When your air conditioning system kicks on, you expect it to run for a steady period before the cooling cycle shuts down. If your AC turns on and off right away, though, something is amiss with your cooling system. Thiele Heating & Air Conditioning explains this issue and its causes.
Normal Length of Cooling Cycles
Normally, a cooling cycle will run at least 15 minutes from start to finish. It’s not abnormal for a cycle to last longer, especially when it is very hot outside. When there is a large difference between the outdoor temperature and your desired indoor temperature, it can take longer cooling cycles to lower the indoor air temperature to a comfortable level.
Air Conditioner Short Cycling
When an air conditioner starts up and shuts off again in about 10 minutes or less, this is called short cycling. Short cycling is the technical name for when the air conditioner turns on and off right away, rather than running for a full cycle as it should.
Not only does this lead to decreased efficiency and higher energy bills, but it can also put added strain and wear on your system, potentially leading to expensive repairs or even premature replacement. Neglecting to address the problem can exacerbate the issue and ultimately lead to irreversible damage.
Not only is air conditioner short cycling expensive, but it can also be a health hazard. Continuously cycling air conditioners can cause rapid changes in humidity levels, leading to increased mold growth and decreased indoor air quality. This can be particularly problematic for those with allergies or respiratory issues.
Therefore, it’s important to address air conditioner short cycling as soon as possible. Call a professional HVAC technician to diagnose the problem and recommend the best course of action. This may involve cleaning or replacing air filters, repairing or replacing faulty components, or even installing a new air conditioning unit altogether.
Is My AC Short Cycling?
Here are some signs that indicate your air conditioner may be experiencing short cycling and needs to be repaired:
- The AC is turning on and off repeatedly in short cycles
- Your home doesn’t seem to be cooling down as it should
- You can hear the AC turning on and off frequently
- The air conditioner is producing cool air inconsistently or not enough
- Your energy bill has increased significantly, even when you’re not using the AC excessively
If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to take action and have your HVAC system inspected by a professional. Ignoring the signs can lead to more significant problems and costly repairs down the road.
Why Your Air Conditioner Is Turning On and Off Right Away
Short cycling is caused by various system issues. Certain issues are able to be corrected through air conditioner repairs, while other issues don’t have an easy fix.
1. Dirty Air Filters
Running your cooling system with a dirty air filter can make it so the air conditioner turns on and off right away. A clogged air filter acts as a blockage in the system and hinders airflow through the air conditioner and your home. Without proper airflow, internal elements of the AC unit can overheat. The system will shut down prematurely to protect parts from damage.
When your central HVAC system turns on and off right away, it’s always a good idea to check the air filter. Changing our clogged air filters on a regular basis can help prevent short cycling. Once you’ve changed your air filter, see how the system runs once it is ready to restart. If short cycling continues, call for central air conditioning repair.
2. Low Refrigerant
Refrigerant runs through the cooling system, absorbing and releasing heat to cool the indoor air. Without the correct amount of refrigerant, cooling cycles do not work effectively. Leaks cause the system to lose refrigerant as well as refrigerant pressure.
Low refrigerant pressure is detected by the compressor, and the compressor’s low-pressure control switch will shut down the AC cycle. A refrigerant leak needs to be repaired by a professional to seal the system and recharge it with the proper amount of coolant.
3. Thermostat Issues
If the thermostat is reading the current room temperature incorrectly, it may trigger cooling cycles to end prematurely. The unit’s calibration may be thrown off if bumped or mispositioned. If the thermostat is located in a spot where it is exposed to a heat source, it may not correctly read room temperatures.
An HVAC technician is able to diagnose and repair thermostat issues that cause short cycling. In some circumstances, thermostat replacement may be needed.
4. Wrong Air Conditioner Size
Incorrect equipment size is a major reason behind a short cycling AC system. An oversized air conditioner uses a lot of energy and quickly cools down the home but doesn’t typically distribute cooling evenly. Lower temperatures are hit quickly, causing the cooling cycle to shut down soon after it starts. Unfortunately, the only solution is to replace the AC unit with an air conditioner of the right size.
5. Failing Compressor
A failing compressor is a common cause of AC short cycling, and it is also one of the most expensive components to repair or replace. The compressor is located in your outdoor unit and is responsible for compressing and circulating the refrigerant, which is necessary to absorb heat from inside your home and transfer it outside. When the compressor is failing, it cannot complete this process effectively, leading to overheating and tripping the thermal overload protection. This causes the air conditioning system to shut off prematurely and turn on again when the compressor has cooled down, leading to short cycling.
A failing compressor can also cause damage to other parts of your AC system. When the compressor is not working properly, it can cause the refrigerant to build up in the line, which can lead to liquid refrigerant entering the compressor. This can cause the compressor to fail completely and require replacement. Additionally, short cycling can cause increased wear and tear on other components of your air conditioner, including the fan motor and the electrical components, leading to further damage and increased repair costs. Overall, it is essential to address compressor issues as soon as possible to prevent significant damage to your air conditioning system and minimize the potential for short cycling.
6. Frozen or Dirty Evaporator Coils
The evaporator coil is an important part of an AC system as it facilitates the transfer of heat between the air and the refrigerant. Over time, however, ice buildup or dirt accumulation on the coils can cause them to malfunction, leading to a phenomenon known as air conditioner short cycling.
When the evaporator coils are caked with dirt or ice, it impedes the transfer of heat. The air conditioning system detects that the coils are not working as intended, and tries to compensate by working harder to achieve the set temperature. This results in the air conditioning system turning on and off rapidly, which is known as short cycling. Not only is short cycling inefficient and ineffective, but it can also cause wear and tear on the system’s components, leading to premature failure and the need for costly repairs.
Contact Thiele for Air Conditioner Services in Indianapolis
If your AC turns on and off right away, don’t wait to call Thiele Heating & Air Conditioning. Our team will perform air conditioner repairs or replacement services to stop short cycling and help your home stay comfortable this summer.