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Why Is My AC Short Cycling?

In the scorching heat of summer, your air conditioner becomes a lifeline, ensuring that your indoor haven remains cool and comfortable. However, the peace and tranquility provided by your AC can be disrupted when it starts short cycling. If you find yourself wondering, "Why is my AC short cycling?" you're not alone. This common issue can be both frustrating and perplexing.

In this blog, we'll delve into the world of AC short cycling, unraveling the reasons why it happens and exploring potential solutions.

Need help with your AC? Call Advantage Air Mechanical for trusted AC maintenance and repairs.

Ensure your comfort and peace of mind by scheduling an AC repair or tune-up with our highly-trained technicians. Unlike other HVAC contractors, we don’t pay our techs on commission, which means you’ll never have to worry about upselling on replacement parts or repairs. Our recommendations– including our prices – are always honest and in your best interest only. Call us at (520) 792-9400 or click below to request service online today.

What AC Short Cycling Is

Before we dive into the reasons behind short cycling, let's establish what it actually is. AC short cycling refers to the abrupt and premature shutdown of your air conditioner's cooling cycle. Instead of completing a full cycle, where the system extracts heat from your home and expels it outside, the AC unit turns off prematurely, only to restart shortly afterward.

Unfortunately, AC short cycling can lead to some pretty harmful consequences. First, it puts undue strain on your AC system. This causes your AC to work harder than normal, consuming more energy and decreasing energy efficiency. The frequent cycling also hinders the unit's ability to adequately dehumidify the air, potentially causing discomfort and contributing to mold growth. Furthermore, the wear and tear on components increases, shortening the overall lifespan of the system and leading to more frequent repairs.

Needless to say, if left unaddressed, the issue may escalate into more significant and costly problems. However, with regular maintenance and promptly addressing the root causes, you can mitigate the damaging effects.

What Causes AC Short Cycling?

In the quest to maintain a cool and comfortable home, understanding the reasons behind AC short cycling is crucial. Let’s explore some of the root causes.

Improper Sizing

One of the leading culprits behind short cycling is an improperly sized AC unit. If your system is too large for the space it's cooling, it can quickly reach the desired temperature, causing it to shut off prematurely. This frequent on-off cycling not only hampers efficiency but also puts unnecessary strain on the components.

Refrigerant Issues

Insufficient or excessive refrigerant levels can disrupt the normal functioning of your AC. Low refrigerant levels can lead to the freezing of the evaporator coil, triggering the system to shut down. On the other hand, overcharged refrigerant can cause the pressure to spike, prompting the AC to turn off as a safety measure.

Thermostat Problems

Your thermostat acts as the command center for your HVAC system. If it malfunctions, it may inaccurately gauge the temperature in your home, causing the AC to cycle on and off unnecessarily. Regular thermostat maintenance and calibration can help mitigate this issue. You might also consider upgrading your thermostat for energy savings and HVAC repair alerts.

Clogged Air Filter

A dirty or clogged air filter restricts the airflow, making it harder for the system to cool your home efficiently. When the AC senses this impediment, it might shut down prematurely to prevent damage. Regularly changing or cleaning your air filter is a simple yet effective way to avoid this issue.

To learn more, check out our blog, “How Often Should You Change Your Home's Air Filters?

Faulty Capacitors or Relays

The capacitors and relays in your AC unit play crucial roles in regulating electrical currents. If these components malfunction, they can disrupt the normal cycling of the system. Regular maintenance checks can help identify and address capacitor or relay issues before they lead to short cycling.

Thermal Overload

Overheating due to a malfunctioning motor or other electrical components can trigger a thermal overload switch, causing the AC to shut down. This is a safety mechanism designed to prevent damage to the system. Regular maintenance, including checking and lubricating moving parts, can prevent overheating.

Blocked Condenser Unit

The condenser unit, located outside, releases the heat absorbed from your home. If it's obstructed by debris, vegetation, or other objects, the system may overheat, leading to short cycling. Keep the area around the condenser unit clear to ensure optimal performance.

Leaky Ducts

Leaks in your ductwork can compromise the efficiency of your AC system. When conditioned air escapes through leaks, the thermostat may incorrectly register the temperature, causing the AC to cycle on and off unnecessarily. Professional duct inspection and sealing can address this issue.

Solutions for AC Short Cycling

To address AC short cycling, start by ensuring your unit is properly sized for your space. If it’s the correct size, make sure to regularly check and maintain your thermostat, replacing it if necessary, to guarantee accurate temperature readings. Another crucial maintenance task is keeping the air filter clean or replacing it frequently (especially during monsoon season!) to maintain proper airflow. Additionally, keep the condenser unit outside clear of debris and schedule professional AC maintenance at least once a year. By adopting these measures, you can minimize the occurrence of AC short cycling and ensure optimal performance and longevity of your cooling system.

Call Tucson’s most trusted AC pros for repairs and maintenance.

Don't let AC short cycling compromise your indoor comfort or escalate into costly fixes. Call Advantage Air Mechanical at (520) 792-9400 and experience the reliability that comes with 30+ years of expertise. Your home deserves the best – schedule your AC repair or tune-up service now and enjoy fast response times, transparent prices, and honest recommendations.