Why won't your air conditioner turn off? Your AC system keeps going and going and going. Even though the system makes noise and you can feel air near the vents, the number on the thermostat continues to move the wrong way. Take a look at what you need to know about your air conditioning system, hiring an air conditioning contractor, and the potential culprits behind this cooling problem.

Can An AC System Normally Run Continuously? 

A central air conditioning system takes time to cool a home. Larger homes, homes with air leaks (such as leaky or uninsulated windows), homes with failing/damaged ductwork, and homes with lower efficiency AC systems will take longer to cool. The specific amount of time it takes for your home to go from mid-summer hot to cool and comfortable depends on these factors, the outdoor temperature/humidity level, and the quality of the system.

Even though air leaks and efficiency issues can slow down the cooling process, a forced air central AC system should never run continuously. An air conditioner that won't stop and doesn't reach the desired temperature (the temperature you set the thermostat to) requires immediate attention.

Why Shouldn't An Air Conditioner Run Continuously?

There are a few possible answers to this question. Start with the potential for a problem. If the continuous cooling cycles are the result of a mechanical failure, allowing the AC system to run 24-7 could add to the damage. This extreme wear could push a minor problem into serious trouble territory—potentially costing you unnecessarily in the price of an expensive AC replacement.

Along with excess wear and damage, a system that won't stop requires constant energy and can leave your home unbearably uncomfortable. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, normal AC use accounts for six percent of the electricity the U.S. produces. This costs an annual total sum of $29 billion across American households. The longer your system runs, the more energy it needs—and the more you will need to pay.

What Should You Do About the Air Conditioner That Won't Quit?

The longer you let the problem go, the hotter your home will feel and the more money you'll spend on cooling use-related costs. There are several possible reasons your AC won't stop. These include anything from a clogged air filter to a faulty thermostat. Other common culprits include electrical faults, fan limit switch failure, dirty condenser coils, frozen evaporator coils, low/leaky refrigerant, and installation errors. 

Before you risk further damage to your system, call an air conditioning contractor. An HVAC professional can inspect the system, find the problem, and recommend an AC repair or replacement.