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Touchstone Heating & Air Inc. Blog

AC Short-Cycling—What Might Cause It

service-tools-air-conditionersYou may not have heard of ­short-cycling, but you may have noticed it in your house. It’s when your air conditioning system turns on and off more often than normal. Your air conditioner’s cooling cycle is the process of it turning on at a request from the thermostat, running until it registers the house has reached the thermostat setting, then shutting down until the thermostat makes a request again. Most AC cycles last for 15 minutes or more, and if you keep the thermostat at the same setting during the day, the cycles should have a steady pattern.

When that pattern becomes the AC turning on and off multiple times over an hour—less than 15 minutes on at a time—then it’s short-cycling.

The Trouble With AC Short-Cycling

There are multiple reasons you don’t want the AC to short-cycle. The first is that it is a waste of energy. An air conditioner consumes the most power when it starts up the compressor, and during short-cycling it will do this far more often than necessary. The second is that short-cycling prevents a house from receiving the cooling it needs because the system shuts down before it’s done. The third is that all the additional stress on the air conditioner’s components will shorten its service life and compound repair needs. When an AC begins to short-cycle, it has to be dealt with.

Why Short-Cycling Happens

Although short-cycling is a problem, it’s often a symptom of another underlying problem:

  • Clogged air filter: A filter left in place for too long can be the source of many troubles, and short-cycling is one of them. The pressure put on the blower fan can cause the AC to begin to shut down early. Please remember to change the filter every one to three months to prevent this.
  • Lost refrigerant: The refrigerant in the AC is supposed to stay at the same level (charge) for the life of the system. If it starts to leak, it will throw off the operation of the system, causing the AC to overheat and shutdown early. Lost refrigerant must be fixed professionally, and it’s an urgent problem because it threatens the whole air conditioner.
  • Malfunctioning thermostat: You may have a thermostat that is incorrectly reading indoor temperatures and sending signals to the AC to shut down early. Technicians can recalibrate the thermostat or make any other repairs to correct this.
  • Frozen evaporator coil: No, ice shouldn’t be on the air conditioner! If the evaporator coil is covered with ice, it will make cooling harder and cause the AC to short-cycle. Don’t try to scrape the ice off yourself. Call for our help.
  • Oversized AC: If you have non-professionals install your air conditioner, it may be too large. It blows out cool air so fast that it incorrectly registers that it’s done and shuts down. The only way to fix this is to put in a new, correctly sized, AC.

In most cases of AC short-cycling, you’ll need to call for air conditioning repair in Starke, FL from experienced professionals. We are here to help—we’ll find out what’s wrong and have it corrected.

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