On, off, on, off, on, off, on, off… you get the picture. It’s called short-cycling, and it is perhaps one of the most annoying things that could go wrong with your AC. Why? Because not only will it dramatically increase wear and tear on the system, but it’ll also put quite a large hole in your wallet.
Of course, though, you want your AC to work efficiently and effectively all summer long, so it’s important that when your AC starts to short cycle, you address the issue right away. But still, what exactly is short-cycling and why does it happen? Well, keep reading below and you’ll find out!
What is Short Cycling?
Basically, short cycling is a term used to describe when there is something within the system that prevents it from completing a full cooling cycle. To put it simply, when your system is short cycling, you will notice that it turns on and off every few minutes, making it impossible to keep your home nice and cool. Not only does this lead to sky-high energy bills, but it also can leave you with the cost of some pretty hefty repairs.
Why Does it Happen?
There are a number of issues that can lead to short cycling, including:
- A clogged air filter: Your AC’s air conditioner collects dirt and debris as it passes through the ductwork. However, if this filter is not changed on a regular basis, it can become too clogged, which restricts airflow in and out of the system. When hot air becomes trapped in the system, your AC will shut down as a safety measure, and when it cools off it will kick back on only to start the process all over again (short-cycling!). Therefore, we recommend changing out the air filter every 1-3 months during the summer season.
- Frozen evaporator coils: The compressor is a part of the system responsible for pushing refrigerant gas through the air conditioner after it’s been evaporated in the evaporator coil. The compressor also helps keep the rhythm of the AC so that it can consistently move heat out of the home. If the compressor becomes damaged by frozen coils, it can start to malfunction, throwing off the rhythm of your AC.
- The AC is too large: If you’ve had an oversized AC unit installed in your home, chances are that it will begin to short cycle. Since an oversized unit produces too much cooling output, your home will reach it’s desired temperature much before the AC has had a chance to complete a full cooling cycle. The best thing you can do is to replace your oversized AC with a unit appropriately sized for your home.
- Refrigerant leaks: Low refrigerant levels will force your air conditioner to work much harder than normal, which can result in short cycling. Therefore, it is important to be on the lookout for signs of a refrigerant leak. These include low cooling output, liquid around the system, and strange hissing sounds.