Short-cycling is one of the big bad air conditioning problems that we hope you don’t have to deal with. It’s not entirely common, and sometimes it can easily be fixed, but that isn’t always the case. Either way, it’s going to prevent you from being able to enjoy an effective and efficient air conditioner. We’ll explain below.
What Is It?
First thing’s first, what exactly is short-cycling?
In order to cool your home, your air conditioner will turn on and blow cold air into your rooms. It does this for about 15 minutes before shutting off. This is one “cycle.” Each cycle is meant to cool your home thoroughly using just the minimum amount of energy. When your home gets warm again, another cycle will be triggered. A well-designed and installed air conditioner will go through the minimum amount of cycles while maintaining your comfort.
Short-cycling, then, is when cycles occur too frequently. The cycle begins blows some cold air, stops, and then starts over again.
So What’s the Problem?
Short-cycling will gradually take a toll on your system and your energy usage. As soon as you notice it happening, you need to get it checked out.
It’s Inefficient: Your home will never get cooled properly. The AC will always chase the temperature on the thermostat without being able to keep it for more than a few minutes. You’ll end up seeing these extra costs on your next energy bill.
It Can Harm the AC: Starting up the AC is the most labor and power intensive process of all the AC’s functions. This will wear out the capacitors and fan motors far faster than intended.
Why Is This Happening?
There are a few different reasons for short-cycling. Some can be helped better than others.
Dirty Air Filter: If the air filter is clogged, it can prevent proper airflow and create short-cycling symptoms. Replace the air filter and monitor your system to see if the problems go away.
Frozen Evaporator Coil: The evaporator coil’s job is to remove heat from the home. If a frozen coil makes this impossible, it can cause short-cycling. Frozen coils can be caused by something as simple as a clogged filter, or it could be as bad as a refrigerant leak.
Oversized Air Conditioner: Perhaps the worst case scenario, this means that your air conditioner was installed wrong in the first place. Your HVAC technician installed a machine that was too powerful, therefore cooling the home too quickly. The only solution is to have it replaced.
What Do I Do?
We recommend calling in a professional. Why? Because there are too many factors at play. We wouldn’t want you to go shopping for a new air conditioner when it could have been repaired, nor would we want you to spend money getting maintenance and repairs if you should have just replaced all along.