Run, Run, Run? Possible Repair Issues That May Be Forcing Your AC To Cycle Incorrectly
In order to perform efficiently, an air conditioning system must be able to cycle on or off at the right time. A system that runs for too long or repeatedly cycles on and off too quickly will waste energy, create unnecessary wear on parts and components, and fail to maintain the desired temperature inside the home. While excessively hot temperatures can force your air conditioning system to run longer and cycle more often than it normally would, homeowners who notice constant running or too-frequent cycling during normal summer weather are likely seeing evidence of one of the following repair issues.
Refrigerant levels are low
Just as the air conditioning system on your car may require refrigerant levels to be topped off after a few years of ownership, the same applies to the home air conditioning system. In addition to running constantly, home AC systems that have insufficient levels of refrigerant are likely to be found to blow warm air instead of cold or build up a layer of ice on the outside unit or the surface of the refrigerant supply lines.
Homeowners who believe their air conditioning system's refrigerant levels may need replenishing should have a qualified HVAC technician check for and repair leaks and then refill the unit to the manufacturer's recommended refrigerant level.
Another common reason for an air conditioning system to run for too long or cycle erratically is if one or more airflow issues have developed. These issues may include easily rectifiable problems, such as a clogged air filter that was not changed as frequently as it should have been or issues that develop when furnishings or other items have been placed where they block vents and cool air returns.
Homeowners can rule out this type of problem quickly by checking the filter and changing it if needed, as well as checking the vents throughout your home for any that may have become obstructed. Clearing any obstructions, as well as opening any vents that may have been inadvertently closed should restore normal operation. Cycle or run issues that persist after making these changes will need to be referred to a service technician for diagnosis and repair.
Another reason for an air conditioning system to run too much or cycle too frequently is if the ducts have become damaged. Ducts that are crushed or those that come apart at seams can begin leaking so badly that the air conditioning system must run continually as it attempts to cool the home.
Homeowners can check exposed areas of their ducts for this type of damage, but areas concealed by walls, floors, or ceilings may require pressure testing by an HVAC contractor to determine whether leaks exist and their location.
Another time that an air conditioning system might run too long or cycle too frequently is when the exterior compresser unit becomes clogged with dirt or debris. Lawn clippings, pollen, dirt, and debris can quickly build up on the surface of the vents and condenser coils. These surfaces must remain clean in order to allow for the proper collection and transfer of heat from the interior to the exterior of the home. Coatings of dust and debris create a situation where these surfaces cannot transfer heat properly, rendering them ineffective.
Homeowners who find that their exterior components are dirty can attempt to clean them by using a soft brush or portable shop vacuum. If dust and debris are found to be clogging areas inside the cabinet of the exterior component where they cannot be easily reached, hiring an HVAC company like Reading Heating & Air Conditioning Inc to remove the cabinet, clean the interior, and check hoses and wiring for damage is recommended.