What is Air Short Cycling?

By Ed Matias

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Have you ever noticed your air conditioner cycling on and off in rapid succession? This is probably due to air short cycling. Short cycling occurs when your air conditioner stops its cooling cycle prematurely and then starts back up after a short period of time. This can become a serious issue as it makes your system less efficient and can cause your energy costs to rise. This problem also puts extra strain on your equipment, which can damage components or cause your compressor to burn out, requiring you to replace the entire system.

There are a number of factors that can cause short cycling. If you notice any of these issues it is important to correct them as quickly as possible in order to prevent damage and minimize expenses.

Thermostat Issues

Sometimes the issue is not with your A/C components but your thermostat. If your thermostat is incorrectly reading temperatures or placed in an area that receives direct sunlight or drafts, it can cause the thermostat to tell the A/C compressor to turn on and off at the incorrect times. An HVAC specialist can diagnose this issue and fix the problem by replacing or moving your thermostat.

Clogged or Dirty Air Filter

Your A/C has to work harder when there is not enough air flow through your system. When debris and dirt clogs the air filter, the evaporator coil cannot absorb enough heat and can start to shut down early. Short cycling can occur as a result. One way to avoid this is to clean your air filter at least once a month.

Refrigerant Loss or Leaks

Low refrigerant can make your A/C condenser overheat. This, in turn, can cause your air conditioning to short cycle. Refrigerant leaks cause a range of issues in air conditioning systems, so it is important that you reach out to a repair specialist as soon as you see signs of short cycling so that the technician can diagnose the issue.

Ice Buildup on Evaporator Coils

Issues with airflow and refrigerant can cause ice to build up on the evaporator coil. These iced-over coils can cause your air conditioning unit to cycle on and off rapidly. If you see ice start to build up on your air conditioning unit, an HVAC specialist will be able to diagnose and fix the issue before it leads to bigger problems.

Oversized A/C Unit

Sometimes short cycling can occur because the air conditioner is too large for the home. Larger A/C units cool down smaller spaces much faster, which does not allow for proper dehumidification. This can cause the room to feel damp, prompting temperature fluctuations that can make spaces feel too hot or two cold. Then the air conditioning unit begins to short cycle.

The best way to ensure that your air conditioner remains in good, working condition is to address potential problems as soon as you start to notice any trouble. If you see signs of short cycling, you should call an HVAC expert as soon as possible to check your equipment for issues.