When it comes to HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, most homeowners would rather leave inspection, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, and replacement up to the pros. That said, you don’t have to be an expert to know when your AC isn’t performing as it should.
Your house might be too warm, too cold, or go through intense temperature shifts throughout the day if your AC unit, your thermostat, or other components are malfunctioning or were improperly installed, among other possible causes. The question is: how long should your air conditioner run when cycling? How often should it go on and off, or should it run continuously? Here are a few things you should know.
How Often Should Air Conditioner Cycle On and Off?
There are a few factors that come into play where your AC cycles are concerned. The outside temperature and the relative airtightness of your home (insulation) will obviously play a role, but more important is the size of your AC unit and the square footage you’re trying to cool.
Naturally, a larger interior space will require more cooling than a smaller home, and this could contribute to your air conditioning kicking on more frequently and/or running for longer periods of time. However, the size of your AC unit is also important. If it’s too small for your home, it will run constantly as it attempts to meet your demand for cool air, and if it’s too large, it will kick on more frequently, but only run for a few minutes at a time.
The former will leave you in a home that probably feels a little too warm at all times, even when the AC is on full blast. The latter will result in short periods of freezing air that quickly dip into warmer temperatures, only to get very cold again.
If your AC unit is properly sized for your home and you’re still experiencing issues with how often the air conditioning is clicking on and off, or how it’s regulating the interior temperature, then deterioration, damage, or simple aging of equipment could be the culprit.
What if My Air Conditioner Runs Continuously?
There is one very simple reason (and other, more complicated explanations) why your AC might run non-stop. It’s possible that you’ve accidentally set the fan to the “on” setting, rather than “auto”. Your system may not be pumping out cold air continuously on the is setting, but the fan will keep blowing, so make sure to check your thermostat first.
Other reasons could include a problem with your AC unit or thermostat, or, as mentioned above, a unit that is too small for your home. If you suspect a problem with the way your air conditioning is cycling, you’ll want to call your trusted HVAC partner for assistance.