How Long Should AC Run Normally? What You Should Know

Staying cool during the summer in Houston, Texas, often means that your AC is on continuously, sometimes 24/7! That’s no surprise seeing that days of 90-plus degrees Fahrenheit are pretty standard throughout the summer in Houston.

But while it’s normal to expect your AC to work harder in the blistering heat, what if you have an AC constantly running?

An AC running all day could be a sign of trouble. The same is true if your air conditioner is running for only 10 minutes or less at a time.

So, how long should AC run when it’s functioning correctly? Keep on reading to learn more about what’s a “normal” AC cycle.

How Long Should AC Run During Normal Conditions?

Under normal conditions, your AC unit should only run for fifteen to twenty minutes. Twenty minutes should be enough time for the indoor temperature to reach your desired setting. The AC cycle refers to the length of time the unit is running to cool the room or the whole house.

At that point, the thermostat will then turn off the AC unit (switch to fan mode). The AC enjoys a period of rest until the temperature rises above your setting. The thermostat will then tell the AC to run again, and the cycle repeats.

What if My AC Won’t Stop Running?

An AC that never seems to turn off doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a busted unit. In the summer, where the temperature is over 80 degrees every single day, the AC runs more often to keep up. It’s all good, and some of the best types of AC systems are designed to run all day long if needed.

But it’s still a bad idea to let your AC unit run 24/7 without rest in between cycles.

For one thing, your electricity bills will go through the roof. Also, while your AC isn’t broken, not yet anyway, overworking it can lead to a malfunction eventually. The parts will wear out quicker if they’re allowed to run on and on without stopping, and you might need repairs or a replacement sooner than you realize.

Why Your AC Long Cycles

There are several reasons why your AC runs longer than the regular fifteen to twenty-minute cycle. Some of the issues below are simple enough to handle on your own. But for the others, it would be best to have our professional crew at Guy’s Air Conditioning and Heating investigate and devise the proper solution.

Thermostat Problems

Did you set the temperature too low? If there’s a massive difference between the outside temperature and the thermostat setting, your AC will take a lot longer to cool the inside air. Adjusting your thermostat by even a couple of degrees higher can reduce your AC’s run time.

It’s also possible that there are issues with the thermostat itself. It may need cleaning, batteries, or repairs/replacement if it’s defective.

Dirty Air Filters

Another issue that you can probably address yourself is a dirty air filter. If dust and debris are clogging the filters, the airflow will be compromised. Your AC has to work harder and longer to reach and maintain the desired temperature.

How often do you need to change the air filter? You should replace or clean your air filters every one to three months, depending on your home’s situation. If you have pets that shed fur or family members with allergies, you might need to change your filters more often.

Your AC Unit Is Too Small

A common problem that results in AC long cycling is that the unit is too small relative to the size of the room or the house (for central AC). An AC unit that’s undersized doesn’t have enough juice to cool the air fast enough. Therefore, it has no choice but to run at full capacity all the time to keep your home at the desired temperature.

That’s why it’s vital to ensure that the AC is appropriately sized before installing a brand new one. If you have an AC that’s too small, our technicians at Guy’s Air Conditioning and Heating can help you find a replacement that’s better suited for your home.

Other AC System Issues

Your AC system might be experiencing problems that are responsible for the long cycling of the unit. It could be that your evaporator coils are dirty, frozen, or damaged. It’s also possible that your system’s ductwork lacks size or needs to be cleaned or patched.

If you have an older unit, you should consider having it checked and serviced. Maybe some tune-up is all it needs to get back into shape. But if it’s nearing the end of its lifespan already, you might be better off with a newer, more efficient model.

What if Your AC Short Cycles?

Now let’s look at the other end of the spectrum. What happens if the AC run time is too short? If your AC is running for only ten minutes or less, that’s also a major concern.

A unit that starts and stops multiple times in an hour can put undue stress on the compressor. Your compressor can quickly wear out if short cycling is allowed to continue unabated. On top of that, you can expect your electricity bills to skyrocket because the startup cycle uses the most power out of your AC’s operations.

Again, having an AC unit that’s sized incorrectly is to blame. This time, if the unit is too big, it will cool your home too fast, resulting in short cycling. Other AC problems that lead to short cycling include electrical and wiring issues, damaged coils, and drain blockages.

Get Your AC on the Right Cycle

How long should AC run normally? The answer is fifteen to twenty minutes. Anything more or less than that means that your AC might have a problem or two.

Want to get your AC back on track?

Our crew at Guy’s Air Conditioning and Heating can check your system and handle what’s causing your AC’s short or long cycling. We can also recommend the appropriate AC size to install if you’re buying a new unit.

Don’t hesitate to call us today for all your AC and heating needs!