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The sound of your air conditioner running should be a good thing, meaning that your home cooling system works properly and that you’ll soon be at a more comfortable temperature. What happens when you suddenly realize that you haven’t heard your air conditioner switch off for quite some time, though? Realizing that your air conditioner won’t stop running can be very concerning. Not only does it make it clear that something isn’t quite right with your system, but it could very quickly translate into an astronomical electric bill at the end of the month.

What should you do if you notice your AC won’t shut off? There are a few steps you can take before you should consider seeking out professional insight. Here’s a look at where you might find the problem.


Check Your Air Filter

A dirty air filter could be the sole culprit for why your air conditioner won’t stop running. The filter not only keeps your air cleaner but helps to protect the internal components from excessive dust accumulation. However, if you don’t change your filter regularly, it can become very blocked up by dust, dander, and other allergens. The more coated the filter is, the harder your AC must work to pull air through it.

Check your filter. If it is very dirty, replace it with a fresh filter that fits your unit. If your AC does not return to regular operation, there may be some other issue at play.


Replace the Batteries in Your Thermostat

It’s also possible that the issue might be the thermostat. Check there next. Try gently removing the thermostat from the wall and replacing its batteries when applicable. A thermostat malfunction caused by lower power may have made your system run continuously. However, there could be other thermostat faults at play, which could send incorrect commands to your system. If your thermostat screen is blank or otherwise indicates a problem, call for a professional’s help.


Your Home Lets Too Much Air Escape

In some cases, the problem does not lie with the hardware itself but your home. Do you have a very drafty home with lots of air leaking out through doors and windowsills? This could cause the temperature to rise continuously as conditioned air escapes to the outdoors. The result is a system that has to run constantly to keep up with these air losses.

A professional can help you assess where these problems exist and provide you with optional solutions. Re-sealing doors and windows every few years is a good practice for any homeowner to follow. It might surprise you to see how much it impacts your energy bills, too.


Your Evaporator Coils Could Be Too Dirty

When was the last time you had a regular AC tune-up and cleaning? If you can’t remember, there may be a problem inside the unit — such as evaporator coils that are so caked with dust they can’t adequately exchange heat with the refrigerant inside. Dirty coils require professional cleaning because it is dangerous to go into the interior unit without the proper training.


Your Unit Might Be “Freezing Up”

When your unit runs continuously, do you notice the formation of frost or even thick ice on the refrigerant lines inside your home? Check your unit for this sign of a serious problem. This usually indicates an issue somewhere in the system, such as a blower fan that isn’t activating or a lack of good circulation through the system. Your system will run and run even when “frozen,” but it won’t put out any cool air — making it a major waste of energy. If you spot these signs, call for help.


Your Unit May Not Be Able to Beat the Heat Anymore

Finally, the weather may have finally caught up with the age of your unit. If your air conditioner is 10 to 15 years old or even older, then it is likely no longer as efficient as it once was. When the heat and humidity rise, its capabilities and old hardware can struggle to keep up and keep you cool. Have your preferred contractor assess the health of your installation and provide suggestions for replacements as needed.


Know How and Where to Call for Help When Your Air Conditioner Won’t Stop Running

When the “do it yourself” remedies don’t restore your air conditioner to regular operation, it’s time to pick up the phone and call for a licensed service provider. The same is true if you recognize that the problem might be internal to your unit, such as frozen refrigerant lines or a unit that is too dirty to operate correctly. In some cases, you’ll need help to select and install a new unit, too. Always know how your unit should operate normally, and don’t delay the process of getting to the bottom of the problem when your air conditioner won’t stop running.