Why Is My Air Conditioner Short Cycling?

Picture this, your air conditioner is running and you are ready for the cooling off process to begin on a hot, summer afternoon. However, shortly after the air conditioner turns off, it suddenly turns off again.  No quicker than it turned off is it suddenly back on again, then off again, and over and over as the cycle continues to repeat.  This is known as short cycling.  But what is short cycling?  And why is it happening to you?  Here is some information about what causes your air conditioner to run in short bursts and what you can to prevent this from occurring. Man writing on paper in front of HVAC unit

What Does “Short Cycling” Mean?

If your AC unit is short cycling, this simply means that the air conditioner starts up and begins to cool the home as it should but then cycles off shortly after turning on.  After turning off for a small period of time, it turns back on again in another attempt to cool the home, only to shut off again after just a few minutes.  This is not a problem you can ignore.  Not only will it not allow your AC unit to cool down the home efficiently, but it’s also a sign of a serious problem that could potentially cause a lot of damage if not fixed.

What Is Causing My AC to Short Cycle?

There are several things to check when your air conditioner begins to short cycle.  The first item on the list it the air filter.  A dirty air filter could be the cause of your AC running in short bursts.  A dirty air filter can block proper airflow, causing the air conditioning unit to overheat as it tries to cool down the home.  Thus, the AC unit will shut off periodically in order to prevent overheating.  Simply changing the air filter could be a quick fix to the short cycling problem.  Another reason your AC unit may be short cycling is due to faulty equipment.  For instance, the thermostat could be registering the temperature incorrectly.  If this is the case, it is recommended that you call a reputable AC repair company to come out and check your unit and make necessary repairs.

What Is the Worst That Could Happen?

At first, short-cycling might not seem like such a big deal. But again, if not dealt with, it has the potential to cause some extreme damage to your unit.  One of the more serious problems that can cause short cycling is a refrigerant leak.  It is important that you have a yearly maintenance checkup to ensure your refrigerant levels aren’t running low.  If the refrigerant has been recently checked but is still running low, that could mean a leak.  Refrigerant is necessary to allow the unit to cool down the air that goes into the home and produces comfortable temperatures.  If a refrigerant leak is not repaired in a timely manner, it could eventually cause the compressor to fail, in which case you are looking at having to completely replace your entire AC unit.  Don’t let your short cycling problem cause you to have to pay for a new unit.  If you suspect a problem, contact Comfort Experts, your reliable AC repair company so that they can address the problem and have your air conditioner working properly once again.