Maybe your air conditioner seems to be cutting on and off too frequently, or maybe it seems like it never turns off at all. Either way, you may find yourself wondering—is this right? How often should my AC run, and how long should it go before it turns off again?
Well, the answer depends on a few factors, including how well insulated your home is, but the most important factor of all is the obvious one—the temperature outside.
If your air conditioner is the right size for you home—and is working properly—it’s designed to run at maximum capacity when the temperature outside is hottest. In other words, on those sweltering 100 degree summer days, your air conditioner should be running almost continuously while holding the temperature inside your home close to the setting on the thermostat.
However, if your air conditioner can’t keep your home at the right temperature or it literally never turns off on those hot days, then it may be either undersized or not working correctly. This could be due to a refrigerant leak, an airflow problem, or some other mechanical issue.
On the other hand, when the weather is milder, your air conditioner should run less of the time. In mild weather, a correctly sized and functioning AC will run in cycles of about fifteen minutes each, approximately two to three times per hour. If your air conditioner runs for less than ten minutes at a time instead, then it’s probably oversized—too big for your home.
That might seem like a good thing—too much AC is better than too little, right?—but it can actually lead to problems. An air conditioner that’s constantly turning on and off will be less efficient and will wear out faster. Also, it won’t dehumidify the air in your home as effectively. And in our muggy Tennessee Valley summers, dehumidifying is especially important!
So, your air conditioner should run for about fifteen minutes at a time on mild days and almost constantly on the hottest days, all while keeping your home nice and cool. If it struggles to keep up or runs for less than ten minutes at a time, it’s a good idea to have it evaluated by a licensed HVAC technician for the sake of both your comfort and your wallet.