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What Is AC Short Cycling And Is It Bad?

The term “short cycle” is a bit of a misnomer. When an AC is short cycling, it’s not completing a cooling cycle at all. Your system will attempt to complete a cycle but will shut itself off before the cycle can be completed. The amount of time the air conditioner turns on and off is short, hence the “short” part of short cycling.

Despite its brevity, an air conditioner that’s short cycling is difficult to ignore. The sound of the system turning on and off, on and off, is unmistakable and rather annoying. Worst of all, your air conditioner is unable to adequately cool your home down and that’s not something that’s easy to miss.

In addition to the decrease in your comfort, short cycling is bad for other reasons. Not only is it a problem, but it can also be a symptom of bigger problems. When left unchecked, short cycling can cause damage to your system. In many cases, it will require professional repairs from a trained and experienced HVAC technician. Let’s look at why short cycling is bad and why you should have it looked at ASAP.

Short Cycling Facts

When your AC is working as it should, it powers up the compressor and runs until the thermostat registers that the desired temperature has been met. The AC then powers down the compressor. 

But when the system is short cycling, the compressor stops prematurely before the end of a cooling cycle. When this happens repeatedly, the compressor is working harder than it should in order to do its job.

What Causes Short Cycling?

  • A clogged, dirty air filter that hasn’t been changed in a while
  • An air conditioner that is oversized or undersized for your home
  • A low refrigerant charge could indicate a leak
  • Air escaping through a leaky ventilation system
  • A miscalibrated thermostat that isn’t reading temperatures correctly

The Consequences of Short Cycling

As you can imagine, short cycling causes a lot of wear and tear to the system. Your air conditioner uses the most power at the start of the cycle when the compressor powers on. When the AC is trapped in a repeated start-up process, it draws on far greater amounts of power.

As a result, the compressor is subject to a lot of unnecessary strain. When the system is left to continue short cycling, it can eventually cause the compressor to overheat and break down. Not only is the cost to replace the compressor high, but depending on the age of your AC, it might be more cost-effective to replace the entire system than the compressor. That’s not a situation that anyone looks forward to!

If you know your system is short cycling, you should have it addressed ASAP. The best thing you can do to prevent short cycling from occurring in the future is to make sure your AC is maintained and repaired on a regular basis. 

Don’t let the weather get you down, call Brown’s! Brown’s Heating & Cooling is your trusted resource for quality AC repair. Contact us today!

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