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Yost & Campbell Heating, Cooling & Generators Blog

The Guide to Air Conditioner Short-Cycling

air-conditioning-unitsAmong air conditioner problems, short-cycling is potentially one of the worst. It might seem like short-cycling is relatively harmless, but it actually can have compounded effects on an air conditioner. Fixing short-cycling can be as easy as changing a filter, or it can be as bad as needing to replace the entire system. In this post, we’ll explain what short-cycling is and how to fix it.

What Is It?

Short-cycling is when the air conditioning unit turns on and off very rapidly. The causes can vary, but the effects are the same:

  • Increases Wear-and-Tear: Turning the AC on is the most power-intensive process, so constant on-and-off action will take its toll on the machine.
  • Inefficient: ACs are designed to go through long and slow cooling cycles to ensure the most efficient performance. Short-cycling does just the opposite.
  • Bad Performance: Worst of all, the AC simply will not be able to perform the way it’s intended to. The home will never reach the desired temperature of coolness.

How Does It Happen?

Oversized unit

Perhaps the most common reason for short-cycling is due to an AC unit that is too powerful for the home. An oversized unit will cool the home far too quickly, causing it to shut off again. The shortened cycle ensures that the home will not stay cool, thus causing it to turn back on again.

Oversized installations happen when an HVAC technician or salesperson does not properly calculate the power of the unit versus the size of the home. Load calculations exist to help, but many other factors also need to be considered, like the amount of sunlight exposure a home receives, the number of windows, and more. This is where it helps to get the assistance of an HVAC contractor with true experience.

Problems with parts or components

Other causes of short-cycling can be due to various parts or components not functioning properly, as opposed to the entire system itself being the problem. Such problems include:

  • Clogged Air Filter: The air filter is responsible for preventing dust and contaminants from entering the system. If the filter becomes clogged and is not changed out, it can cause the AC to overheat and shut down before it can complete a cooling cycle.
  • Low Refrigerant Levels: Refrigerant is a necessary ingredient in the cooling cycle. If a leak has caused the refrigerant to run low, it will cause the system to work harder. This can lead to overheating and short-cycling.
  • Frozen Evaporator Coils: Leaking refrigerant or clogged air filters can also cause evaporator coils to freeze. The evaporator will become covered in frost, thus preventing the machine from absorbing heat, which can cause malfunctions leading to short-cycling.

What to Do About It

Since short-cycling has several potential causes, it’s best not to take a guess at what’s causing the problem. To save the most amount of time and money, calling in for air conditioning repair in Queens, NY to pinpoint the problem is the best way to proceed.

Short-cycling doesn’t have to stay a problem for long. Contact Yost & Campbell Heating, Cooling & Generators today.

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