Air conditioners run in cycles, turning off when the desired temperature for cooling is reached, and turning on when the temperature rises again, affecting the comfort level of your home. But when the air conditioner runs continuously, something is amiss with one or more components of your air conditioning unit.

Below we give 6 steps to troubleshoot why your air conditioning is running constantly instead of in cycles.

Step 1: Sizing Issues

When the air conditioner unit is under-sized it has to work 24 / 7 to provide cooling relief to your home. The constant operation causes more wear-and-tear as your air conditioner ages, and in the bargain shortens its service life. Operating endlessly to try and achieve the optimal comfort level for your home it will fail to do so, even though it never stops running. Also, you may find your air conditioning unit breaks down when it shouldn’t, unless it is nearing the end of its lifespan.

An over-sized air conditioning unit cannot capably evaporate too-humid air in your house. The result is too much moisture and mugginess occurs from the ineffective operation of your air conditioning system. It will also consume too much electrical power and jack up your power bills.

The sizing of your ducts can also be a problem. They should be comparable with the size of your air conditioner system. When ducts are the incorrect size, they could have a problem managing the airflow, or delivering cooling air to every part of the house.

If sizing of your air conditioning unit and ductwork is complementary, then the next step is to check your filter.

Step 2: Air Filter

The air filter quickly collects dirt and debris reducing the air conditioner’s ability to output cool air. The outcome is your unit’s air handler will have to labor more to make up for the difference in your air conditioner’s reduced ability to provide cool air. Also, a grimy air filter causes your system to overheat as a result of running harder and incessantly.

To keep airflow free and unrestricted, either clean or install a new air filter. This should happen on a monthly basis, or according to the manufacturer’s recommendation.

Step 3: Coils

The coils must be free from such impediments as grass leavings, pet hair, and mud because they will obstruct airflow. Reduced airflow will weaken the air conditioner’s operation and efficiency, which can cause it to run without stopping.

The cleaning of condenser coils is easy to do to maintain air conditioning efficiency. Just hose them down. But don’t do this until you shut off the electric power beforehand.

Evaporator coils are a different matter since they can’t be easily reached. To explain further, an evaporator coil constantly receives blower airflow, injected with dust and dirt. As a consequence, when air particulate matter lands on coil surfaces and accumulates, necessary heat transfer coming from the air enroute to the refrigerant is compromised. This affects the cooling operation and increases the cost of running the air conditioner. The increased cost happens because the unit has to operate on extended “on” cycles just to agree with thermostat settings.

Why is My A / C Running Constantly, But Does Not Shut Off When Set Temperature is Reached?

Step 4: Thermostat

If your air conditioning keeps running after the temperature is reached, the thermostat may be the reason. It’s possible your home is at the proper temperature; however, the thermostat does not agree with the “felt” temperature. This disconnect between “felt” temperature and thermostat setting could cause your air conditioner to keep chugging along.

A method to find out if the thermostat is faulty is to put a thermometer close by the thermostat. Give it one to two hours, and then take a reading. If the thermometer registers a temperature approximate to the “felt” temperature in the home, the thermostat may be at issue.

Step 5: Air Leaks and Inadequate Insulation

Air leaks and inadequate insulation can also interfere with the air conditioning’s normal on-and-off cycles. Air leaks cause loss of cool air through gaps, and places where insulation has not been installed, such as behind walls or beneath the roof.

Loss of cool air hampers the ability of the air conditioner to achieve the optimal temperature for the comfort level of your home. This in turn forces the air conditioning to run excessively.

Step 6: Maintenance

You’ve heard this before: air conditioning units must have maintenance done to keep them operating optimally. The reasons we have enumerated so far tells you why.

Maintenance on your air conditioner should be done both in the spring and at the beginning of fall. Your unit needs its ductwork, coils, and air filter inspected, and if warranted, cleaned. If your system is not inspected by a professional at these regular intervals, chances are airflow and cycling issues will happen, causing the unit to operate inefficiently. And in some cases, to have the air conditioner running all day.