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Why Does My AC Shut Off Early?

ac-grillWhen your air conditioning system does its job right, you won’t take much notice of it. The sound of the air conditioner whirring as it wafts cool air around the home becomes part of the soundtrack of summer. But you’ll probably notice when something does go wrong, such as when the AC shuts down early, running for only a few minutes. Not only does this disrupt the sounds you expect from it, but it also leads to less comfort around the house.

What causes the AC to do this? We’ll examine this further in this post.


Short-cycling refers to when an AC shuts on and off repeatedly over only a short time. An air conditioner’s standard cooling cycle lasts for 15 minutes or more. When it starts to run for less than this, especially less than 10 minutes, and only a few minutes before it starts again, it’s short-cycling. This will damage the AC because of the excess strain placed on components. It also drains huge amounts of power, since an air conditioner draws on the most electricity at start-up. If you’ve got a short-cycling AC, you want it repaired ASAP.

Faulty thermostat

One potential source of short-cycling is the thermostat. The thermostat determines if the AC has reached its cooling target. If the thermostat is incorrectly reading indoor temperature, it can lead to it shutting the AC down early. A thermostat can malfunction in other ways as well, and all require calling professionals to investigate. 

Clogged air filter

The clogged air filter is Culprit #1 in many AC troubles. In this case, a clogged filter restricts airflow to the point the AC will shut down prematurely. Check on the filter and see if it’s clogged. Put in a new filter if it is—and keep up with filter changes every 1 to 3 months to ward off the problem.

Leaking refrigerant

This is an all-around terrible problem for an air conditioner, and if not professionally addressed it will cause the compressor to fail. As the refrigerant charge in the AC declines, it can lead to the system overheating and shutting down early. 

Dirty condenser coils

The outdoor coil of an air conditioner must have no obstruction for it to release heat to the outside. Dirty and grime along the coil insulates it and makes it harder for it to condense the refrigerant and exhaust heat. This will cause the air conditioner to overheat and lead to short-cycling. 

Oversized air conditioner

If you have a new air conditioner, short-cycling often warns that it received a poor installation from people who didn’t accurately size it for the house. When an AC is too powerful (oversized) for the space it’s meant to cool, it will short cycle. Unfortunately, the only way to solve this problem is by replacing the air conditioner—and having professionals handle the job so the new system is sized correctly.

No matter what help you need when it comes to air conditioning repair in Suwanee, GA, you can depend on us.

At Snellville Heating, Air and Plumbing, Your Comfort Is OUR Business. Call us today to schedule service.

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