When an air conditioner starts up and then quickly shuts down, you are having a short cycling issue. Short cycling is a common problem that often points to an issue within the HVAC system. There are a number of electrically demanding components that can cause short cycling. Hal Mechanical will run through the common reasons why an air conditioner will short cycle and how to troubleshoot this problem.
Is AC Short Cycling Bad?
Short cycling is a term that describes when an air conditioner will rapidly turn on and then off without ever completing a cycle. When the air conditioner runs a cycle it is because the thermostat will detect that the temperature is too high and will trigger the air conditioner. The air conditioner will run until the home temperature reaches the desired setting. If the temperature never cools down to the thermostat setting, then it never completes a cycle. Short cycles occur when a problem is detected in the HVAC system, mostly overheating. Overheating is a major problem and can cause damages to the HVAC system. To prevent damaging the HVAC system, the air conditioner will switch off in order to protect itself.
What Causes Short Cycling?
Often overheating is the reason why an air conditioner will develop short cycling problems. However, there can be many reasons why an air conditioner will overheat. Most are due to:
• Clogged or Dirty Air Filter
• Oversized Air Conditioner Unit
• Refrigerant Leaks or Low Refrigerant
• Leaks in the Ductwork
• Stuck Limit Switch
• Misplaced Thermostat Setting
How Do You Fix a Short Cycling Air Conditioner?
When you have an air conditioner that is short cycling some problems can be easily corrected and without the need to call your HVAC service. To begin troubleshooting the problem, the first question to ask yourself is the unit the right size? Many people will fall into the trap of thinking a bigger air conditioner is better. However, it is not. If such a case you will have a number of problems with a larger unit including short cycling. You will need to replace the air conditioner if it is too big. However, if you have the right unit size the next step is to check the thermostat. Is the thermostat setting pointing to the “on” setting? If so change it to “auto.” Never have it point to “on” or your fan will constantly run and overheat. Next, check the air filters. Are they dirty? Dirty filters can stress out the HVAC system and cause overheating. Always check the air filters and change them out regularly. If you can access your attic space you may want to check the ductwork for leaks. Or you can contact an HVAC service at this point. They can check the ductwork, limit switch, and your refrigerant levels. They can help look for the cause of the short cycles and repair the problem. Most short cycling problems can be prevented with proper maintenance. The homeowner needs to change out air filters often and keep the area around the air conditioner clean. Next, the homeowner should seek yearly tune-ups to ensure the health of the air conditioner.