How Long Should an Air Conditioner Run?

Wondering if your AC is cycling too long?

Each air conditioning cycle should last up to 20 minutes and at most, 3 times per hour. The hotter it is, the more your AC should run.

Read on to learn about the top five different reasons on why your air conditioner runs too frequently.

How Long Should My AC Cycle Last?

Ideally, an air conditioner cycle should only last about 15-20 minutes and up to three times per hour.

However, if the temperature inside your home is a lot higher than the temperature that your thermostat is set at, each cycle may last longer, or the number of times per hour.

Before automatically thinking something is wrong with your air conditioner, be sure to check the temperature inside and compare it to your thermostat. Be sure it’s not a really humid day out, too.

If the temperature is normal and there doesn’t seem to be a major difference between your thermostat and the indoor temperature, then you may want to consider some other reasons as to why your air conditioner runs more than normal.

You can also find out what temperature you should set your thermostat when away.

If you suspect your AC is short cycling, check out our guide to troubleshoot the cause.

5 Reasons Why Your AC is Cycling Longer than Normal

1. Your air conditioner is too small

When you get an air conditioner, it should meet a minimum BTU to efficiently get your home to your desired temperature.

If you purchase an air conditioner that is too small for your home, it’s going to need to run constantly to provide enough cool air, compared to if you had one that was the proper BTU.

If this is the root cause of your constantly running air conditioner, thankfully it’s a quick fix (although costly). You would just need to get a new air conditioning system.

You could use your smaller air conditioner in a smaller room so you’re not just throwing it away. Purchasing the proper air conditioner with the right size can save on your energy bills, too.

The best 15,000 BTU window air conditioners are capable of cooling down spaces of 700-800 square feet.

2. Your AC system or house has air leaks

Any home can have an air leak, which is common around ductwork, doors, and windows.

Even if you have a new home, you should still check to see if it’s the reason why you are losing cold air, causing the air conditioner to run longer cycles.

You may need to fix your insulation, or even use some quick spray foam insulation, depending on where you find the air leak.

Thankfully, if this is the case, it’s an easy fix that you can either do yourself or see if your local HVAC professional can help you with it.

3. AC unit too old

Just like anything else in your home, air conditioners age.

If your air conditioner is around 15-20 years old, a replacement is the most practical solution.

Not only will a new AC provide you with more consistent cold air, but you will save on your electricity bills as they are usually more energy-efficient.

If you are running an old model of an air conditioner, you are probably running it way more than you would have to if you had a newer model, especially on hot days.

The newer models have energy-efficient ratings and are made to shut off and turn back on at specific times.

Older units, depending on how old, don’t have all those settings, potentially causing the air conditioner to run cycles too often.

4. Thermostat setting or malfunction

Your thermostat settings could be set incorrectly or have malfunctioned. The battery may also be dying out, so ensure that your thermostat is working properly.

5. Dirty filter

Air filters that are dirty cause a whole host of issues for air conditioners. It’s one of the things that are often overlooked and neglected.

Putting a reminder on your calendar is critical so you can avoid any potential issues and save energy; when your air filter is dirty, it causes it to consistently room.

Particles, dirt, dust, pet hair, and other small pieces can get trapped in the filter, causing restricted airflow and longer AC cycles.

Check out our guide for best AC filters for allergies if you want cleaner air inside of your home.

When is it Time to Replace My Air Conditioner?

Over time, your air conditioner is going to experience wear and tear, which can wreak havoc on your energy bills and overall cooling ability.

If you have an older air conditioner, it’s worthwhile to purchase a new one. If you realize you purchased the wrong size, you can put it in a smaller room and then purchase a properly sized AC unit.

Your air conditioner should run for only 15-20 minutes for each cycle; if you notice it’s running more consistently, you may want to reach out to an HVAC professional to get it looked at and see if you would benefit from a new unit.

About Heather Burdo

With almost a decade of experience with digital marketing, Heather Burdo has gained diverse experience across a multitude of industries. You can reach her at [email protected]

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