The constant cycling on and off of an air conditioner compressor can become alarming if you think it’s happening too often, and if you think it's running for too long or too short a time. Air conditioning that runs for very short amounts of time is likely too powerful for the space it’s in, cooling everything very quickly. This sounds like an advantage, but it doesn’t give the dehumidifying aspect of the air conditioning a chance to work, making the room feel damp. Measuring how long your air conditioner is running is almost like timing anything else; you just have to repeat it a few times.
Things You'll Need
Set the air conditioner’s thermostat to more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit below the forecast outdoor temperature.
Place the thermometer outside if it is not already there. If you have a thermometer indoors that’s wired to show indoor and outdoor temperatures, ensure it is on.
Set the stopwatch to zero and confirm you know how to start it. In some cases, you have to press down on a top button, but other models may be different. Wait for the air conditioning to turn on.
Start the stopwatch right as the air conditioning turns on. If you are using an analog stopwatch for which a full circle of the hand equals one minute, watch carefully and count how many minutes pass with the air conditioning turned on. Prepare to stop the watch.
Stop the watch immediately when the air conditioning turns off and write down the time.
Check the outside temperature reading, and write that down along with the date and time.
Repeat this a few times throughout the day. Repeat the next day if the temperature is supposed to change. Air conditioners typically cool a room by 20 degrees Fahrenheit when compared to the outside temperature unless you set the thermostat for a warmer temperature. Recording the time and temperature at different points in the day shows you if the air conditioner is actually cooling things down as much as it should.
Tips & Warnings
- Tim Carter of Ask the Builder writes that a properly working air conditioner should run for 10 to 15 minutes, so if yours is running a for a different length of time, get the air conditioning serviced.
- If the air conditioning is running for a longer time, the unit could be too small for the space and would have trouble cooling it effectively.
- The EPA notes air conditioners don’t reach their greatest level of efficiency if they run for only a few minutes. They must run for at least nine minutes to reach their most efficient state.
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
- Should a Heat Pump Keep Your House Warm in 20 Degree Weather?
The Average Cost for Home Air Conditioning
According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2009 the average American household kept the thermostat set for 72 degrees in the summertime....
How to Compare the Prices of Home Air Conditioners
Air conditioners can be a significant financial investment in the home. The initial cost of the air conditioner is the first issue...
How to Use a Timer With an Air Conditioner
How to Use a Timer With an Air Conditioner. Setting up a timer for an air conditioner is a cost efficient move....
How to Tell What Size AC Unit You Need
Whether you are looking for an air conditioner (AC unit) that fits in the wall, a window or a portable unit, you...
How to Select the Best Air Conditioner Temperature Settings
Heating and cooling account for more than half of all energy used in the average home, according to the U.S. Department of...
Can You Run an Air Conditioner on a Battery?
A portable air conditioner, such as the kind that hangs from a window, is used to cool a room or an outbuilding....
Why Is My Air Conditioner Running All of the Time?
If everything is functioning correctly, the air conditioner in a home should run only occasionally and periodically under the control of a...
The Best Ways to Run an Air Conditioner
In the U.S., the majority of homes have air conditioners -- two-thirds of homes to be exact. Collectively, these homeowners spend $11...
How Long Should Home Air Conditioners Last?
Home air conditioners should last for up to 30 years, though improper installation can reduce the lifespan of a unit. Discover the...