No one wants to be dealing with air conditioner issues during the heat of the Utah summer, but unfortunately they’re sometimes unavoidable. ACs that turn on and off in unusual ways are some of the most common culprits here, and one issue in particular is well-known among HVAC specialists everywhere: An air conditioner that simply runs constantly rather than turning on and off periodically.

At Lee’s Heating and Air, we’re here to help with any and all air conditioning repair and maintenance needs you may have in Salt Lake City or nearby areas this summer, including an AC that runs constantly instead of turning off regularly. What are some of the possible culprits in such an issue? Here are several to consider if this is happening in your system.

Why A Constantly-Running AC is a Problem

For those just experiencing this issue for the first time, you may be wondering why an air conditioner that simply runs all the time is actually a problem. After all, isn’t it better for the system to be working than to be turned off?

The answer is no, not necessarily – and there are several reasons for this. First of all, a constantly-running AC unit will end up using significantly more energy than one that turns on and off as needed, leading to higher electric bills. Additionally, this can also put extra wear-and-tear on the system, causing it to break down more quickly than normal. In some cases, a constantly-running AC may even cause your home’s humidity levels to increase rather than decrease, as the system isn’t given a chance to properly remove moisture from the air.

Here are some of the reasons this may happen, plus what can be done about them.

Clogged Filter

Perhaps the single most common cause of an air conditioner that runs constantly is a clogged filter. The filters in your AC unit are responsible for trapping dirt, dust, and other airborne particles, keeping them out of the system itself. Over time, however, these filters can become clogged with debris, which restricts airflow and prevents the system from operating properly.

If you suspect a clogged filter may be to blame for your system’s issues, the first thing you’ll want to do is check and clean the filter(s). Most AC units have one or more filters that can be accessed from the outside; simply remove the old filter (being careful not to damage it), and replace it with a new one. If you’re not sure where your unit’s filters are located, consult your owner’s manual or contact a professional for assistance.

Frozen or Dirty Evaporator Coils

Another potential cause of an AC that runs constantly is frozen evaporator coils. These coils are responsible for absorbing heat from the air inside your home, and they do so by drawing moisture out of that air. This moisture then collects on the coils and eventually drips into a drain pan below, where it’s removed from the system.

If the evaporator coils are frozen, however, they won’t be able to properly absorb heat, which can cause the system to run constantly in an attempt to compensate. In some cases, you may actually be able to see the ice on the coils; if not, you may notice that your AC unit is blowing out warmer than usual air.

Dirty evaporator coils can also cause this issue, as they won’t be able to absorb heat as effectively. If you suspect either of these problems, you’ll need to thaw or clean the coils as soon as possible. This is a task best left to a professional, however, so be sure to contact an HVAC specialist if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself.

Thermostat Issues

In some cases, the issue may not be with the AC unit itself but with the thermostat. If your thermostat is set to “on” rather than “auto,” for example, the AC will run constantly regardless of whether it’s actually needed. This is because the thermostat is telling the system to keep running even when the desired temperature has been reached.

Checking and adjusting your thermostat settings is a relatively simple task that can be easily accomplished by most homeowners. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it yourself or you suspect there may be a more serious problem with the thermostat, it’s best to call in a professional.

Refrigerant Leaks

If your AC unit is leaking refrigerant, that could also be the reason it’s running constantly. Refrigerant is what helps your AC unit cool the air inside your home, and when it’s leaking, the system won’t be able to function properly.

A refrigerant leak is a serious issue that should be addressed by a professional as soon as possible. Attempting to fix it yourself could result in further damage to the system, so be sure to call an HVAC specialist if you suspect this is the problem.

Incorrectly Sized Unit

If your AC unit is too small or too large for your home, that could also be the reason it’s running constantly. An AC unit that’s too small will have to run non-stop in order to cool your home, while an AC unit that’s too large will cool the home too quickly and then shut off before the humidity has been removed from the air.

Either way, this can lead to a less than ideal environment inside your home, as well as higher energy bills. If you think your AC unit may be incorrectly sized, it’s best to call in a professional for an assessment.

For more on some possible reasons why your air conditioner is running constantly this summer, or to learn about any of our air conditioner or other HVAC services in SLC or nearby areas, speak to the pros at Lee’s Heating and Air today.