How Often Should My Air Conditioner Run?

How long or how often your home’s air conditioner runs is a common concern for many homeowners wondering if their system is working efficiently, or even if it is the right size for their home. So before you call your favorite air conditioner repair Winnipeg experts at Weather Tech, there are many factors which would determine the ‘run time’ of an A/C unit that we will look at.

Correct Sizing of the System

When an air conditioning system is first installed in any home, the first step would be to size the unit properly to the need of that particular home.  Air conditioning units only come from the factory in a handful of sizes or ‘capacities’. The smallest capacity unit would be a 1.5 ton unit.  A “tonne” of capacity is a term given to represent 12,000 btuh (British thermal units per hour), so the 1.5 ton unit would have 18,000 btuh’s. The sizes go up from there in half tonne increments, therefore the next size would be 24,000 btuh otherwise known as a 2 ton unit.

Other Factors

We need to ascertain the heat load of the structure to determine how many btuh’s are needed to address that heat load.  Heat load is affected by many variables including the amount of insulation the home has, how many square feet of windows there are, how much south exposure those windows have, as well as how many people are living in the home, not to mention things like how many times the kids leave the patio doors open while the A/C is struggling to keep up. 😉

A Properly Running System

On a hot day a properly sized air conditioner can run on average 3 times an hour and for 15 minutes at a time even, give or take.  This longer run time allows the system to not only cool the home, but to remove the humidity at the same time.  If you go to the furnace and look for a drain tube coming from the duct-work directly above the furnace in most cases.  This drain tube is the drain for the condensation coming off of your cold ‘evaporator coil’ which is the inside portion of your air conditioning system.  The evaporator coil is sometimes referred to a an “A” coil because of its shape.  When your hot, humid air runs across and through this A coil, its heat gets absorbed and passed on to the coil.  The humidity from that hot air condenses on that cold coil much like the condensation running off a cold drink on the patio on a hot day.

Too Large Capacity

If your A/C was a larger capacity, it would cool your home faster but not run long enough to remove the proper amount of humidity.  Therefore, it would feel cold and clammy with too much humidity.  On a very hot day, a slightly larger capacity system may be desirable, however, for 90% of the time it would short cycle the unit and make for a very uncomfortable home.

The Final Word…

So, if your A/C runs for the majority of the time to maintain the temperature setting on the thermostat on a sweltering sunny day,  it’s doing its job.

If you still have questions on how your system performs, don’t hesitate to contact us for some professional advice, or expert service to ensure your system is running as efficiently as it can.

Steve De Vries is a “Red Seal” refrigeration technician with over 20 years of experience in the HVAC industry. He has been a certified Lennox Premier technician since 2006. Steve is also a Master gas-fitter licensed by the province of Manitoba. Along with his Red Seal Provincial accreditation he also holds an electrical license. Born and raised in Winnipeg Manitoba, Steve has a very good understanding of a diverse climate and the affects it has on our construction. Well versed in duct design, fabrication, ventilation, and air quality, Steve understands all the variables to take into consideration for our region as well as the science to achieve desired comfort, which is so much more than just temperature.