Why Do Air Conditioners Short Cycle?

Air conditioner short cycling can reduce the efficiency of your air conditioner and increase wear and tear on the unit, leading to potential breakdowns and the need for repairs. It’s important to address the root cause of short cycling as soon as possible to ensure your air conditioner operates effectively and efficiently. 

Reasons Your AC Short Cycles

Some reasons air conditioners short-cycle would be improper sizing, dirty condenser coils, low refrigerant levels, high refrigerant levels, a faulty thermostat, or electrical issues. 

Improper size

An improperly sized air conditioner can short cycle from being too big. When the air conditioner is larger than it should be for the size of the house, the house will cool off too quickly, causing the unit to turn off and on repeatedly. An air conditioner that is too large will cause humidity levels in the home to be higher than they should be.  

Dirty condenser coils 

Dirty condenser coils are common problems from lack of maintenance… We know it’s an air conditioner, and not a sports car, but it needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly. If the coil on the outdoor unit gets too dirty, this will cause the pressure inside to increase and possibly cause issues. If the pressure is too high, the unit could trip on the high-pressure switch or even overheat. Please contact a local professional to mitigate these issues.  

Low refrigerant levels

Refrigerant levels can affect the cycle time of the air conditioning system. If the system is low on refrigerant, it may cause the low-pressure switch to open and turn the unit off; once that pressure goes back up after the unit equalizes, it may turn back on again and repeat this process continuously. The same thing can happen with the unit being overcharged with too much refrigerant. When the unit is overcharged, the high-pressure switch will shut it down, let the pressures equalize, and repeat the process. This is something you should have a professional look into; refrigerant can be dangerous and expensive.  

Faulty thermostat

A faulty thermostat or electrical short may also cause the unit to act funny and start/stop repeatedly.  One thing a homeowner can do is visually inspect the thermostat and wiring around the equipment to make sure there are no loose connections, burnt wires, broken wires, or anything else that looks out of place. 

I hope this helps you understand why your air conditioning system keeps turning off and on in short periods of time. Stay Cool, St. Charles County.

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