5 Problems That Can Cause Short Cycling Issues In Your Air Conditioner

Posted on: 15 August 2016


If you've noticed your air conditioning system turns on and off constantly, then you may be dealing with a short cycling problem. Short cycling is a common HVAC system issue that not only adds excessive wear and tear on your system, but it can also rob it of its energy efficiency. There are many issues that can cause short cycling. The following takes a look at the 5 most common air conditioning problems that can lead to short cycling if left unaddressed.

Dirty, Unchanged Air Filter

It's amazing how something as seemingly minor as a dirty air filter can cause major problems if left up to its own devices. An air filter that's clogged up with dust and debris can block air from flowing through the return air intake and into the A/C system. This causes your unit to work overtime in an effort to overcome the clog, making it use more energy and generate more heat in the process.

Too much effort can make the A/C system overheat and shut down automatically. Chronic overheating can cause the A/C system to be trapped in a short cycling loop until the source of the overheating issue (in this case, the dirty air filter) is taken care of.

Oversized A/C Equipment

A properly sized A/C unit gradually lowers indoor temperatures within a 10-minute span and then shuts down for approximately 10 minutes before being called back into service. This is the norm for most A/C systems. A/C compressors tend to be more efficient the longer they run, and constant starting and stopping can add unnecessary wear and tear to the compressor and other components.

An oversized A/C system may spend less than 5 minutes lowering temperatures before your home's cooling needs are satisfied. However, this means the compressor has to cycle on and off in shorter intervals. Shorter run times can starve the compressor of lubricating oil, leading up to eventual compressor failure.

Low Refrigerant Levels

Refrigerant losses caused by a leak or an improper charge by a service technician can eventually lead to short cycling issues. A low refrigerant charge can trigger the A/C unit's low pressure switch, causing the compressor to prematurely shut down in an effort to preserve itself. The compressor may attempt to restart after a few minutes have passed, only to shut down minutes later once the low pressure switch is triggered again.

Frost Buildup on the Evaporator Coil

It's not unusual to see a light dusting of frost on the outdoor portion of your central A/C system. However, a large buildup of frost on the outdoor cabinet can prevent air from flowing through the condenser coil. This, in turn, prevents the condenser coil from releasing latent heat from the coil to the outdoor air. As a result, the A/C unit overheats and shuts down, allowing some of the accumulated frost to melt and the A/C system to start back up minutes later.

Bad Thermostat Placement

Your thermostat's location can also play a role in your A/C system's short cycling issues. If the thermostat is placed too close to an area where cold drafts are common, the thermostat may end up reading the drafty air by accident. This causes the thermostat to be tricked into thinking your home's cooling demands are satisfied, resulting in a premature shutdown of your A/C system. Moments later, your thermostat may sense warmer air, causing the system to start up again.

If you think your A/C system has a short cycling problem, it's a good idea to have a trained service technician take a professional look at the issue as soon as possible. For more information, check out websites like http://calldoctorfixit.com.