AC issues can be troublesome in a number of different ways. We can easily forget how much we depend on our air conditioners while we’re using them, until they break down or cause us stress with their problems. A short-cycling AC is not an exception to this rule!
Short-cycling is a problem that affects any system that runs in cycles. There is a “normal” length of time that your air conditioner is supposed to run, and if it runs longer than that, this is considered a long cycle. Perhaps it’s an extra hot day or you recently lowered the temperature because you have company over.
A short cycle is when your system works for a lot less time than it’s supposed to. This is absolutely a problem, but it’s a bit more complicated than a long cycle and requires a full explanation. Keep reading to learn about how bad short-cycling is for your air conditioner, and what you can do about it.
A Quick Explanation of Short-Cycling
When your air conditioner runs, it runs in a cycle. This is what we call the normal process from when the system turns on to when it shuts down after cooling your home to the temperature setting on the thermostat. From start to finish, one cycle allows your home to remain cool and comfortable.
Then, when the temperature finally rises about 10–15 minutes later, the system will run its cycle again and repeats the process.
Short-cycling is a problem because it only usually involves the most stressful and energy-consuming parts of the air conditioner. Components endure more stress when they cycle more, and your system is living on borrowed time if it’s completing more cycles that last for a shorter amount of time.
This is essentially what a short cycle is, and why it’s so bad. But how does this kind of problem happen? Here’s where things get interesting.
The Causes of Short-Cycling
A short-cycling air conditioner can be caused by a number of different factors. Unfortunately, from where we are, it can be nearly impossible to diagnose your unique air conditioner and it’s short-cycling situation. But here are some of the most common causes of this problem.
- Refrigerant leak. Refrigerant leaks can cause the system to run in shorter cycles than it would otherwise. As the refrigerant leaks, the problem can get worse over time until you eventually encounter a full system breakdown.
- Clogged air filter. The air filter needs to be changed every 1–3 months to ensure maximum efficiency and performance. A clogged filter can lead to short cycling and overheating.
- Ice on the coils. If your system has ice on the coils, that could be causing the unit to shut down before a full cycle is complete due to the temperature dropping too rapidly inside the unit.
- Overheating. An overheating air conditioner will simply shut down early if it reaches a temperature threshold that’s too high. This can be a cause of short-cycling.
- A botched installation. Air conditioners can be incorrectly sized and installed to the point where refrigerant lines are improperly connected, or the unit is too large. These problems can cause short-cycling and usually result in early system replacement.
Here at North Central Florida Air Conditioning, we focus on Improving Lives by Improving Homes! Schedule an appointment with our professionals to have your short-cycling AC fixed or replaced.