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One of the Most Common AC Troubles: Short Cycling

As summer truly gets underway and you start to frequently use your air conditioning system for the heat, it’s a good time to address some of the more frequent problems that ACs can run into. In this post, we’re going to address one of the more common: short-cycling. Sometimes this is a minor issue you can correct with troubleshooting. But often it means you need to call on our experts for air conditioning repair in Rochester, NY from our dedicated and highly trained HVAC professionals. 

The Basics: What Is Short-Cycling?

A refrigerant-based air conditioning system, the type which you almost certainly have cooling your house, runs on cycles to avoid overstraining components and to prevent overcooling a space to uncomfortable temperatures. The cycle consists of the blower fan turning on, the compressor kicking on, a run time that will distribute enough cooled air to the rooms to reach the setting on the thermostat, and then the compressor shutting off followed later by the fan. Most cooling cycles will last from 15–20 minutes if the AC is the right size for the house. 

Short-cycling describes when, for some reason, the AC cuts the cycle short before. Most short-cycles are less than 10 minutes long and may even be shorter. Not only is the cycle abbreviated, but so is the time between cycles: an air conditioner will start and stop repeatedly over an hour. An air conditioner running normally will have 2–3 cycles in an hour. A short-cycling air conditioner may run through 8 cycles. This is the easiest way to tell you’ve got a short-cycling air conditioner—it’s rapidly turning on and off in a way it usually doesn’t.

Why Short-Cycling Is a Problem

Short-cycling is a symptom of other issues with an AC, which we’ll discuss in a moment. But it’s a problem all on its own:

  • It places an enormous amount of strain on the air conditioner because it forces it to do double the workload by turning on and off so many times. This often leads to repair issues and a need for an early replacement.
  • That extra work also means paying much to run the AC, especially because compressor start up uses more power than any part of an AC’s cycle.
  • The air conditioner will not run for long enough to evenly distribute cooling throughout the house, leading to hot spots.

The Causes of Short-Cycling

Several malfunctions can make an AC short-cycle. Here are the most common:

  • The air filter is dirty and needs to be changed. You can fix this problem on your own.
  • The AC is oversized for the house because of a poor installation. The only solution to is to have professional put in a new air conditioner and correctly size it.
  • The ductwork of the ventilation system has leaks that are causing loss of air.
  • Electrical problems are forcing the compressor to shut down prematurely.
  • The thermostat is faulty and sending incorrect signals to the control board or is misreading the temperature.
  • The refrigerant charge of the AC is low due to refrigerant line leaks.
  • The air conditioning system is coming to the end of its service life and needs to be replaced.

In most situations, you’ll need to have our technicians give you an air conditioning system an inspection to pinpoint the cause of short-cycling. You can trust that we’ll diagnose the problem accurately and find the right solution. 

Triple O Heating, Cooling, Electrical & Plumbing Is Your One-stop Shop for HVAC, Plumbing and Electrical. Contact us for all your home cooling needs. 

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