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Short Cycling FAQ: What’s My AC Doing?

You might be reading this blog post after anxiously waking up during the night while your AC turns on and off rapidly. Or, perhaps you just got home from work and you’re a bit perplexed by the state of your home comfort with a short cycling AC.

Whether this is your first time hearing about an AC short cycling in Gainesville, FL, or if you’re a veteran who has dealt with this problem before, we’d like to welcome you to our blog! Our main goal is to inform our customers so they have the tools and know-how to both call for a professional and ease stress. The faster we can get you back to relaxing, the more likely it will be that you’ll make smart, level-headed decisions like calling for professional repairs. Because this problem likely requires professional support, depending on the cause of it.

What Is Short Cycling?

Let’s start with the basics. What is short cycling, and how do you know if your air conditioner is doing it?

Short cycling is a simple term we use in the HVAC industry to describe any air conditioner that is running in short, frequent bursts. A normal cycle can be anywhere from 10–15 minutes as the system runs diligently to cool your entire home off to the specifications set on the thermostat. If the cycle lasts a much shorter amount of time, like 5 minutes or even 8 minutes, then you’ve got a problem on your hand.

Short cycling might not sound like that bad of a problem on the surface, but it’s more insidious when you start to dig into the facts. Short cycling requires more energy and stresses the system, because the start-up of an air conditioner is the most energy-intensive and stressful part of the whole cooling process. By doing this more on a regular basis, the system is going to wear itself out faster than a normal AC would.

The Causes of Short Cycling

Here’s where we’ve got good news and bad news. We’ll go over the different causes of short cycling, some of them are much better than others.

  • Clogged air filter. This one is easy, and we’d count you lucky if this was the source of your problem. Why don’t you go and change the air filter right now? (Yes, homeowners are encouraged to do this on their own) This can sometimes alleviate the short cycling problem since the system has an abundant amount of fresh air and won’t overheat so quickly.
  • Refrigerant leak. A refrigerant leak can cause the system to run in more shorter and more frequent cycles. The problem can exacerbate over time as more refrigerant leaks as well. This needs to be fixed and the refrigerant recharged by a professional technician.
  • Frozen coils. Frozen coils can really make things incredibly inefficient and hinder your home comfort. They’re also one of the leading causes of short cycling, which are also caused by other problems.
  • An AC that’s too large. If your AC is short cycling because it was either sized improperly for your home, or you decided to upgrade to a larger unit thinking it would be more efficient, then you’ve got a big problem on your hands. An AC that’s too large will get worn down quicker as half of the components run more frequently and garner more stress than the other half.

For expert AC repair, inspection, or replacement, contact North Central Florida Air Conditioning. Improving Lives by Improving Homes!

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