Skip navigation

Serving Colorado Springs and the surrounding area


24 Hour Emergency Service


The Short-Cycling AC—What It Is and Why You Need It Fixed


When it comes to maintaining a comfortable and efficient home, your air conditioning system plays a pivotal role, especially during those sweltering summer months. However, certain issues can hinder the performance of your AC, with short-cycling being a prime concern. 

We’re a top Colorado Springs HVAC contractor, so we understand the intricacies of HVAC systems. We’re here to shed light on the problem of short-cycling: what it is, why it’s harmful, and why professional intervention is crucial.

What Is Short-Cycling?

Short-cycling refers to a scenario where your air conditioner repeatedly turns on and off in short bursts, rather than completing its full cooling cycle. Under normal circumstances, an AC unit should run for longer periods, usually 15–20 minutes at a stretch, to maintain the desired temperature effectively. When short-cycling occurs, the system doesn’t run long enough to complete this cycle, leading to various performance and efficiency issues.

The Impact of Short-Cycling 

  • Increased Wear and Tear: Each time your AC unit kicks on, it undergoes a startup phase that can be particularly taxing on its components. Frequent starting and stopping increase the strain on these parts, leading to accelerated wear and tear. This not only diminishes the lifespan of the unit but can also lead to unexpected breakdowns and costly repairs.
  • Reduced Efficiency: Short-cycling prevents the AC from operating at its most efficient state. Air conditioners are designed to reach peak efficiency when they run for longer periods. Thus, when a unit short-cycles, it uses more energy starting up and shutting down than it does cooling.
  • Inadequate Humidity Control: Short-cycles hinders how well the AC can remove humidity from the air. The result is a home that feels muggier, which can impact your overall comfort and even contribute to mold growth.

Common Causes of Short-Cycling

Identifying the root cause of short-cycling is essential, as it can often point to more severe issues with your HVAC system. Some common causes include:

  • Incorrect Size of the AC Unit: If your air conditioner is too big for your space, it can cool the area too quickly, shutting off before it has a chance to dehumidify the air or distribute the cool air evenly. This leads to short-cycling and an uncomfortable indoor environment.
  • Refrigerant Leaks: The presence of a refrigerant leak can impair the cooling power of the unit, causing it to turn off prematurely. In addition to causing short-cycling, refrigerant leaks can lead to major component damage if left unchecked.
  • Dirty Air Filters: A clogged or dirty air filter restricts airflow to the evaporator coils, which can cause the unit to overheat and shut off quickly. Regularly replacing or cleaning air filters can prevent this issue and promote more consistent operation.
  • Thermostat Issues: Sometimes, the problem isn’t with the air conditioner itself but with the thermostat. If the thermostat is malfunctioning or poorly positioned, it may misread the actual room temperature, causing the AC to turn on and off erratically.

If you’re experiencing short-cycling or other issues with your AC, don’t hesitate to reach out. Ensuring the longevity and efficiency of your air conditioning system is our top priority. Remember, timely intervention is key to maintaining a healthy, comfortable, and energy-efficient home environment.

Robbins Heating & Air Conditioning serves Colorado Springs and the surrounding area. Contact us for any AC repairs you may need. 

Comments are closed.