Should My Air Conditioner Run All the Time?


Long story short: no.

Your air conditioner should not run all the time (and if your air conditioner is running without cooling your home, that’s another problem)


It depends on what you mean when you say ‘all the time’. Sometimes it’s normal for an AC to operate more frequently.

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Let’s break it down.

Your Air Conditioner Should Run More than Normal When…

It’s hotter outside. The warmer the temperature is outside, the longer your AC will run to get your home to your desired temperature.

Longer runs times are good in these conditions: it means your air conditioner is working the way it should.

But even then, you should still be able to hear your air conditioner turn off and on as needed.

When You Should Be Concerned

There are a few indicators that all is not well in your air conditioner.

If you’re noticing these problems (particularly the first one), it’s time to look for a problem.

What’s Causing My Air Conditioner to Run All the Time?

Several things can cause your air conditioner to run all the time.

1. Air Flow is Blocked

Your air conditioner needs to be able to breathe.

If air flow to or from your air conditioner is blocked, your air conditioner is going to struggle to work. That means it’s going to keep running.

Things that can restrict air flow to your AC include:

  • A dirty, clogged air filter
  • A bad motor
  • Ductwork leaks
  • Closed or blocked vents

You can test this theory by holding your hand up to an open vent. You’ll feel a cool but weak stream of air.

The first thing you should do is turn off your AC and change the air filter (located in your furnace). Then make sure all vents are clear of blockages.

If you’re still not noticing a difference, it’s time to call us.

2. Dirty Evaporator Coils

Refrigerant runs through the evaporator coils and absorbs the heat from the air in your home. When the evaporator coils are clean, this is a piece of cake.

But the more dirt and grime builds up on the evaporator coils, the harder it is for the refrigerant to absorb heat. All those layers create a barrier, and your AC just keeps running. Yet you don’t get any cooler.

In fact, your system will do the opposite of it’s intended purpose, with your air conditioner blowing out warm air instead of cold air.

This is something that is included in our annual tune ups, and should be left to the pros.

3. There’s a Refrigerant Leak

When you don’t have enough refrigerant, your AC runs all the time trying to make up the difference.

Refrigerant is never supposed to run out or need topping up. The only time it’s necessary? When there’s a leak.

You’ll know you have a leak if there’s icy buildup on your AC, your home isn’t getting any cooler, or your AC hisses at you.

If you do have a leak, get it fixed as soon as possible.

4. Your AC is Old and Needs to Be Replaced

An AC is not something that’s going to grow old with you. So how long exactly do air conditioners last? Most air conditioners that receive annual maintenance last approximately 15 years. After that, it’s time to upgrade.

As it ages, your air conditioner will naturally have to work a little harder to give you the same results. But an AC that runs all the time, is over 10 years old, and needs regular repairs is just costing you money.

We recommend you talk to our home comfort specialist about getting a new air conditioner.

5. Your Air Conditioner is the Wrong Size

This one is a bitter pill to swallow, because there’s only one way to fix it.

An air conditioner that is too small for your home will have to run constantly to keep it cool. This means more wear and tear on your AC. More wear and tear = more repairs and a shorter lifespan.

We’ve seen it countless times. Instead of getting a professional at-home consultation, homeowners are just given the same size air conditioner they had before in the latest model. But air conditioners are getting more efficient every year: what worked for you 10 years ago is not going to work for you today.

Unfortunately, the only way to permanently solve this problem is to get a properly-sized air conditioner, which costs a lot more money.

If you’re due for an air conditioner, choosing the right installation company is the first step to avoiding this problem.

Call the Dr. – It’s Time for a Tune Up

The best way to make sure your air conditioner is working as it should? Make a Dr.’s appointment.

Our air conditioner tune ups are thorough: we’ll go over more than 20 points of inspection to make sure that your air conditioner is in tip-top shape. And if you sign up for our platinum maintenance package, you’ll actually save money on the tune up costs!

Keep your AC running when it should by booking your appointment with us today.


Save up to $7,100 with the Greener Homes Grant and exclusive Dr HVAC rebates on heat pump systems!