It’s fairly easy to determine if your home’s A/C unit is short cycling. You’ll notice that the equipment repeatedly comes on, runs for just a short period of time, then shuts off again. These too-short cycles make it impossible to properly cool or dehumidify your home, and they can also adversely affect your A/C’s energy efficiency and life expectancy.
Why Proper Cycle Length Matters
When an air conditioner is operating normally, it starts up, runs until it reaches the thermostat temperature setting, then shuts off. Whenever the room temperature rises again the cycle repeats, typically two to three times per hour. If your A/C runs for too short a time instead, it won’t cool your home to a comfortable level. Repeated brief cycling also wastes energy and puts unnecessary strain on the cooling system’s components, making them more likely to break down and wear out prematurely.
Ways to Deal With Short Cycling
To prevent cycling problems, it’s good to know some of the possible causes, and whether you can fix the issue yourself or you need the help of an experienced HVAC pro to diagnose and correct the underlying problem, which may be:
- Clogged air filter. A badly-clogged air filter can cause severe airflow restrictions that lead to cycling problems. In this case, putting in a fresh filter regularly should be a long-term solution.
- Dirty evaporator coil. If there’s a coating of debris on the coil that’s interfering with the heat transfer process, it can affect the cycle length. Having the coils cleaned during annual preventive maintenance should be the cure.
- Low refrigerant. If the refrigerant level is too low, the system’s airflow will drop, resulting in short cycling. To solve this, a technician will need to check for and fix any leaks, then top up the refrigerant.
- Oversized equipment. Too much capacity can cause brief cycling and ineffective cooling. To correct this, your HVAC pro can do a load calculation and offer you properly-sized new equipment options.