As air conditioning experts, one question we seem to get asked a lot is “How long should the air conditioner run to cool the house?”. Unfortunately, this is the one question that, despite our extensive knowledge of all things AC related, we cannot answer with any accuracy. This is because it depends on a multitude of factors, such as:
- the exterior temperature;
- the initial interior temperature;
- how well insulated the house is;
- the size of your AC;
- the square footage of your home etc.
All these will affect how fast the temperature should drop in the house. So, as you can see, to be able to tell you accurately how long your AC should run on a hot day would require a detailed inspection of both your home and ac system.
However, if you suspect that your air conditioner takes a long time to cool, and especially if it seems to take longer than it used to, it may have developed a fault. Here are four common issues that could have your ac working overtime to try and cool your home.
Higher than the normal outside temperature
Air conditioners are made to cope with what is known as “design temperatures”. Calculated by engineers at ASHRAE, design temperatures are the maximum and minimum outdoor temperatures that your region experiences for 99% of the year.
If the outside temperature is above the maximum design temperature for your unit, it will struggle to cope. This does not mean your air conditioner is broken, just that it cannot manage the workload. The best thing to do in these circumstances is to raise the thermostat setting by a couple of degrees. You can also take alternative measures, such as shutting the drapes to block the sun, to keep your interior space cool.
If the outside temperature is within the normal range for the time of year but your AC is still struggling, it could be due to one of the following issues.
Low refrigerant levels
Refrigerant is the lifeblood of air conditioning systems. It doesn’t get used up so the levels should stay the same for the lifetime of your unit. However, if you spring a leak, the levels will drop and your system will struggle to cool your home and eventually crash. You can read more about how to spot a refrigerant leak, and what to do about it, here.
Dirty Air Filters
Air is drawn into your system through the filters, cooled and circulated around your home. If these filters get clogged it restricts the amount of air getting into your system. This means the system will not be able to operate properly. The first symptom of clogged filters will be the ac working overtime to reach the required thermostat setting. But if you don’t clean or replace your dirty filters promptly, much more serious problems can occur, such as frozen coils.
Your Ductwork is Leaky
If you have central ac, the cool air is distributed around your home through ducts, channels in the walls. If these start to leak, the cool air ends up between the walls and in crawl spaces, not where you want it, in your living space.
So, if you think your AC unit is taking too long to cool your home, contact us at Chills Air Conditioning and we’ll send an expert to run some tests, diagnose the problem if there is one, and fix it. Don’t delay, after all it’s not just your comfort that is being affected by an overworked AC, but also your wallet!