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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

The AC Cooling Cycle: How Long Should It Last?

AC-plastic-grateA problem our technicians often address in air conditioning systems is short-cycling. This is when an air conditioner becomes trapped in the start-up cycle so it doesn’t complete a regular cycle. The thermostat activates the compressor to begin cooling down the house, but for some reason, the compressor shuts down early. Soon after, the compressor starts again, only to shut down early once more… and the process repeats.

Most of the time, short-cycling requires professional air conditioning repair in Alachua, FL to fix. No matter what, don’t allow your AC to continue this stop-and-start routine. It increases wear on the system and endangers the compressor. You might end up with a dead AC years before its time. And you will certainly have higher electrical bills because the start-up cycle uses the most amount of power of any part of an AC’s operation.

But to understand when an AC is short-cycling, you have to understand how long a “regular” cooling cycle lasts. Let’s get into the details …

Standard Cooling Cycles

How long should the compressor run during an air conditioning system’s cooling cycle? As long as necessary to keep the house cool. Florida summer heat is often intense, and with the addition of high humidity, the compressor for a home’s air conditioner may need to run for hours at a time to maintain steady, even comfort. This placed stress on the air conditioner as well as utility bills, but it’s still better than short-cycling. To conserve power and give the AC a break, set the thermostat at the highest temperature you find comfortable. We recommend aiming for 78°F. But even at this high setting, a 100°F day will force long cooling cycles on an air conditioner.

In milder weather, when the air conditioner has less trouble meeting the temperature setting, the compressor will periodically cycle down, although the fans will often remain running. At its shortest, a cooling cycle will last for 15 minutes. This is how much time the compressor and air handler need, at minimum, to distribute cooling around the house. When the compressor runs in shorter cycles, especially under 10 minutes, then it’s short-cycling and needs attention.

Call for Professional AC Repair

When your AC short cycles, check to see if the air filter is clogged and needs to be replaced. Putting in a fresh filter may solve the problem. If it doesn’t, call our experts for a quick response time. They’ll diagnose the problem and offer a solution. The issue could be electrical malfunctions, leaking refrigerant, frozen coils, or even an AC that’s overpowered.

And, yes, cycles can run too long. If the air conditioner won’t shut down when temperatures cool off or you change thermostat settings, you also need to call us for repairs.

We take pride in customer satisfaction and quality service at fair prices. We back up our work with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. These and other reasons have kept us in business for over twenty years.

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