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What Should I Do If My AC System Is Short Cycling?

What Should I Do If My AC System Is Short Cycling?

April 17th, 2023


Short-cycling is a common problem for air conditioning systems and heat pumps. An AC is said to be short-cycling if it is turning on and off rapidly, never fully completing a standard cooling cycle. This is damaging to an air conditioning system because of all the extra strain put on its components. It also drains larger amounts of power, leading to skyrocketing electric bills.

How to Tell Your AC Is Short-Cycling

Under normal circumstances, an air conditioner will go through cycles of around 15 minutes or longer, followed by a period when the compressor cycles down. (The fan will often continue to run after the compressor shuts off.) An AC will go through three or four cycles per hour during hot weather. If an AC starts to cycle more than five times an hour, staying on for less than 10 minutes at a time, it’s short-cycling.

Can You Do Anything About Short-Cycling?

It depends on the cause of the short-cycling. Unfortunately, there are many different reasons an air conditioner can short-cycle, and figuring out what’s causing the problem is difficult. In many cases you’ll need to call our technicians for air conditioning repair in Roswell, GA.

There are a few steps you can take when you notice short cycling that might be able to correct the problem:

  • Replace a dirty air filter: Leaving the air filter for an HVAC system in place for many months will cause it to become clogged with dust, lint, dander, and other debris. A clogged air filter will block airflow into the air conditioner, severely limiting how much air the unit can cool and leading to the system shutting down prematurely. Replacing the filter may be all you need to do to get rid of short-cycling.
  • Check the thermostat: Sometimes mistakes with setting the thermostat can account for rapid AC cycling. The thermostat itself might be malfunctioning, reading incorrect temperatures, and causing the air conditioner to keep shutting down early. If you can’t fix the short-cycling by reprogramming the thermostat, you will need technicians to handle any repairs to it. 
  • Clean and clear the outdoor condenser: The condenser unit releases the heat the air conditioner draws from inside the home. It can’t do this effectively if the unit is obstructed or overly dirty, and this will cause the AC to overheat and start short-cycling. Use a hose on low pressure to clean off the cabinet and clear debris, rocks, branches, etc. for a foot on all sides of the cabinet.
  • Open and unblock room vents: Check around your house to see if any of the air vents in the rooms are shut or obstructed. Blocked vents will increase pressure in the HVAC system and lead to short-cycling.

Short-Cycling Problems That Need the Pros

If you’ve tried these troubleshooting steps but still have a short-cycling AC, it’s time to call us to inspect and repair the unit. Here are several possible issues we may need to remedy:

  • Refrigerant leaks
  • Miscalibrated or faulty thermostat
  • Broken zone control system
  • Faulty AC control board
  • Faulty motors or capacitors
  • Undersized air conditioner

We’ll see that your proper cooling is restored.

Dayco Systems has been Metro Atlanta’s choice for more than three generations. Call us when you need air conditioning repairs.