricted airflow to your AC system
  • You could have leaks in the ductwork
  • Refrigerant metering device restricted
  • The compressor has failed and is internally bypassing

Below, we’ll walk through the most common issues listed above to help you troubleshoot why your AC is running continuously.

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Issue #1: Your AC is too small for your home

If you’ve recently installed a new AC system, this could be the reason your AC is running continuously.

Before installing an AC system, a technician should have determined what size AC was right for your home with an evaluation called a “load calculation.”

If your tech didn't run a load calculation, chances are your AC is too small.

If you had an AC unit installed that is too small for your home, it will try to meet demand, running continuously but never fully cooling your home. This can result in long-term issues like:

  • Increased monthly bills
  • Shortened lifespan of AC
  • Expensive repairs/replacements

The solution: Contact the company or contractor who installed your AC unit. Did they perform a load calculation before installing your AC unit? If not, you should have a technician perform a load calculation to determine what size AC is right for your home.

Issue #2: Refrigerant levels are low

If your AC is running continuously but the air coming out isn’t cool, you could have low refrigerant levels.

Your AC system actually cools your home by sucking the heat out of your home’s air (via refrigerant lines) and blowing that heatless air back into your home.

If there is a leak in your refrigerant lines, refrigerant levels will be low and your AC system will be unable to strip your home’s air of heat. This will result in warm air being blown into your home instead of cool air.

The solution:Contact a professional to check out your AC system and repair the refrigerant leak if necessary.

Issue #3: Reduced / Restricted airflow to your AC

The amount of cool air your AC pushes OUT is directly related to the amount of warm air it breathes IN.

If airflow to your AC system is reduced or restricted, your AC will work continuously to try and produce enough conditioned air to cool your home.

The solution: Before calling a professional, there are a few steps you can take to make sure your AC system has the proper airflow.

  1. Check vents to ensure both supply and return vents are opened and unblocked (furniture, drapes, etc.).
  2. Check your air filter. If your air filter is dirty, replace it. A dirty filter can reduce the flow of air to your system, making it harder for your AC to cool your home.

If neither of these solutions works, it’s time to contact a professional. You could have reduced airflow due to a leak in your air ducts or there could be something wrong with the blower itself (part of the AC that blows cool air back into your home).

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